"I was very, very surprised and humbled to receive the award because there are so many moms who are doing great things," she told Eyewitness News.
Great things like recognizing that motherhood and academia can sometimes be a challenge. When Franzese was pregnant with her son Brennan, she was working on her PhD. So, in an effort to help other graduates, she helped write a leave policy for student-parents.
"So now that the policy exists, it outlines the fact that graduate students have protected time away from their studies," she explained. "I've often said that it feels better than completing a dissertation that I contributed to this policy because I really feel it can help people."
And Franzese has advice for other working moms.
"I think working moms are really hard on themselves," she said. "I don't think they give themselves credit. I think they should cut themselves a break."