We're excited to connect with our alumni through our Darlington Connects series. Today we hear from Tia (Brown) Coachman (‘01), who owns her own human resources firm called Affirma Consultancy.
If you read the recent blog on Acquania (Gibbs) Escarne (‘01), you already know how important friendship and connections are to these two alumni. Tia and Acquania arrived at Darlington as freshmen and like her dear friend, Tia maximized her Darlington experience.
“My friends at Darlington helped grow my independence and created a new family structure for me.” Tia said. “I was a varsity cheerleader the year we won the State Championship and I served as senior class vice president. My experience at Darlington was pretty good!”
She fondly remembers Marisa Ortega, her drama teacher; performing in “West Side Story” and “Kiss Me Kate;” and singing in the Concert Choir under the direction of Dan Bishop. She shared that she still keeps in touch with former faculty member Karen DiRaggiero.
After Darlington, Tia earned her B.B.A. from Howard University. She went on to work at the TSA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and started graduate school at the University of Maryland. Her husband had an opportunity to work in New York, so they made the move and Tia finished her MBA online. While there, she tested the waters as an entrepreneur and started a photography business with a friend. She said she really enjoyed the work but it was difficult to find a balance between running the business (specifically one with unconventional hours) and raising a young child. Career opportunities transferred the family to Oregon, where Tia worked for a number of years in human resources for the Portland office of the ad agency Wieden-Kennedy. Simultaneously, she was running a human resources consulting gig on the side.
“Human resources is a lonely place to be and sometimes you need a partner,” Tia said. In 2019, she started Affirma Consultancy, a human resources company that offers HR professionals support and guidance. She has partnered with companies to help them with diversity, equity and inclusion issues, and assessments. Affirma's main focus is helping businesses build diverse teams and retain talent, as well as the discovery of the organization's people problems.
Tia is especially excited to be working with “Oregon Consumer Justice” in building a startup non-profit. This group is hiring and building a diverse team that reflect their commitment to equity and create balanced solutions for all Oregonians. “It’s so exciting and fun to be helping this important group find the right people for their team,” she said. “Fifty-one percent of my team are black women, and I want to be intentional about lifting up other black women in the field of human resources. People who have made space for me in life, and people who are successful, have leaned on others for assistance. I want to be someone others can look to for assistance.”
Tia looks forward to being a part of Darlington Connects and sharing her expertise with Darlington students and alumni.
Are you a Darlington alum (or do you know one) with an interesting career or community involvement? We'd love to spotlight you in a future blog! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being featured.