Alumna Errica Rivera was chosen for the Harding Board of Trustees on Oct. 28, 2016. Board members are chosen after candidates are recommended by a current member.
The committee within the board then reviews and interviews the potential candidates with final full board approval. She was added at this time along with Rodney Waller and will attend her first board meeting in May. President Bruce McLarty said that the board is essential to the operation of the university and explained what each member’s role looks like.
“The primary tasks of the board are to ensure the university’s faithfulness to our mission and that the university’s finances are in good order,” McLarty said. “(Board members) serve as advocates and ambassadors for the university. They hire and regularly evaluate the president. Their importance to the university cannot be overstated.”
Rivera was born in Buffalo, New York. Growing up, her family created a traveling singing group called the Melodious Acapella Singers and her brother wrote songs such as “Cool Inside” and “Heaven’s on the Other Side.”
“Our family was a very musical family, so there wasn’t a weekend, fellowship or youth function that did not include some element of song or theater,” Rivera said. “When you visited our home, you knew that you would somehow be entertained. When there was nothing to do, we would make up things to do … create and record our own version of soap operas, make up songs about any and everything, play games and practical jokes on one another … our home was filled with laughter and love and never a dull moment.”
While a student at Harding from 1986 to 1991, Rivera was a member of women’s social club Regina and the Good News Singers as well as a Spring Sing host in both 1989 and 1991. In 1990 she became the first African-American homecoming queen. Rivera graduated in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
“So many wonderful times and rich memories were made during my years at Harding … probably most significant was the opportunity to meet lifelong friends who I now consider to be extended members of my family,” Rivera said. “During this time, we learned so much about one another and how to deal with this unique obstacle course called ‘life’. As young adults, we were very new to this ‘life away from home’ reality, so we basically grew up together on campus and learned that the key to maintaining any level of sanity while away from home was to keep God first, keep a core of supportive friends nearby, minimize outside distractions and not to take ourselves too seriously. Once we found that rhythm, life away from home became so much easier.”
After graduating, she worked at Northeastern Christian Junior College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she met her husband. They married in 1993 and have two children aged 12 and 6. She has also worked for Coca-Cola and Nationwide Insurance, and she now serves as the director of associate advocacy and culture for State Auto Insurance Companies.
“The primary responsibility of this role is to develop people partnerships with senior leadership to define and implement annual organizational goals for corporate culture enhancement, associate engagement, talent attraction and diversity and inclusion,” Rivera said. “As a marketing major, I am able to exercise those muscles a bit as well in driving the development and articulation of a compelling employment brand to enhance the flow of highly qualified, diverse talent toward careers in our industry.”