Black History Month Employee Spotlight: Meet Jason Harris

Jason Harris is the embodiment of versatility, seamlessly navigating between a diverse array of roles that span the spectrum of education, fatherhood and artistic expression. Growing up in Charleston, West Virginia, Jason spent most of his time outside, instilling in him a deep appreciation for nature and the wonders of the world around him. His formative years laid the foundation for a life driven by curiosity, creativity and a profound sense of purpose. 

After graduating from high school, Jason pursued his passion for literature at Marshall University, majoring in English with a focus on creative writing. Armed with his degree, Jason knew he wanted to make a difference by serving with AmeriCorps. The only question for him was where to serve.  “I applied to three different AmeriCorps programs in Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland with the plan to serve with whoever got back to me first. Cleveland [College Now] was where I landed,” he says. In August 2014, Jason embraced the unknown, packing his life into a Chevy Blazer and setting off for a new chapter in his life. 

Since then, Cleveland has provided more than just a job for Jason- it is a place he proudly calls home, where he has built the foundation for some of his proudest achievements: his educational and artistic journeys and his family. After serving with AmeriCorps, Jason decided to stay at College Now as an advisor, and eventually making his way to his current role: senior scholarship and financial aid specialist. In this role, his work is not merely administrative — it’s a mission to empower students, providing them with access to vital funding and resources that pave the way for their academic success.


Simultaneously, Jason’s role as an adjunct professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) offers a unique perspective on the impact of scholarships. As he imparts knowledge and inspiration to his students, he witnesses firsthand the transformative power of financial assistance. Observing scholarship recipients pursue their artistic passions at CIA embodies the importance of access to education. It’s a testament to Jason’s commitment to fostering a culture of opportunity and excellence, both within the walls of academia and beyond. 

In recognition of his dedication and excellence in the field of education, Jason was recently honored by the Colleges That Change Lives organization. Chosen as one of the 2024 Counselors That Change Lives, this honor is given in recognition of his dedication to the college counseling profession as it reflects the mission of the Colleges That Change Lives organization – to promote and support a student-centered college search process.  

Beyond his role at College Now, Jason’s creative spirit thrives. He is a skilled writer, having published poems, book reviews and essays. He also serves as the editor-in-chief for Gordon Square Review, a local literary magazine. As a poet and educator, Jason channels his passion for language into verses that resonate with authenticity and insight. His poetry serves as a powerful exploration of two central themes: Blackness and the environment. Through his words, he delves into his identity and the Black experience. Simultaneously, Jason offers his perspective on the environment and the human impact on it. “Whether I’m getting takeout or driving my car to work, my impact on the environment is something I’m always thinking about. I express this through something called ‘eco-poetry’”. 

For the last five years, he has been teaching writing classes for Literary Cleveland. He leads the nonfiction writing group and assists with organizing the workshop at Cleveland Public Library Hough branch, where participants drop in to read, write and foster community connections. Additionally, Jason teaches a class on “Within Liminal Spaces,” focusing on fragmented writing, a style reflected in his own nonfiction work. Given his full-time job and responsibilities as a parent, Jason often writes during his baby’s naptimes, using his phone or notecards to capture ideas without the pressure of lengthy essays. This approach highlights the importance of embracing fragmentation in his creative process. 

Fatherhood is Jason’s most cherished role and his son, August, stands as his proudest achievement. Witnessing August’s boundless curiosity and joy for life brings immeasurable fulfillment to Jason’s journey as a parent. Whether it’s August’s infectious excitement for vehicles or the simple pleasures of watching him explore the world, Jason finds great meaning in the everyday moments shared with his son. As he navigates the demands of work and creative pursuits, Jason’s dedication to fatherhood remains unwavering, anchoring him in love and purpose. For Jason, being a father to August is not just about nurturing and guiding him- it is about embracing the profound privilege and responsibility of shaping a young life and leaving a legacy of love and support. 

It is almost hard to believe Jason finds time for the many hats he wears in his day-to-day life. He makes it known how satisfied he is with the life he has built for himself since moving to Cleveland in 2014. “It has taken a lot of time and work, but I have finally hit a point in my life where I’m happy if every day is similar to the day I just lived”. As Jason continues to navigate the complexities of life in his many roles, he will do so in the way he knows best- through the eyes of an artist.