Director of Strategy and External Relations
Joining the College of Education in 2022 as the Director of Strategy and External Relations, Ms. Tara Kirkland develops and advances strategic partnerships, research and funding opportunities that align with the college’s signature impact areas. Kirkland has spent her professional career at the intersection of purpose and impact, connecting big ideas with the strategies and practical steps to execute them. For over 20 years, she has served as a strategic advisor for nonprofit and public sector clients and community partners on questions of strategy, governance, community engagement, revenue generation and business model development.
As Chief Program Officer at the Austin-based nonprofit Mission Capital, Kirkland guided the organization’s programmatic efforts to equip and connect mission driven leaders, organizations and networks in Central Texas for over 15 years.
Prior to her time at Mission Capital, Kirkland was a Presidential Management Fellow for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Southwest Border Initiative in Washington, DC. She started her career as a faith- and institution-based community organizer, working to develop grassroots community leaders in public schools and neighborhoods and additionally served as program director for a statewide nonprofit working to break the family cycle of child abuse and neglect in Texas.
Kirkland earned her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and her Bachelor of Arts from the Plan II Liberal Arts Honors Program at UT Austin.