Latasha Morgan has had many roles in her 20 years at Harlem Children’s Zone: leader of parent and community support, coordinator, event emcee, hype woman, parent.
But perhaps no other title has been as important as this one: neighbor.
Across her two-plus decades at Harlem Children’s Zone, Latasha has invested time and energy into getting to know the children, families, and community members who live in our 97-block zone. She’s someone they look to for support on parenting, accessing our pipeline of services, and even improving their jump shot (Latasha was a Division II star college basketball player).
Latasha — now the director of parent and community engagement — is a bright light in our community, an ever-smiling source of love, joy, and positivity. It’s no surprise that, when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2019, the entire community rallied to help her beat the disease.
“The impact I’ve been able to make on our children, parents, and staff is priceless,” Latasha says. “So is the impact they’ve made on me.”
Knocking on doors
Latasha is one of the many Harlem Children’s Zone staff members who were born and raised in Harlem. She knows that building a successful program means building trust and familiarity with those she serves.
It’s an approach she’s come back to throughout her career. When Latasha became director of Countee Cullen Community Center in 2005, she chatted with residents on their stoops, asked drug dealers to stop selling in front of the Center, and only ordered breakfast from the Red Rose restaurant down the street.
Today, she’s doing the same as director of Community Pride and The Baby College. In the former role, Latasha leads a public-facing team of grassroots connectors and problem solvers devoted to empowering our community and providing essential services. In the latter role, she manages a program that educates new and expectant parents on the ins and outs of early childhood development.
“Without community engagement, there is no Harlem Children’s Zone,” Latasha says. “I tell folks, ‘I’m not too far from who you are and where you’re from.’”