Based on her own experiences as a reporter, lawyer, marathon runner and university-wide equity and inclusion leader, Yulanda McCarty-Harris offers some valuable career advice for students.
“Diversify your resume,” she says. “It’s the best way to create a niche for yourself that others may not have.”
True to her own words, McCarty-Harris has worn many hats throughout her career journey. Prior to assuming her new role as executive director in the Office for Inclusion and Equity (OIE), she was a sports journalist for the Austin American-Statesman and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, then later pursued a law degree at Southern Methodist University. After earning her J.D. in 1998, she went on to practice law in the realms of personal injury, personal defense and labor employment.
Looking back at her many leadership positions, McCarty-Harris is especially proud of her work for the City of Toledo, where she served as the senior labor and employment attorney. Less than a year later she became the director of affirmative action. In this role, she supported Toledo’s then-mayor Jack Ford’s vision to support and protect small- and minority-owned businesses.
“He was a very smart man who understood legislation—and how to use policy to create systemic changes within an organization,” McCarty-Harris recalls. “That’s what I’ve spent my career doing: creating access for those who haven’t been given opportunities to advance.”
With her passion for social justice, McCarty-Harris later carved her niche in the world of academe. Prior to joining the OIE in Sept. 2016, she led equity and inclusion offices at Cleveland State University and Youngstown State University. Just when she thought she put down roots in Northeast Ohio, she discovered an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“When I saw the position here, I was ready to come home,” says McCarty-Harris, a UT alumna (B.A., Journalism ’90) who grew up in Littlefield, Texas, near the Panhandle west of Lubbock.
Committed to equity, fairness and inclusion, McCarty-Harris leads the OIE’s efforts to administer and enforce equal opportunity laws and policies across the university. The job comes with its share of challenges—especially in today’s political climate—yet McCarty-Harris is proud to support an institution that is setting the bar in diversity and inclusion.
“The most gratifying part of my job is knowing that people are being treated with respect and fairness, even if they don’t get their way,” she adds. “We’re all on the same team. We all align with one mission to create the environment we want at UT Austin.”
A proud Longhorn, McCarty-Harris feels very privileged to be working on a beautiful college campus. She enjoys strolling underneath the shady oaks on the East Mall and watching students engaging in various activities. Some of her most memorable moments include special events such as the Tower Memorial and the Precursor’s 60-Year Anniversary event. She especially enjoys volunteering at university-wide commencement ceremonies, providing access to seniors attending the services.
“It’s inspiring seeing so many students smiling and excited about the change they’re going to be making in the world,” McCarty-Harris adds. “Our office is a part of that. We pay attention to campus climate and have a team that provides support and resources to help our faculty, staff and students feel safe and comfortable on campus.”
McCarty-Harris is especially grateful for her team of talented staff who are dedicated to serving all members of the campus community with fairness and respect. Visit the OIE website to learn more about their good work.