Barbara Harrison serves as Director, External Affairs and Programs and is responsible for fund-raising, external affairs, partner relationships and strategic program initiatives for the King Center. Since 2004, Barbara has headed the department of External Affairs and Programs which trains and educate people across the nation and worldwide about Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence and reconciliation. She has a proven track record of working collaboratively with corporations, community leaders, dignitaries, elected officials, and educators to foster collaboration among diverse groups to expand the King Center’s support and external funding sources.
Her work includes initiating aggressive and innovative ways to advance new alliances that strengthen outreach programs targeted to youth (K-12), community supporters and potential national donors. These efforts have resulted in increased support and an enhanced reputation of King Center programs. Under her guidance and management of programs, the King Center continues to position themselves as a leading resource of nonviolence training, reaching individuals and communities who previously had limited or no relationship with the King Center or Dr. King’s philosophy. During her tenure of twenty plus years, she’s served as a youth trainer for the King Center’s Summer Institute on Nonviolence and later became a certified trainer.
Starting as an administrative assistant in 1985, Barbara later became an executive assistant, followed by manger of external affairs and programs, to her current position where she serves as director of the department. Her past positions include working in the offices of the King Center’s Founder, the President and CEO, and the Vice Chair Treasurer, to help develop and implement development initiatives, annual and planned giving campaigns, and education and training programs.
In her capacity as King Holiday Observance Coordinator, Barbara is responsible for oversight of all programs, activities, events, volunteers and partnership relations for the Center’s King Holiday. She’s worked with the board and executive staff to cultivated relationships with fortune 500 companies and currently provides leadership for the Center’s major fundraising effort, the annual “Salute to Greatness” awards dinner.
Barbara’s early working years included working as a recruitment consultant, insurance adjuster and in retail management. Prior to coming to Atlanta, her retail experience led to managing boutiques and stores, in South Carolina, North Carolina and metropolitan Washington, DC. The move to Atlanta provided a different direction for her life with a change in her career path to include civic engagement that lead to her working in the nonprofit sector.
Barbara currently serves in several community leadership roles, including the board of Synergistic Youth Enterprises (SYE) Inc., and past member of the Butler Street Hungry Club Forum. She is a member of the Atlanta Business League (ABL) and Ladies Who Launch, a social networking community for women entrepreneurs. She is also building her own online business, Blissful Gatherings, featuring unique gifts, party favors, wedding favors and promotional business products. She is single and lives in Decatur, Georgia.
A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Barbara earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Clothing/Fashion & Related Arts with a minor in Business Administration from Tuskegee University.