Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

| learning-centered educator, media innovator and artist

Professional Analysis Profile and Plan (PAPP)

  1. Focusing On You

Do you have a professional mission statement?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, he describes three types of people—Mavens, Salespeople and Connectors. Salespeople make change happen through persuasion. Mavens make change happen through information and ideas. Connectors make change happen through people. I am, and have always been a connector first and foremost. I am proud to witness my skills develop as an information-savvy maven and salesperson gifted in persuasion, too. But, at the root of my work is my passion for connecting people to opportunities, services and supports that best serve them.

My professional mission statement is, "Striving to provide quality services, supports and opportunities for the students I serve and employees I lead."

 What are your values? 

I recently took the Clifton Strengths Finder Assessment  and found that my top 5 strengths are Strategic, Achiever, Activator, Intellection and Maximizer. 

Who are your friends and why?

My closest friend is my partner and co-parent, Ben Dawson. He is a graphic artist and webmaster with advanced technological knowledge. Every job I have held, he has been my consultant when it comes to technology issues—from purchasing, training and using.

One of my good friends, Jocelyn, I met in 2001 when she and I worked at Covenant House Washington is still a close friend of mine. She and I wound up teaching at Prince George’s Community College together (she was there way before me) and she is probably the longest friendship I have that started as a professional association. She was the main support when I implemented the inaugural conference for my organization the College Media Arts and Communication Association.

My other dear friends are three women I work with as part of my arts collective Liberated Muse Arts Group. I find that I need to be friends with people I create with artistically or it will be a disaster. Although I love these women dearly, we do not do much together outside of our performances and rehearsals. The arts are as important to me as my work in education. In fact, the work I do as a performance artist is fueled by my life as an educator. I am a playwright, poet, short fiction writer, stage actor and singer and most of my work is fueled by the history and artistry of people of the African Diaspora. Through our art we educate and I keep that tradition up through my collective Liberated Muse. The skills I have developed as a performer have made me a compelling educator, engaging my students in ways that extend outside of traditional means.

Is the job you currently hold all you expect it to be? 

I rate my success on my willingness and ability to speak and (more importantly) ACT truth to power and will not use my current nor future authority as a gatekeeper to maintain an unjust status quo that bring undue hardship and misfortune to others. While I do not believe education is an equalizer, I do believe education provides a pipeline of eager learners able and ready to be agents of change for good. While a school to prison pipeline has been documented to exist, I am engaged in work that is creating a school to success pipeline where learners who have been marginalized, demoralized and generally told they are less-than can learn, apply their learning and implement good things in their communities. My current job is a space to do that work while I work on my doctorate. I am doing the work that facilitates a school to success pipeline by working with students who experience the risk factors that impact low academic achievement. The program I coordinate is giving students a chance to attend college after they satisfy the program requirements.

What is special about you?

My program that I created through the Interdisciplinary Studies major was "African-American Studies and Mass Media". I minored in Writing. I find it special that at 17 years-old as a freshman, I chose to create, examine and choose an interdisciplinary program that honored my personal interest in how disciplines can be explored in a way that affirms and acknowledges their intersections with one another. Approaching my college career in an interdisciplinary way has shaped and strengthened my ability to synthesize information in a way that recognizes nuance quickly, makes focused connections and broadens limited perspective. As an entrepreneur, this certainly has helped me in attracting clients from varied backgrounds, while, as a youth worker and educator, it has helped me when serving diverse populations, allowing me to develop a skill set that is flexible and applicable to almost any environment.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, he describes three types of people—Mavens, Salespeople and Connectors. Salespeople make change happen through persuasion. Mavens make change happen through information and ideas. Connectors make change happen through people. I am, and have always been a connector first and foremost. I am proud to witness my skills develop as an information-savvy maven and salesperson gifted in persuasion, too. But, at the root of my work is my passion for connecting people to opportunities, services and supports that best serve them.

What issues/challenges in your life must be addressed for you to execute your mission? 

I think I am a good path as long as I stay true to who I am as a person and refrain from abandoning my values as a community organizer to fit in or get ahead.

Do you know anyone who has accomplished what you desire?

I am a big admirer of Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of UMBC. I attended UMBC when he was provost and when he became president. I love the work he has done as the founder of the Meyerhoff Scholarship program when he was provsot of UMBC and the work he has done for over 20 years as leader of UMBC. He has remained at UMBC to continue to build the community there despite being vetted for jobs at Ivy league schools, which he has turned down.



  1. Focusing on Your Professional Development Plans

Do you have plans or are you waiting for someone else to identify your plans for you?

That has never been something I do. I don't even understand that question.

What are your specific short and long term goals? 

I began this current job last spring after working as a faculty advisor for student publications at Prince George’s Community College. The position was an adjunct position, but, it served me well because I was touring regularly with Liberated Muse and as a solo artist, I had several clients I was helping write books and I was homeschooling my daughter at the time. When my daughter wanted to attend the performance arts school she got accepted into, I let her go back to school and looked for work to bring more money in the home. When I got hired at Morgan, I decided to start the CCLDP because I had been planning to go back to get a doctorate degree for two years. I wanted to apply to the Language, Culture and Literacy doctoral program at UMBC at first, but, the CCLDP was my second choice and I was able to apply tuition remission to the tuition as an employee of Morgan. 

I am interested in going back to teaching college students in some area of communication(s) until I finish my degree program.

Are you able to differentiate your goals from the goals of the people around you? 

