Born in Orlando, Florida, and raised in a small rural town known as Chinquapin, North Carolina, the birthplace of the inventor of Pepsi-Cola, a town that has less than 10% African American residents. Harkness attended the local school that wasn't too many years removed from racial segregation. Harkness is a product of her village: her mother, a retired FEMA worker, her father, an Alabamian lumberman with a grade school education, and stepfather, a college educated, small business owner and retired hog farm worker. Harkness comes from a large family of small business owners with services that range from fashion, hair, and beauty to real estate and insurance.
As a teenager, Harkness identified a need for youth and senior programs in her local community. Harkness developed programs and provided services to traditionally underrepresented groups of senior citizens and youth through youth development camps and basic computer literacy training programs, facilitated by Harkness throughout high school. Harkness was immersed in city government strategic planning when she joined The Uncovering Southwest Raleigh project, a program launched in 2012 as a collaboration between the City of Raleigh, North Carolina State University, and the Southwest Raleigh community. Serving as the community researcher for the project and the university's research assistant, Harkness learned the importance of assessing, benchmarking, data analytics, competency models, and program development, all necessary areas of expertise she brings to her management consulting services.
Energy, ambition, and passion are terms to describe Harkness' professional career trajectory. After graduating North Carolina State University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies and Community Development, Harkness obtained a Master of Legal Studies degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Harkness led the following special projects at Legal Aid of North Carolina: staffing the Affordable Care Act Helpline for North Carolina residents, recruiting pro bono attorneys for the Lawyer on the Line program, and hosting a televised Call-for-All day coordinating volunteer attorneys to provide legal advice to residents statewide.
In 2016, (similar to her great-aunts and uncles from NC) Harkness head up north to New York for better opportunities. Harkness' role was to develop and manage a project under the Legal Service’s Corporation Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a federal grant. This grant combined innovative remote technology solutions with legal services providers to expand the reach of legal services in rural counties in upstate New York. Here she developed and fostered an interest in anti-discrimination laws, priority-setting, and Equal Employment and Affirmative Action policies.
This role combined her interests in technology, public service and law. Harkness' efforts led to developing one of the first innovative, remote pro bono programs, that is now being replicated by law firms, law schools and bar associations throughout the country. Harkness recruited, trained, and managed volunteer advocates within and outside of New York State, all from different walks of life as far as New Zealand, St. Kitts, The Netherlands, and Pakistan, to provide legal services to litigants within urban and rural counties in New York State.
Harkness has committed her entire career to public service by developing and expanding projects and as a result, has held numerous leadership positions including, Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, Interim Private Attorney Involvement Director. Program Manager, and Deputy Chief of Case Management.
Harkness has facilitated presentations and workshops at the following conferences:
Frustrated and inspired by the uprising of the racial justice movement and the importance of leading by example, Harkness formed Harkness Consulting Solutions, LLC to transition her career out of legal services and into management consulting and police reform. Harkness joined the Government Law Center at Albany Law School to take the lead role in providing substantial services to assist the City of Albany Community Police Review Board in fulfilling its mission, including managing the Board’s work, processing complaints, overseeing students’ research, and participating in community outreach and education. Recently, Harkness expanded her efforts into police oversight by transitioning to the City of Rochester to effectively assess and implement administrative and support processes by focusing on defining, understanding, and improving the activity flow of the Police Accountability Board’s case management system.
Today, Harkness enjoys working with groups on implementing equitable policies, procedures, processes, and practices into their businesses and institutions.
Contributing to this firm means that you will also be contributing funds to support youth mentorship, scholarship, economic development, and financial literacy initiatives for underprivileged groups, locally and internationally.