Biography Senator Melisa Franzen

A fighter for equity, empowerment, and opportunity, Senator Melisa Franzen is serving her second term in the Minnesota Senate. Elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, Senator Franzen represents Senate District 49 serving the suburban Minneapolis communities of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, and Minnetonka.

Senator Franzen serves on the Taxes, Health and Human Services Finance and Policy, and Transportation and Public Safety Finance Committees. She is also a member of the Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research, and has previously served on the Education Policy Committee and Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board.

As a small business owner and Co-Founder and President of NewPublica, a Minneapolis-based public relations and strategic communications firm, Senator Franzen is no stranger to the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and opportunity. Her experience extends beyond the Capitol and at her small business — as an attorney at Target Corporation for eight years, she held a number of roles, titles, and responsibilities in Target’s Government Affairs and Community Relations division.

Senator Franzen is an advocate for Minnesota’s public schools, colleges, and universities. She holds a Masters of Public Policy with a concentration in Economic and Community Development from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and holds a J.D. from Hamline University’s School of Law.

Before making Minnesota home, Senator Franzen grew up in Puerto Rico, where she stayed active in her community by volunteering, participating in Girl Scouts, and holding membership in 4H. She is part of the HOPE Binational Fellowship Program, an executive leadership program for outstanding Latina professionals, and was selected nationwide to join the Class of 2018 Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership amongst 24 national leaders.

She is the former President of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association and Regional Vice President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, and formerly served on the Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys as well as the Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES).

Senator Franzen’s legislative agenda reflects her strong advocacy for quality early childhood education, ensuring a well-trained educated workforce, and closing the achievement gap. She also understands the value of making sustainable investments in transportation infrastructure. Her key policy interest remains her work in health care policy and believes access to health care should be affordable, transparent and accountable to the patient. She is leading efforts to reform the prior authorization process for medications.

She resides in Edina with her husband, Nathan, and their two sons Philip and Arthur. They enjoy traveling and going up north to their cabin in Finland, Minnesota.

Professional Experience

  • President & Co-Founder, NewPublica
  • Attorney, Target Corporation


  • Juris Doctor, Hamline University School of Law
  • Master of Public Policy, Concentration Economic and Community Development, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota


  • Board of Directors, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys
  • President, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association
  • Founder, Law Student Endowment Fund Scholarship, Hamline University School of Law

Awards & Recognitions

  • Minnesota Medical Association, 2016 James H. Sova Memorial Award, honors a nonmedical professional who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of medicine, for her work on the medication prior authorization reform legislation
  • Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) Legislative Achievement Award for 2016
  • Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health (MNARRCH): Legislator of the Year Award in 2015
  • Parent Aware for School Readiness: Early Education Four Star Legislator in 2015
  • Hunger Solution: Hunger Hero in 2014
  • American Heart Association: Legislator of the Year in 2014
  • HUSL Latino Law Student Association: Juris Fiesta Founders Award in 2014
  • Voices for Racial Justice: Champion for Racial Equality/The Outstanding Leadership Award from 2013-2014
  • Opportunity Partners Ability Redefined: Thank-You/Letter of Appreciation in recognition of her for outstanding leadership in 2014
  • Youth Intervention Programs Association: Youth Intervention Champion in 2013
  • Cancer Action Network: Rookie of the Year in 2013