His father was a chef and Harris followed in his footsteps when he graduated from the culinary program at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, now
Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Harris started as a dishwasher before taking a job as a kitchen intern in St. Augustine. He lists some of North Florida’s historic restaurants on his resume, including Beauclerc Country Club, Preben Johansen’s Le Chateau restaurant in Jacksonville Beach and Fred Abood’s Green Derby, among others.
Harris later moved into the executive suite and has served as director or manager of food and beverage or general manager at several properties in the area.
He serves on Downtown Vision Inc.’s board of directors and is an ex officio member of Visit Jacksonville’s board of directors and has served as a member of the JAX Chamber board of governors.
Harris also has been involved with the local hospitality industry. He’s a past president and board member of the North Florida Hotel & Lodging Association and former chairman of the Jacksonville International Airport Management Council.
In June 2011, Harris was named general manager of the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel Downtown on the Southbank. It’s a 320-room conference center hotel with more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space, including a rooftop ballroom.
Donald Harris, chairman of the City Office of Economic Development’s Downtown Investment Authority, has a substantial background in the hospitality industry and management.