Taggart practices the business skills she teaches

Jaki Taggart is an educator and an entrepreneur.

As a professor and director of work force training, job satisfaction for Jaki Taggart is reflected in reports from students who have graduated from Pikes Peak Community College.

Taggart says that her proudest moment was reading a story in the Pikes Peak News, the student newspaper, about a student who returned to the classroom after a 30 years’ absence and described Taggart’s influence.

But Taggart is more than a professor — she’s also an entrepreneur. She operates an Internet-based business, Blackberry Boutique, and she and her husband recently bought The Alumni Bar, which will open Jan. 13.

She took time recently to tell CSBJ about herself and her organization.

Organization: Pikes Peak Community College

Position: Business professor and director of work force training

Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: My husband and I moved here in 1982 from Beverhaven, Germany.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in organizational management, Colorado Christian University; master’s degree in human resources, Chapman University; Ph.D. in organizational behavior and development; Union University.

A few words about your organization: Pikes Peak Community College is the largest post-secondary educational institution in Colorado Springs and offers the most widely accessible and affordable education in the region. It offers more than 125 programs of study in transfer liberal arts and sciences, career and technical training.

Recent accomplishments: I was featured in an article in Pikes Peak News, the campus newspaper.

A student wrote that I was “exactly the professor a student would want to mentor for whatever career they get into … Never have I experienced a more professional person such as Dr. Taggart in my life.” I also was a keynote speaker for Black History Month at Schriever Air Force Base, and was nominated for Business Citizen of the Year in 2005 by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Biggest career break: In 2001, I opened the Blackberry Boutique, a home-based Internet business specializing in designer suits, hats and purses, furs and leathers for women.

The toughest part of your job: At a community college, there is a lot of student diversity. It is not unusual to have a 65-year-old and a 16-year-old in the same class.

It is sometimes difficult to create balance and design course material/activities that stimulate learning for the gap in age differences.

Someone you admire: Oprah Winfrey. Each year she continues to impress me with her caring, giving spirit. She recently opened a $40 million leadership academy for poor South African girls in the town on Henley-on-Klip, about 40 miles from Johannesburg.

About your family: I’m married to my kindergarten sweetheart, McKinley Taggart. We have two children: Eryn, 23 and Ryan, 20.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: I’d simply like to continue to improve my efforts to be a better educator, entrepreneur and mentor.

How your business will change in the next decade: New technology will revolutionize the classroom. Gone are the days of lecturing and taking attendance. The future holds state-of-the-art multimedia stations which will captivate students with sound, color and real-life effects.

What book are you currently reading? “The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkinson

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I wish we had “pollution control officers.” We live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It makes me angry to see people dumping cigarette butts and other trash out of their car windows.