Born and raised in a family of seven in a small town in Virginia just 10 miles from the capitol of the Confederacy during the Jim Crow era, Marilyn understands change and learned firsthand how to navigate through challenges and succeed.
While her parents both worked two jobs to support the family, she was expected to study hard, do well in school and help manage the household in her parents’ absence. She was guided by her grandparents – her grandfather was a well-respected pastor - who lived next door as well as an entire village of family and neighbors who were more than willing to not spare the rod for any child who got out of line.
Marilyn graduated in the top ten of her class, and was among the first to earn a National Merit Scholarship for Negro Students.
This earned her a scholarship to Virginia State College, a Historically Black Institution, where she majored in English Education. There she met and married her husband, an ROTC cadet and Distinguished Military Graduate, dropped out in her senior year and began her extraordinary journey as an Army Officer’s wife, mom and civil servant. Ten years and three children later she earned a Bachelor’s degree and Lifetime Teacher’s Certificate from the University of Missouri. Over twenty years of marriage they raised three amazing children, all of whom went on to earn their advanced degrees.
Marilyn later embarked on a solo journey.
Marilyn worked her way up in Civil Service to Senior Leadership positions and managed to earn three graduate degrees.
Marilyn's Master of Strategic Studies earned at the Army’s prestigious Senior Leadership School, the Army War College, Carlisle, PA is the most unique for a civilian. One of only 63 civilians selected as resident student in a class of 365, she studied with the military’s best and brightest officers including officers from NATO allied countries.
The academic preparation and the ability so speak the language of senior military officers made her uniquely qualified to serve as the Senior Procurement Executive for Army Intelligence shortly after 9/11. Having been assigned to the Pentagon on that dreadful day, she fully understood and grasped the gravity of the challenges. She served with distinction and earned the Civilian Meritorious Service award. Leaving that position, she was promoted to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Congressional investigator for the powerful House Appropriations Committee working on top secret assignments
Marilyn moved to Beaufort in 2015 and immediately went to work serving the community by serving on the Boards of local non-profits including the United Way of the Lowcountry, Second Helpings, SCORE and the Boys and Girls Club.
Her work as a long-term substitute taught her the needs of local school children, teachers and administrators. She saw the children who ran out of school supplies soon after school started and whose school uniforms were frayed and worn by mid-year and the teachers, nurses, and school administrators who filled the gaps. As a result, she worked with the United Way to establish Teachers Supply (Mimi’s) Closets in Title One schools throughout the county.
She later became the facilitator of the Lowcountry Affordable Housing Coalition a group of more than 100 members that represented local legislators, the Chamber of Commerce and other small business, realtors, non-profits, banks, churches and residents who worked together to examine and try to resolve the problems created by the lack of affordable housing in the community.
Perhaps the most impactful was her two and a half years of work as the Program Coordinator for the Collaborative Organization for Services for Youth (COSY) and its companion program COSA that serves adults. In this position she worked with all the social services programs and organizations in the county that serve families and garnered firsthand knowledge of the value of the already established Crisis Response and the need to support law enforcement by providing them with additional mental health counselors who can be available to support them on calls.
Marilyn Harris knows what it means to serve Beaufort County. She is a mom, a grandmother (Mimi) and a public servant. She is a proven leader, and she is ready and prepared to serve as your representative on County Council on Day one.