Tali Hairston

Tali Hairston

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

As a Seattle native, Tali began working in Christian higher education in 2001 as assistant director of Campus Ministries. His multicultural upbringing in Seattle’s Rainier Valley and at-risk youth ministry experience, prepared him for leading SPU in a unique partnership in 2003 as the Special Assistant to the President and founding director of The John M. Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Community Development, and Leadership Training.


Tali hasled the reformation of global and urban service programs, advised the University in its Reconciliation and Diversity Initiative, formed regional and national partnerships with scholars and practitioners in reconciliation, created Seattle Pacific’s only pre-college outreach program, advised the ethnic-minority scholarship program, assisted the Faculty Diversity Committee in forming the Reconciliation Studies Minor Program, created the Justice Speaks Lecture Series, co-produced the auto-biographical documentary of John Perkins entitled Let Justice Roll On, and developed reconciliation training programs for ministry, churches, and non-profits.


Hairston is a student of the life and legacy of John M. Perkins and is currently responsible for leading the educational advancement of reconciliation and community development at Seattle Pacific. Managing a diverse staff and resourcing students, staff, faculty, alumni, and stakeholders; Hairston oversees co-curricular programs in global and urban service learning programs, intergroup dialogue, and experiential education opportunities in justice, poverty, ethnic identity, and cultural capacity.


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 - has been 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, Paris, Belgium, Jamaica, and South and Central Africa have opened his perspective and contributed to his depth of understanding in trauma healing, reconciliation, and community development.


Hairston has written several articles on issues of reconciliation and community development, co-teaches and guest lectures in a host of courses, co-teaches for Fuller Seminary’s Youth Institute, and leads a profound “interpreting the city” program with Asbury Seminary and a variety of other organizations and ministries. As a speaker, lecturer, preacher, and trainer, both domestically and internationally, Hairston brings his local hands on organizational and leadership knowledge together with his theological training in reconciliation and community development.