Susan Harris, the CEO of See Rock City Inc., joined the organization in 2008 as director of human resources and organizational development. She became president in 2013 and added chief operating officer to her responsibilities in 2016. She was named CEO in July 2020 and, in addition to being the first person from outside the founding Chapin and Carter families to serve as CEO, she is the first woman to lead See Rock City Inc.
Harris is a member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, and a board member of the Chattanooga Tourism Company, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. In 2018, she won the Tourism General Manager of the Year Award from the Greater Chattanooga Hospitality Association prior to being selected at the state level by the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association.
What books have influenced your approach to your career?
My absolute favorite leadership book is "The Servant Leader" by James Autry. Originally published in 2001, it contains both theory and practical tips on being an authentic leader and creating space for people to bring their true selves to work. I also love almost everything by John Maxwell. This past summer, I re-engaged with his "Leadership Promises for Your Week," a weekly reflection that combines timeless leadership principles with a faith-centered foundation. With all the craziness of leading in the hospitality industry during a global pandemic, this book – and my commitment to spending time with it each week – has been invaluable. Our full management team is reading Maxwell's "How Successful People Lead" as part of our monthly lunch-and-learn series. Another favorite is Tony Hsieh's "Delivering Happiness."
What books have you recently read for pleasure that you're recommending to others?
Like many people, the events of the last year have caused me to question much of what I thought I knew, so much of my reading has been focused on faith and learning. I consumed "The Power of Love" and "Love is the Way," both from the Bishop Michael Curry, and "Faith Unraveled," by Rachel Held Evans. I read Emmanuel Acho's book, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man" after getting hooked by his video series of the same name. I am working my way through "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo. I also thoroughly enjoyed Michelle Obama's memoir, "Becoming." In the middle of all that, I'll throw in some John Grisham or David Baldacci for lighter entertainment.
What is next on your to-read list?
For Mother's Day, my husband got me "The Three Mothers" by Anna Malaika Tubs, so it is in line behind Jon Meacham's biography of John Lewis, "His Truth is Marching On."