Tara Marshall-Hill’s path to impact and building a legacy
By John Kregler, StartOut
One word above all represents Tara Marshall-Hill’s professional journey.
The impact Tara (she/her) has on companies, teams, and individuals motivates every decision she makes. Tara’s sense of purpose is driven by the desire to positively impact another, whether in coaching or consulting, training or mentoring.
“If I don’t feel like what I’m doing is affecting someone or something, I feel a sense of discontent. I love seeing a little bit of care and dedication go a long way. I love to see how I’ve helped shift something for someone, their way of thinking or vision, or their belief in what’s possible.”
Tara was born in Jamaica and spent her childhood between the Caribbean island and Buffalo, NY. At 17 years old, she left her home to attend college in Maryland and has been in the Washington metro area ever since. As a law student at Georgetown, Tara became active in the legal community as a member of Georgetown’s Black Law student association and the school’s legal clinics which allowed her to serve as student council for DCs often forgotten young people of color.
But Tara knew becoming a lawyer wasn’t in her path. Her passion for helping people grow far outweighed the expectations of others, which ultimately led to her position today, where she provides transformational business development and executive coaching to attorneys as a Senior Advisor with Ackert.
As a staunch IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) advocate and experienced marketing professional, Tara is breaking new ground with MarsHill Consulting — a brand consultancy that helps corporate organizations and professional service firms replace market confusion and mission creep with brand clarity, greater inclusion, and measurable social impact.
“Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion are important to me, and helping develop sustainable IDEA strategies across organizations so that they’re more than just buzzwords is my dream come true. For corporations and large professional service firms, DEI, D&I — however they refer to it — must be more than just a program or initiative. As a strategy, it has to be fully weaved into the DNA of the organization to leave an impact on longevity.”
In her own life, Tara found herself often being underestimated and her voice discounted. Standing at 5’1” as a Black, gay, neurodiverse woman, she’s had to fight for her seat at the table and uses those experiences to serve her clients.
Tara serves on the board of a local Maryland nonprofit that helps women who are victims of intimate partner violence when she noticed the lack of resources for same-sex couples in those situations. Just this year, Tara is spearheading the formation of our very first Washington D.C. chapter of the StartOut Programming Board to help serve the growing LGBTQ+ entrepreneur community in the nation’s capital.
Energized by a minor stroke in late 2021, Tara is also working on a DEI-focused startup called Heads Up @ Work™ to help democratize these initiatives, and is currently recording episodes for a podcast on intersectionality to launch this summer.
However, the space where Tara desires to have the most significant impact is in her home as a partner to her wife and mother to her children, aged 10 and 16.
“Because my experience pursuing passion was tied to an inability to sustain myself and my family — I created a separation between the two. I was pursuing a paycheck in my corporate career, and volunteering in my community. When my last employer was acquired, it became clear that I needed greater agency to create an impact in every space I occupied. I no longer want to choose between the two. I’m building a legacy through my consultancy and startup, supporting advocacy for victims of intimate partner violence, and deepening my relationship with my children and wife. I am exactly where I am meant to be.”