St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin will join Eckerd College as the school’s vice president for strategy and chief operating officer at the start of next year, dimming speculation around a potential congressional run.
Tomalin, who served in Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration since his initial election in 2014, will take on the role upon completion of this term, as Kriseman faces term limits.
Tomalin’s new role also dulls speculation around a run for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Tomalin, a Democrat, said she was considering entering the race back in June. The district is one of the most hotly contested seats in the state, and it will be an open election, with incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist vacating the seat to run for Governor.
According to a news release from the school, Eckerd College credited its hiring of Tomalin to her record and advocacy for equitable community revitalization, healthy families, at-risk youth, and education.
“Dr. Tomalin has a proven track record as a strategic thinker, an efficient implementer, a consensus-builder, a fiscal innovator, and an enthusiastic advocate for St. Petersburg,” Eckerd College President Damián J. Fernández said in a statement. “She will be a critical partner as we seek to implement the initiatives in our new strategic plan, in particular those that seek to strengthen the College’s connections with St. Petersburg for both the City’s and the College’s benefit.”
In her new role at Eckerd, Tomalin will oversee operations and strategic advancement — including infrastructure planning, large capital projects, and environmental sustainability and resilience projects — while engaging external support of the college’s priorities, including the development of the St. Pete Center for Engaged Citizenship and Social Impact.
“I am inspired by President Fernández’s clear vision for the future of the College and excited to bring passionate, experience-guided commitment to its people, purpose, and mission,” Tomalin said in a statement. “It is an honor to accept this invitation to help author Eckerd’s next chapter.”
The Center seeks to bridge the campus and the urban community, where students can participate in real-world opportunities.
“Working to build an inclusive City of Opportunity is a call to service that will long transcend my time as a government official. This transition into higher education leadership at Eckerd, a college that is committed to the equitable provision of a world-class liberal arts education for all scholars who seek it, is a wonderful pathway by which to answer,” Tomalin said in a statement. “Education is a transformational tool that serves to open doors, change lives and shift trajectories. It is opportunity defined.”
Tomalin earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, an MBA from the University of Miami, and a doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern University.
She started her career at the St. Petersburg Times. In 2018, she expanded her role with the city to include city administrator.