Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin will join Eckerd College as COO in 2022

Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin will join Eckerd College as COO in 2022

Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin stands in front of a blue wall with the word "neighborhood" written in yellow.
Photo courtesy of Kanika Tomalin

St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Kanika Tomalin will serve as the vice president for strategy and chief operating officer at Eckerd College at the end of her term in January, 2022.

A voracious reader, a champion for the Humanities, a person who has dedicated their life to the betterment of their community, Kanika Tomalin’s work ethic and experience make her a perfect fit for the waterfront college.

Since 2014, Tomalin has served as deputy mayor of the city her family has called home for five generations. Tomalin’s next role will be at Eckerd, a private college of liberal arts and sciences in south St. Petersburg, situated on a 188-acre waterfront campus. 

Dr. Kanika Tomalin is the strategic thinker Eckerd College needs

“Dr. Tomalin has a proven track record as a strategic thinker, an efficient implementor, a consensus-builder, a fiscal innovator and an enthusiastic advocate for St. Petersburg,” says Eckerd College President Damián J. Fernández, Ph.D. “She will be a critical partner as we seek to implement the initiatives in our new strategic plan, in particular those that will strengthen the College’s connections with St. Petersburg for both the City’s and the College’s benefit.”

Senior leadership at Eckerd College marries Tomalin’s track record of community-focused outcomes and passionate advocacy for equitable community revitalization, healthy families, at-risk youth and education with Eckerd’s strong vision and commitment to its students, faculty, staff and the community it calls home.

“I am inspired by President Fernández’s clear vision for the future of Eckerd College and excited to bring passionate, experience-guided commitment to its people, purpose and mission,” she says. “It is an honor to accept this invitation to help author Eckerd’s next chapter at this critical juncture of my own.”

Tomalin will oversee infrastructure planning at Eckerd

Tomalin’s inspiring track record of supporting the arts and humanities, in addition to her vital role in uplifting the entire community make her an integral addition to Eckerd. The Not My Son initiative, launching Healthy St. Pete, publishing a cook book dedicated to our local restaurants at a time when they needed the support the most, and overseeing tremendous growth in the Sunshine City all represent Tomalin’s ambitious resolve.

In her new role at Eckerd, Tomalin will oversee operations and strategic advancement—including infrastructure planning, large capital projects, environmental sustainability and resilience projects—while engaging external support of the College’s key priorities, including the development of the St. Petersburg Center for Engaged Citizenship and Social Impact.

The Center will bridge Eckerd’s campus and the neighboring community, and reinforce Eckerd’s role as an anchor institution in the Tampa Bay area. Through partnerships, the College will provide real-world opportunities for students to develop professional skills and the empowerment required to be active citizens and agents of change. It will serve as an incubator for new creative endeavors, providing intentional integration between the city and the classroom.

“Working to build an inclusive City of Opportunity is a call to service that will long transcend my time as a government official. This transition into higher education leadership at Eckerd, a college that is committed to the equitable provision of a world-class liberal arts education for all scholars who seek it, is a wonderful pathway by which to answer,” Tomalin says. “Education is a transformational tool that serves to open doors, change lives and shift trajectories. It is opportunity defined.” 

Dr. Kanika Tomalin’s path to Eckerd College

Dr. Tomalin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcast journalism from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, an MBA from the University of Miami, and a Doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern University. She began her career in St. Petersburg at the St. Petersburg Times before joining Bayfront Medical Center in 2000 as a fundraiser.

She later joined the Public Affairs Office at Bayfront and became manager in 2004. She served as director of corporate communications for four years and then was promoted to executive director, then vice president, of strategic planning and public affairs in 2010 and 2011. Before her appointment as deputy mayor in 2014, she served as the regional vice president of external affairs for the Bayfront Health Network and director of strategy for Health Management Associates’ 23-hospital Florida Group. In 2018, her scope expanded to include city administrator, a role in which she oversees all administrative and operations functions for the City of St. Petersburg.

She will join Eckerd College at the conclusion of Mayor Rick Kriseman’s term.

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