Tanisha Fitzgerald-Baker joins the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS) as the latest Distinguished Community Leader Lecturer. Fitzgerald-Baker has an extensive track record for her exceptional leadership and commitment to serving the Knoxville and surrounding communities. She currently serves as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion manager at Knoxville Utilities Board.
The position of Distinguished Community Leader Lecturer was created as an engagement service to both the university and the local community, with the goal of providing our departments access to leading professionals and practitioners from the Knoxville community whose work falls within the college’s various areas of study. It is an opportunity for faculty and students to learn about work being done in our fields of interest beyond the “walls” of CEHHS, and to meet and engage with some of the prominent members in the surrounding area. Learn more about what this role entails in a post about our inaugural Distinguished Community Leader Lecturer, Pastor Daryl Arnold.
Fitzgerald-Baker’s leadership journey began in her hometown of Knoxville, where she graduated as the valedictorian from Austin-East High School. She continued her education, earning a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science from Florida A&M University and a Master of Science in Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her passion for making a difference led her to complete a certificate in Social Enterprise Effectiveness from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam School of Business, equipping her with the knowledge and skills to drive positive change.
Throughout her professional career, Fitzgerald-Baker has been a champion for equity and access, particularly for those underserved and underrepresented in communities facing challenging circumstances. Her leadership in the educational arena has garnered respect and admiration, as she has tirelessly worked to create opportunities and remove barriers. Tanisha’s strategic mindset, analytical expertise, and community-focused approach have made her a sought-after leader, consultant, and presenter.
Fitzgerald-Baker’s leadership extends beyond her professional responsibilities. She is the founding member and current president of the Five Points Up Community Action Group, an organization that has made a significant impact in the community. She has also played pivotal roles in various community initiatives, including being a founding member of the East Knox Lion’s Club and serving on the steering committees for the Eastside Sunday Market and the Community Voices Coalition. Her dedication to community service is evident through her involvement on the boards of directors for the YWCA, Change Center, and Metro Drug Coalition. Additionally, she chairs the African American Equity Restoration Taskforce appointed by the City of Knoxville, demonstrating her commitment to promoting equity and justice.
Fitzgerald-Baker’s leadership and contributions have been recognized with numerous accolades and awards. Her nomination for the city of Knoxville’s Good Neighbor of the Year Award by former Mayor Madeline Rogero is a testament to her positive impact on the community. She has received the “Woman 2 Woman” award for Community Outreach sponsored by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the MLK Commission’s Award for Community Service. Tanisha’s passion for community outreach has also been showcased through features in Girls Go Hard magazine and her role as a talk show host on Talking with T and co-host on What’s Going On.
In addition to her leadership endeavors, Tanisha is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She resides in Knoxville, with her husband, Darritt Baker, and their son, Tylan Baker.
CEHHS is honored to have Tanisha Fitzgerald-Baker as our Distinguished Community Leader Lecturer, and we are excited to continue to witness the positive impact she will continue to make through her exceptional leadership and dedication to creating a better future for our communities.
You can learn more about Fitzgerald-Baker and her professional experience here.