la tanya e. simms

Ms. Simms coordinates ministry activities and events and manages all administrative and financial functions of 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 the owner and executive designer of TLK Graphic Solutions. TLK helps organizations and small businesses creatively communicate ideas. She 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 and renovation of the university's basketball and volleyball arena in Evanston, IL.

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 Harvard Kennedy School's Senior Executive Fellows program.