Tali Hairston

Tali Hairston

Director of the Perkins Center
(tali@spu.edu )

Tali Hairston is a known mentor in reconciliation, a loving father and family man, trusted leader in the community, and a minister in the church.


This Seattle native started at Seattle Pacific University in 2001 as assistant director of campus ministries. His multicultural upbringing and ministry experience prepared him for leading SPU in a unique partnership in 2003 as director of The John M. Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Community Development, and Leadership Training. He has also served as special assistant to the president advising the University in its Reconciliation and Diversity Initiative.


The father of three children, Tali was born and raised in the diverse environment of Seattle’s Rainier Valley, which has served as a central piece of influence for his heart for community development and service through the ministry of reconciliation. From fulfilling his first leadership position at the age of 16 in his uncle’s church to living as an urban outreach youth worker, his experience and training has interfaced him in diverse urban areas. He affirms his work as a definite calling to multi-cultural ministry.


While working co-currently in a residence home for boys after his undergraduate degree, he codeveloped a relational ministry named Exodus, serving urban youth in the Rainier Valley through tutoring and outreach camps. In 1998 he completed World Vision’s three-year training program called Vision Youth, helping to equip leaders in urban youth outreach and community development.


Hairston presents an impressive awareness and reflection for the contributing experiences he has had. The gift of his family history and story, a large slave-holding family told in The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White by Henry Wiencek, as transformative for the way he embraces the world. His scholarly training earned him tools for critical analysis and theological prowess, with an interest in history at the University of Washington to a graduate focus on global leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. A supportive mentoring community, including great leaders such as Dr. John M. Perkins, has strengthened his values of faith, family, community, justice, and love for the other. His travels in Southeast Asia and South and Central Africa have opened his perspective and contributed to his depth of understanding in trauma healing and township development.


In addition to leading the Perkins Center at Seattle Pacific, Tali Hairston has been an integral participant in the vision and development of key SPU programs such as the Early Connections Program, the Urban Youth Leadership Academy, recruitment and application of students with Undergraduate Admissions, and partnerships with academic programs such as the reconciliation studies minor. A recent project allows him to add film producer to his accomplishments leading the content development, production and marketing as associate producer for Let Justice Roll On, a documentary on the life and legacy of John Perkins.


His work and story in the Rainier Valley speaks overwhelmingly to his call and purpose as a minister of reconciliation. If you live in the 98118 area code, you cannot escape the impact of his presence, his voice, and his involvement as a leader and pastor in the community. From prayer time to pulpit, coffee meeting to board meeting, small group to lecture hall, Tali brings a challenge to leaders, churches, schools and development organizations as practitioner, preacher, speaker, teacher, advisor and bridge-builder. He listens and empowers those around him from students to staff to faculty to community leaders and pastors.