Meet Melissa Harris

Melissa is the vice president of marketing at Origin Investments, a real estate investment firm that is making it as easy to invest in privately-held commercial real estate online as it is in stocks and bonds. Prior to joining Origin, where she oversees its online investing platform, she was a Pulitzer Prize-nominated business columnist at the Chicago Tribune. She previously worked as a metro reporter at the Baltimore Sun and The Orlando Sentinel. She recently completed her MBA at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and gave birth to her first child six weeks after graduation. She has been named among the 50 most influential people in Chicago tech on Twitter by both BuiltInChicago and Chicago Inno.


What inspires you?
Successful entrepreneurs. It's one of the reasons I left journalism for Origin Investments. As a business columnist at the Tribune, I was always writing about other people doing great things. And I eventually concluded that writing was a poor substitute for doing. 

Who do you admire?
My mother, Cheryl Harris, who at age 58 is getting her master's degree in nursing while working full-time managing a large hospital department. Former Chicago Tribune managing editor Jane Hirt, for taking a one-year "radical sabbatical" from work and during that period saying "yes" to every invitation she received. And my husband, Eric Lomonaco, who has so many passions, from running marathons to brewing kombucha. Participating alongside him in those activities when I can brings me a lot of joy.

What is your favorite place to travel to?
The Faroe Islands. My husband and I discovered them thanks to our subscription to National Geographic Traveler, which ranked the islands the best in the world in 2007. (Article attached.) The islands are a Danish archipelago located between Iceland and Norway, and its Nordic culture is as majestic as the landscape. My dream is for my daughter to one day spend a summer abroad here.

What scares you?
Quite frankly, missing a student loan payment. Getting an MBA was one of the smartest decisions I ever made -- I highly recommend it -- but student loans do alter one's appetite for risk, at least in the short term.

Who helped get you here?
Many people but among the most important is Tim Franklin, now CEO of the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank and owner of the Tampa Bay Times. Tim hired me three times, once each as editor in chief of the Indianapolis Star, the Orlando Sentinel and the Baltimore Sun. And he recommended me for my job at the Chicago Tribune, where he previously managed the sports and business departments. I encourage all women to find "their Tim" -- their sponsor, someone with the power to hire -- as early as they can in their careers.

Want more? Connect with Melissa on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.