Freyja S. Harris, Esq. Acknowledged by Marquis Who's Who for Leadership in Housing Initiatives
Freyja S. Harris, JD, has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
Since February 2023, Ms. Harris has served as the executive director of Coalition for Home Repair (CHR). The Coalition for Home Repair promotes the preservation of safe, healthy, affordable housing for all by supporting the work of home repair and rehabilitation partners nationwide. The nonprofit, which boasts membership across 38 states, offers support services, including educational resources, technical assistance, funding, and advocacy. Ms. Harris is proud to have elevated awareness of the organization's profile, presence and mission.
Ms. Harris is concurrently the owner of Visible Orange Consulting, PLLC, which offers legal and organizational development services to nonprofits, businesses, and government entities. The Visible Orange approach incorporates principles and practices that foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion of people and perspectives. Additionally, with a team of associate consultants, Visible Orange deploys deep expertise in consultancy surrounding issues of organizational change and growth.
Ms. Harris initiated her career as a legislative assistant for the Colorado General Assembly in 1998 before progressing to the title of housing counselor and program liaison for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) in 2000. Her experiences at CCH ignited her awareness and passion to alleviate and prevent homelessness and improve access to affordable housing options. In 2003, she transitioned to the rank of senior housing policy analyst for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, where she excelled through 2006, focused on supportive housing development and finance policy for underserved populations. As a result of her expertise, Ms. Harris took on the leadership role of executive director of the Florida Coalition for the Homeless, where she served through 2009. She accumulated additional experience as senior management analyst II, leading the Homeless Prevention & Rapid Rehousing Program for the Office on Homelessness of the Florida Department of Children and Families between 2009 and 2011. Next, she relocated with her family to Michigan to pursue a law degree and accept the position of Michigan Benefits Access Director for the State of Michigan.
While attending law school in the evenings, as a part-time student, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation welcomed Ms. Harris as a senior program officer and Detroit Revitalization Fellow in 2012, where she thrived until 2015 before taking an opportunity in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a Management Support Specialist in the Midwest Multifamily Asset Management Division. Ms. Harris continued her career as Chief Administrative Officer with Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation through 2020 before an appointment as the director of the Pontiac Funders Collaborative and DEI Advisor with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, where she prospered from 2020 through 2022.
Notably, Ms. Harris also committed to the leadership role of chief diversity and inclusion officer within the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan from 2016 to 2019, and in 2019 she was named the assistant dean for student affairs at the institution. Ms. Harris has also devoted herself to civic service as a board member of Sparklife International since 2022 to address human trafficking, and to Lakewood University, where she has held a seat on the board of directors since 2022.
Broad academic success has proven vital to Ms. Harris' advancement. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Florida in 1996 before pursuing dual graduate degrees, completing both a Master of Public Administration and a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado Denver in 2003. Ms. Harris subsequently recognized that a law degree would enable her to better navigate certain complexities in her fields of interest and to promote the housing rights of her clients, so she also earned a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School in 2017. She chose Wayne State University so she could learn and work in the city of Detroit, which she considers the ideal location for a urban planner to invest their career, due to the city's architectural beauty, history of development, and most importantly its resilient and innovative residents. She has been admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States and licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Michigan.
Ms. Harris counts the development of the Coalition's inaugural advocacy summit as a significant milestone in her career as executive director thus far. The summit, and Ms. Harris' inspiring leadership efforts, prompted nine national and regional organizations to partner with her institution to promote home repair for low-income families. Various accolades have further marked her accomplishments, and she was humbled to accept the Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Award from the University of Michigan, North Campus, in 2016 and to be recognized as a Detroit Revitalization Fellow in 2012 through 2014.
Ms. Harris credits her grandfather's positive influence on her work ethic, ambition, professional standards, and spirit of generosity as instrumental in her success. She also holds a heightened awareness and empathy for the underserved and for those suffering from mental illness, and she counts it as her personal mission to provide a voice for those who remain unheard. Looking toward the future, Ms. Harris aims to persist in making a meaningful impact on the lives of others through her current housing initiatives with the Coalition for Home Repair and to increase the organization's visibility on the national level.
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