Dr. Kirk E. Harris is a faculty member in the Department of Urban Planning in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Dr. Harris’ academic interests are focused on racial and economic equity, the pedagogy of social justice, constitutional issues in planning law and mediation and negotiation. Dr. Harris leads a Chicago-based research, practice and policy initiative, Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities (FFHC). This family strengthening and community development initiative seeks to support and promote the engagement of low-income African American fathers in the lives of their children, families and communities.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Harris has sought to aggressively advance policies that more effectively support vulnerable families and communities. Dr. Harris has served as a legal services lawyer as well as a senior vice president and general counsel for Family Support America (a nationally recognized family support nonprofit), and worked as a community development professional and neighborhood advocate for Shorebank Advisory Services (a division of the once nationally prominent community development bank, South Shore Bank). During the 2008 presidential campaign, Dr. Harris served on then-Senator Obama’s Metropolitan and Urban Policy Committee, charged with informing the campaign’s public policy platform. For four years, Dr. Harris served as the national facilitator for the National Fatherhood Leaders Group, a consortium of the country’s leading fatherhood organizations. In addition to that role, Dr. Harris worked closely with White House staff of the Obama administration and other national leaders on issues related to fathers and family strengthening. Dr. Harris has also testified before Congress on the intersecting issues of poverty, family strengthening and community development. Dr. Harris is a proponent of youth development. For his leadership in that area, The Wisconsin Daily Reporter named Dr. Harris the Architectural Leader and Newsmaker of the Year for his groundbreaking work related to the development of a charter public high school focused on serving vulnerable urban youth.
Dr. Harris possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University, a Master of Public Administration degree from the Martin School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the University of Kentucky, a Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson Law School and a PhD from Cornell University. Dr. Harris is also a member of the Georgia, Washington, DC and U.S. Supreme Court Bars.