“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
— Audre Lorde


Khalilah M. Harris is a mother, equity navigator and fighter for education justice issues. Khalilah's career has been built on a commitment to ensuring equity in access to opportunity, regardless of zip code or genetic code. 

She previously served the American public with the Obama Administration as Senior Advisor to the Director of the US Office of Personnel Management where she led the convening of the first ever White House Summit on Diversity & Inclusion in Government. She was also the first Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, which President Obama established in 2012.  In that post, she focused her efforts on developing interagency relationships and served as a liaison to committees and advocacy groups relevant to policy priorities of the Initiative and the Administration. This included supporting educational access for Black new Americans and English Language Learners, disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, supporting the implementation of the first ever Male Educators of Color Summit at the US Department of Education, and working for equity in access to STEM coursework and careers. She also concentrated on cultivating opportunities for women and girls of color while serving as a member of the White House Council on Women & Girls' interagency working group for advancing equity and empowerment for women and girls of color.


A native of Brooklyn, New York, Khalilah has called Baltimore home since 1994 when she arrived to attend Morgan State University where she received her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. At Morgan State University, she extended her commitment to public service by regularly tutoring at area elementary schools and becoming a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. among many other activities. Naturally, Khalilah wanted to improve her ability to fight towards justice and continued her studies at the University of Maryland School of Law where she obtained her law degree. During law school Khalilah began to  lead a program providing law-related education to Baltimore high school students. Immediately following law school, she took on that role full time and led a team to design a new Baltimore high school focused on the law, community, and project-based learning. Once opened, Khalilah became a founding member of the school team, serving for ten years in different capacities. As a lifelong learner, Khalilah wanted to extend her knowledge about what it takes to build quality schools for every child and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development. 

When not at work, Khalilah can be found supporting her daughters, sharing with anyone who will listen ideas for expanding opportunity to every community for quality schools and careers of the future, volunteering with her sorority in East Baltimore, organizing with the national EduColor movement, and serving as co-chair of the Coalition of Black Leaders in Education.