You oughta know
Jenni Harris is the Southeastern regional industry manager for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. She is a senior level strategist and policy adviser for business and community development. Her collaborative initiatives have resulted in sustainable partnerships that improve education, entrepreneurship and industry relations.
Jenni received her bachelor’s in professional and technical writing and public and media relations from UNC Wilmington, and an executive master’s in public policy and administration from N.C. Central University, where she is seeking a doctorate in public policy and administrative affairs.
She lives in Wilmington with her husband and two teenage sons. Jenni serves on the National Advisory Committee for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity and on the Board of Directors for Leadership North Carolina. She is Board President of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear.
What do you like best about your job? The people. I am continually amazed at the passion and commitment business and government leaders have for their companies, their employees and their communities. Helping a business grow by connecting them to resources they need is tremendously rewarding. Beyond that, I love any opportunity to align higher education and industry.
What inspires you? My husband would say that what inspires me is a good challenge, but I think what really inspires me, what gets me excited each day, is seeing people succeed — meeting people with ideas, with goals, with ambition. I turn into their biggest champion. If I can share knowledge or connections through my social network to help a business, a student, etc. to meet a goal, I’m all in.
Who is a role model? I would have to say Hannah Gage. What an incredibly intelligent, energetic and passionate business woman! Her entrepreneurial forethought and business acumen could be said to have changed radio in Wilmington forever. She raised a family, has dedicated invaluable time to community efforts, and committed to reinventing higher education in North Carolina as a member and former chair of the UNC System Board of Governors. She has a keen understanding of how education affects and enhances the prosperity of North Carolina industries. She is a humble leader, full of grace and personality.
What was your biggest challenge this week? Reaching enough people to let them know about the EDPNC and how we are here to advocate for them and connect them to so many local, state and federal programs. I just want everyone to know so they leverage those opportunities.
Favorite N.C. vacation spot? In North Carolina, doesn’t it just depend on the time of year? Who doesn’t love the mountains in October? And while I do love the crisp air, the crunch of fallen leaves and the phenomenal colors of an autumn mountainside, I have to say that I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than a historic, coastal town — Oriental, New Bern, Beaufort, Wilmington. Salt air, boats, open sky and water for miles.