By Jada Mier
Dr. Allatia Harris was sworn in as Board chairman for the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021, virtually via Zoom at the first Chamber Board meeting of the year. Harris County Justice of the Peace Lucia Bates performed the ceremony, and additional officers and directors took the oath that morning to “promote business growth and quality of life in the North Channel Area.”
Raised in Dallas, Harris attended the University of North Texas, where she majored in Communications, obtaining her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. Dr. Harris holds a doctorate in educational administration with a specialization in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin where she has been recognized as a Distinguished Graduate. After being in administration in the Dallas county community colleges, a presidency opened up at the San Jacinto Community College North Campus. Not wanting to leave Dallas, Harris was hesitant to interview; when she went to the campus, she fell in love with the North Channel community.
Serving as President of San Jacinto College North for five and a half years, the college changed how it operated. Her position evolved into what she works as today, Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives – Workforce, Community and Diversity. She started working with the workforce programs, organizations, businesses in the communities, as well as diversity initiatives. As an advocate of education, Harris went on to elaborate on the opportunities community college offers. She says, “this is something I wish people understood, particularly in low-income communities, if you want to work in healthcare and need to work now, you can get a short-term credential, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop there.” Nationally, Dr. Harris is past president of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges.
When discussing what attracted Harris to the North Channel area, she was honest in saying, “It was a job expectation, but the first year one of the Rotarians got me involved in a project, we were working with another group and funded a home for a disabled veteran who had returned” She goes on “When I started doing the service work, I got hooked.”
She explained the chamber “is a voice about road improvements that we need, is the voice for the infrastructure that the communities and businesses need.” As new Chairman Harris says, her goal first and foremost is “to get through COVID, it has made a lot of things challenging. We want to keep our businesses connected.”
The chamber “works with governmental entities, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, the mayors of Jacinto City, and Galena Park, and Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia to get the word out about vaccinations, food, and water giveaways and resources. We build networks and help keep people connected”
Allatia Harris reports that she is excited to be the new chairman. “When I am with the board even over Zoom, I feel so hopeful and optimistic for the community.” She appreciates the group’s diverse and welcoming people that are so committed to the community she now helps serve.
Dr. Harris is married to Wayne Dickerson and has one son, Kristoffer, and one grandson, Isaac. She and Wayne enjoy fishing and spending time with their black Labrador Charley.