Yes. I have vision and focus and I don't compare myself to others.

What are the factors that you must consider to facilitate your plans? 

I like to pay attention to how my actions impact my family. If what I am doing takes me away from being present (mentally, spiritually and physically) then, it is something I need to re-evaluate. I waited this long to go back to school because my daughter's development is of the utmost importance. 

  1. Analyzing Your Plans

What do you really want?

Because I do a lot of things, people often ask me what my goal is. Ideally, I would like to be teaching as a full-time faculty member right now, but, full-time teaching assignments are hard to come by. I also am working on developing a communication leadership institute for community college executives. I think training executives need to be trained in how to speak as spokesman, how to manage campus communications effectively as the brand leader and how to use technology effectively as a communicator. I have the expertise to develop this type of consultancy as a communication practitioner and higher education professional. This is the type of work I see myself doing as I complete my degree. Once I finish my doctorate, I would like to work as a Dean of Arts and Sciences at a community college. I would do that for about five to seven years before beginning work as a community college president. I would be in my early to mid- 50’s and would have had a substantial employment record as well as numerous published books and papers to demonstrate proficiency in research and general expertise in higher education. The reality is that I will have multiple streams of income, no matter what I decide to do ultimately.

What motivates you to pursue what you want?

I love working in a college environment and I love sharing what I have learned.

Do you have the resources required to pursue what you want?

While I get through all of these personal choices and situations that can be overwhelming if I don’t focus, I have to make the effort to create a network. I have been trying to be more social and interactive and get to know the faculty in my department despite it being an online program. I want to get to know people so I can make good choices about who to choose for my dissertation committee and just know people in general to feel membership and belonging. I’ve joined the Graduate School Student Association and visited my department’s chairperson. She then linked me with another student who I have a lot in common with and hope to get to know better. 

Do you feel valued by the “necessary” people in your life?

I do. 

What are the characteristics of the people you admire the most? 

Hard-working, keen sense of inquiry and reflection, ethical and conscious of the world around them.


  1. Constructing Your Professional Development Plan

Can you identify your specific goals?

The reality is that I am very flexible in my outlook regarding where I will wind up because I recognize that things manifest in ways you may least expect it. I was the person who had specific plans written out in explicit detail and would get angry when my plans were derailed. I had had a goal of being an executive director and became one and realized it was not aligned with what I wanted to do anymore, and did other things. I randomly applied to teach at Northern Virginia Community College in 2011 after an organization I worked for lost funding to pay for my position, and I was hired on the spot. That is how I wound up teaching at the community college level. I hadn’t thought much about community colleges and here I was teaching in one and I did so for about four years. I then went on to work at Prince George’s Community College and returned to Morgan with a new outlook on the opportunities that community colleges provide students. So, five years from now, I may have an even expanded outlook. I know wherever I do go; I will be well-equipped to be a change agent for good.

Are you able to assess your strengths and weaknesses?

Yes. So, with that said, moving forward, I have the general plan already in motion and my doctoral program and current position are preparing me with the expertise and education necessary to reach my goal. I am intentional communicator and have strong skills in being direct and aware of what message I am sending and the interference that may temper that message to work for me or against me.

Have you aligned your actions with your aspirations?


Do you profit from your mistakes?


Do you know how to be an advocate for yourself?


 Do you spend time with positive people?

I try, but, often, others expect me to solve their problems or listen to their drama. That is in line with working with students, but, becomes a problem when it is coming from social acquaintances and family.

Do you make it a habit to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally?

I like to think that I do, but, I definitely could be doing better.

Do you have a mental fitness plan?


How do you handle the stresses of the mind and heart?  

Sleep, prayer and talk therapy.  


  1. Managing Your Professional Journey

Do you trust yourself to manage your life and career?

I trust myself to manage my life and career, but, as I wrote earlier, I know that a lot of what will actually happens has to do with what opportunities 

Are you qualified to manage something as important as the rest of your life?

I have access to the world in which I am planning to enter. I find that we are often prepared for a world that is not always amenable to people who have been othered by society. I have a lot of the things the mainstream world expect from a leader—I am well-spoken, professional appearing and I have charisma when interacting with individuals and large groups. However, my empathetic nature and commitment to justice and fairness are traits that I don’t expect my journey to be easy if I plan to work within the system that exists. But, a hard journey does not mean an impossible journey. 

Can you draw an organizational chart of your life? Who is on top?

I am on top of the organizational chart of my life. I am in all of the roles in my organizational chart, wearing different hats and pulling from different strengths and skills I've acquired over the years.

What resources and skills do you need to complete your journey?

I have had severely harsh circumstances try to obstruct my momentum and I have prevailed. However, as I get older, I wonder if my stamina and initiative will keep me going, as, I can feel sometimes the weight of the world burdening me a little bit more as each year passes. Self-care will be of the utmost importance and I truly hope to build a network of support and fellowship among those in the field as I progress in this program and make connections.



  1. Getting Started

When do you plan to get started? If not now, when? If not you, then who will do this for you? 

I am already on my path. I am/have worked in the field as both teaching faculty and staff at a community college and I am enrolled in a doctoral program for leadership in community college development. The easy part has begun, starting. The journey continues.

With student leaders of The Owl Newspaper at Prince George's Community College (2014)

With the editors of Reflections Magazine at Prince George's Community College (2015)

With women of Liberated Muse during an event (2016)

Performing with Liberated Muse in the Artscape festival (2015)