Most recently a California resident, Furano was involved with the LGBT-rights organization throughout the 1990s.
Among her contributions to the Task Force, Furano assisted in the campaign to remove the antigay “Dr. Laura” show from local CBS stations and to open up communication between the LGBT community and public-broadcast channel WHYY.
Furano grew up in Milford, Conn., and moved to Philadelphia to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She later received her master’s degree from Columbia University in public administration with a concentration in social-welfare policy and then worked in the nonprofit world.
She worked at West Philadelphia Improvement Corps, which provided services for disadvantaged youth, before joining Public/Private Ventures, a national nonprofit that works to enhance social-services programs, particularly those geared toward youth.
Furano started with the organization as an administrative assistant, worked her way up to director of policy and program development and helped launch the agency’s College and Career Connections Fund. She moved to the West Coast about 10 years ago to help get the agency’s California office off the ground.
After moving to Oakland, Furano also worked for California social-services agencies Stupski Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation and consulted for an array of nonprofits.
Her passion for youth and her nonprofit work fused in her book, “Big Brothers/Big Sisters: A Study of Program Practices,” published in 1993.
In addition to her activist and lobbying work with the Task Force, Furano also volunteered as an AIDS Buddy with Action AIDS from 1992-95.
According to friend and former basketball coach Maureen Hannigan, Furano helped her “buddies” with everything from cooking to cleaning to taking them to doctor’s appointments.
“She was the most compassionate, caring and generous person,” Hannigan said.
Hannigan said Furano’s LGBT-rights work, as well as her career aims, were the culmination of a long history of fearlessness.
“She was the president of her high-school class, and her mom said that even then she wasn’t afraid to speak out, wasn’t afraid of public speaking,” Hannigan said. “She was always speaking out on behalf of anything she saw as unfair and wanted to fight to make things better for people.”
That bold attitude was also revealed in her athletic prowess.
A former basketball player, Furano learned to row at age 30 and went on to become a champion Masters rower.
Last summer, even after three years of battling cancer, she won two gold medals and one silver.
“She had such an intensity,” Hannigan said. “She died young, but she lived every day just full-speed ahead. She lived fully all the time.”
Furano is survived by her partner, Stacy Daraio, mother Leatrice Furano, sister Lauryn Carbone and her husband Ralph, and sister Allisyn Foster and her husband Jackson, along with several nieces and nephews.
A memorial will be held from 10 a.m.-noon March 10 in Oakland, Calif.
Memorial gifts can be sent to The John Chan, M.D. Fund for Ovarian Cancer Innovative Research, P.O. Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145 or Women’s Cancer Resource Center at www.wcrc.org.
Jen Colletta can be reached at email@example.com.