la tanya e. simms

Ms. Simms coordinates ministry activities and events and manages all administrative and financial functions for The Open Church. She and her wife, Dr. Kamala Via, CRNP-PMH, have been active members since 2012. They are deeply committed to a community where their time, talent, and treasure is valued and celebrated.

La Tanya is a well-respected leader and mentor having gained extensive leadership and program/project management experience in the U.S. Navy's Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), retiring at the rank of Captain after 26 years. She was the first African American woman in the CEC to rise to this rank in Navy history.

La Tanya served in all facets of the CEC. In the Naval Construction Force (Seabees), she was an Officer in Charge in Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) THREE; Chief Staff Officer, THIRTIETH Naval Construction Regiment; and Commanding Officer, NMCB FOUR. During those tours, she successfully led teams in Guam; Surabaya, Indonesia; Souda Bay, Greece; and Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM three times.

Additionally, La Tanya garnered extensive facilities management and contract acquisition expertise in the Navy. Among other accomplishments, she led the development of restoration projects for Navy bases that sustained severe damage during Superstorm Sandy and one of her most memorable assignments was with Combined Disaster Assistance Center - Pakistan, directing the engineer effort after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake devastated the Kashmir region in 2005.

Post naval service in 2017, La Tanya led the capital programs team at Northwestern University in the design and construction of projects valued over $1.5 billion, notably a new 14-story biomedical research facility in downtown Chicago; a new indoor practice, competition, and recreation facility; and renovation of the university's basketball and volleyball arena in Evanston, IL.

In 2019, La Tanya launched TLK Graphic Solutions, a graphic design studio that helps organizations and small businesses creatively communicate ideas.

Born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida, La Tanya holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Florida A&M University, Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida, Master of Professional Studies (Business of Art and Design) from Maryland Institute College of Art, and a Professional Certificate in Graphic Design from Sessions College of Professional Design. She also completed the Naval Post Graduate School's Corporate Business Course and Harvard Kennedy School's Senior Executive Fellows program.