Kirk Harris



Dr. Kirk Edward Harris, Assistant Professor

Dr. Kirk E. Harris is a faculty member in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and has served as facilitator for the National Fatherhood Leaders Group for approximately 4 years. Dr. Harris has been working on issues related to fathers and families for over 15 years. Dr. Harris is considered a national expert on fathers and families, and is a national keynote speaker on issues related to fatherhood, family support and community development. As a lawyer and advocate, Dr. Harris has worked on a variety of public policy and community issues related to responsible fatherhood, family support practice, community building, parent-engagement and leadership and anti-poverty strategies. During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, Dr. Harris served on then Sen. Obama’s Metropolitan and Urban Policy Committee, charged with managing the campaign's public policy platform. Presently, Dr. Harris works very closely with White House staff and other national leaders on issues related to fathers and families. On June 17, 2010, Dr. Harris delivered testimony to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support.
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Dr. Harris served as a consultant to the Paternal Involvement Demonstration Project (PIP), which was a collaborative partnership between local foundations, the Illinois Department of Public Aid and local nonprofit agencies. PIP was design to promote opportunities and remove barriers confronting low-income fathers, so that low-income fathers could be involved financially and emotionally in the lives of their children. In his capacity as consultant to PIP, Dr. Harris worked on evaluation issues, program design, and legislative matters. Dr. Harris went on to co-found and serve as the first Director of the Center on Fathers Families and Public Policy (CFFPP). The Center served as the policy arm of the Strengthening Fragile Family Initiative, which was a well-known, Ford Foundation funded, national demonstration focused on understanding the intersection between welfare reform, family support, and father involvement. Dr. Harris' work at CFFPP addressed how public policy and social service practice impeded the involvement of low-income fathers in the lives of their children and families. As an executive for Family Support America, a national organization that promoted family strengthening, Dr. Harris provided leadership for the introduction and cultivation of father involvement practices within the national network of family support providers. At Family Support America, Dr. Harris also created the shared leadership process as a practice standard for building a family support policy and practice agenda at the local and state level. Dr. Harris is a contributor to a book on the Hope VI project, published by the Urban Institute, entitled, “Public Housing and the Legacy of Segregation.” Dr. Harris' chapter entitled, Fathers from the Family to the Fringe: Practice, Policy, and Public Housing examines how public policy limits father engagement in the context of public housing. Dr. Harris also served as chairman of the Board for the National Practitioner Network for Fathers and Families.

Dr. Harris is the Founder of the School for Urban Planning and Architecture (SUPAR) an innovative, award winning and first of its kind charter high school that is linked to the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. SUPAR services at risk urban youth by connecting the educational process to their families and communities. SUPAR's educational strategy is to connect with students where they are and to build a learning environment around those issues students most care about, so that youth stay in school and stay on a positive educational trajectory. A core value within the school's culture is that of fostering the involvement parents and caregivers, with a special interest in engaging fathers. The Wisconsin Daily Reporter named Dr. Harris Architectural Leader and Newsmaker of the Year for his work related to the charter school.

Dr. Harris possesses a master of public administration degree from the Martin School of Public Policy and Public Administration, University of Kentucky, a law degree from Thomas Jefferson Law School and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. Dr Harris is a member of the Georgia, Washington, DC and US Supreme Court Bars.

Cornell University, City and Regional Planning: Ph.D., 1992 Thomas Jefferson School of Law, J.D., 1985
University of Kentucky, School of Graduate Studies, Martin Center of Public Administration: M.P.A., 1982
Rutgers University, Rutgers College: B.A. in Liberal Arts

Research Focus
Community Development and Families

URBPLAN 655 Negotiation Theory and Practice for Urban Planners
URBPLAN 692 Social Justice Urban Planning and the New Multicultural America
URBPLAN 692 Race and Class in the New Urban America
URBPLAN 702 Introduction to Planning Law

Selected Work

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