Khadijah Sharif-Drinkard was born and raised in Harlem, New York where she began her career as a political activist in the eighth grade. A product of the New York City public school system, Khadijah went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Columbia University in 1993. In 1997, she received her Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law. While at Fordham she was the Shari Lubell Scholar for the 1994-95 academic year; served as National Parliamentarian for the Black Law Students Association; received the Archibald Murray Public Service Award; received the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Fellowship; litigated three active cases at the Fordham Litigation Skills Clinic; served as Notes and Articles Editor for the Fordham Urban Law Journal; and published a legal note entitled Female Genital Mutilation: What Does the New Federal Law Really Mean?
While Khadijah has dedicated herself to achieving excellence in education, she has always made giving back to her community a priority. In 1989, she challenged the New York State Department of Education’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scholarship distribution procedures in Sharif vs. New York State Department of Education and was the victorious litigant. In 1990, the American Muslim Community recognized her commitment to service when they named her the Outstanding Muslim Youth of the Year at the Annual Islamic Convention.
Khadijah has traveled both nationally and internationally speaking to students, politicians, clergy, interfaith organizations, corporate heads and marginalized communities. She has committed herself to giving back by working in the area of human development. During her travels, she has addressed audiences in the townships of Soweto, Pretoria and Capetown, South Africa while serving on Mayor David Dinkins’ delegation where she represented the youth of New York City in 1991. During her time in South Africa Khadijah was the guest of Nelson and Winnie Mandela. Khadijah also had the opportunity to represent the concerns of young Americans while traveling to Rome during the same year.
In 1992, she was chosen by the United Nations as one of twelve scholars from across the United States to serve as a youth ambassador to Russia. Her task was to analyze the social, political, economic, cultural and environmental challenges of a country undergoing democratization. Upon her return to the United States, Khadijah shared her experiences abroad with diverse organizations in an effort to educate Americans about the challenges facing Russia. In 1995, Khadijah found herself traveling abroad again, this time as a Representative for Muslim American women to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. As a Representative, she had the opportunity to work with a myriad of women from around the world as well as the Women of Color Caucus where she served on the document committee and contributed by working on the Platform for Action.
In 2002, Khadijah threw her hat into the ring and ran for public office. While she did not win a seat on the Township Committee of Maplewood, NJ, she made a phenomenal showing, losing a seat by a mere three hundred votes. Khadijah has been featured as a young political activist on several television programs and has been spotlighted in the New York Times on more than one occasion. In 2005, she was a contributing author to the book Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak (Beacon Press) where she writes about her journey as an African American Muslim. In 2006, she served on the United States Delegation to the Iraqi-U.S. Women’s Summit held at the United Nations and later that same year she was an invited guest of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to Birmingham, UK to represent the concerns of African American Muslims. Today she serves as Vice President, Associate General for Viacom, Inc.’s Black Entertainment Television (BET) division where she oversees all business and legal affairs matters for the New York office. Prior to joining BET, Khadijah served as Vice President, Senior Counsel for Nickeolodeon (MTV Networks). Khadijah lives with her husband Craig and daughters Jalsa and Madinah in West Orange, New Jersey.