Organizational leadership alumna Tanika Harris ‘22 was recently named Director of Communication at the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Pittsburgh. We sat down with Tanika to discuss her new role and her journey as a professional and as a student at Point Park University.    

Describe your career journey that led up to your new role.

I formerly served as the Director of Ministry at Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh, where I continue to be an active member. There, I had the opportunity to establish and oversee initiatives that helped the communities we served. I led multigenerational volunteer teams that exhibited servant leadership, as they all possessed high levels of leadership at their workplaces while serving with distinction at Macedonia.  

Managing these connections allowed me to view the world through a perspective that includes emotional intelligence, empathy, and accountability. 

How has your Point Park experience helped you achieve this success? 

I’ve been able to apply my education to my new role quickly. I have beta-tested a few academic theories to determine their applicability to our current reality at the URA, such as systems thinking and leading an organization amid change.  

I’ve been able to implement what I’ve learned from the organizational leadership curriculum, such as emotional and cultural intelligence in leading a multicultural organization and communities, especially as I’ve migrated from the private to the public sector. 

What were your favorite courses and why?

My favorite courses were Understanding Gender & Power: Gender Dynamics in Leadership, Leading Organizational Change and Leadership: Confluence of Emotional & Cultural Acumen. I appreciated discovering new ideas that pushed my way of thinking but, once tested, applied to my everyday life. In addition, the instructors gave engaging and thought-provoking lectures and assignments.  

Point Park professors are critical thinkers, and they do not construct their courses to fit specific requirements to check a box. Instead, they design their courses to be relevant to the contemporary world and the difficulties we face and will confront as future leaders. 

Are there any specific faculty members who have had a positive impact on you?

The professors who had a positive impact on me include Patrick Mulvihill, D.Ed., Robert Skertich, Ph.D., and Portia K. Weston, Ed.D. Individually and together, they posed challenges to my method of thinking and organizing. They each have their own distinct approach to teaching, yet the effect on their students is consistent. I admired their attitudes of modesty and confidence.  

They are aware that they are experts in their own fields, but they assured me that I, too, am an experienced professional and to never discredit my journey or experiences. In addition, they each extended grace when life presented obstacles. They understood their role as instructors and leaders. Their focus was on the knowledge of their students, not their own, and they encouraged us to draw on our experiences to absorb the new theories and concepts offered. 

Why would you recommend Point Park to a prospective student?

Degree programs at Point Park University have been designed with the adult learner in mind. The accelerated and 4+1 programs guarantee that students are adequately equipped to enter a developing and changing workforce. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am a single mother who has worked for 27 years to earn my bachelor’s degree. When I walked across the commencement stage with my children, grandchildren, relatives and classmates cheering, the day invoked the most joyful feeling that I will never forget.  

Completing what I began 27 years ago as a 17-year-old who believed she had all the answers is both humbling and emotional. The only limitations to accomplishing our goals are those we impose on ourselves. Nothing about my life has been simple, but when you are surrounded by a tribe of people who love you unconditionally and hold you accountable, there is nothing you can’t accomplish, even if it means adjusting your plans. 

Take Your Career to the Next Level at Point Park University 

Point Park University is your partner in career advancement and life fulfillment. From organizational leadership to communications, marketing, arts and sciences, business and healthcare, education, and more. Our convenient, affordable online programs provide students the theoretical and experiential background for success in their chosen fields.  

Tanika’s life has been anything but simple. Nonetheless, she stayed the course, raised a family, led diverse teams, and earned her organizational leadership degree. Her experience, education, and passion for leadership in service of others shine a light for others to follow.