Monica L. Coleman, program officer, joined RWJF in 2023. Monica is a community-powered researcher and evaluator who leverages her expertise in counselor education, journalism, community organizing, and public policy advocacy to instigate and engage in grantmaking that bridges the gap between communities, scholars, and policymakers. Her research and evaluation work centers the leadership, voice, and power of those most impacted by structural oppression in efforts to foster a more just society.
Born and raised in the deep poverty of the Mississippi Delta, Monica decided early in her multi-faceted career to focus on disrupting narratives and norms that create inequities. She started in Texas as an award-winning journalist before launching into social entrepreneurship to engage more deeply with communities fighting injustices. Upon relocating to Mississippi, Monica joined the mental health field as an adolescent and substance use counselor, which opened her eyes to systemic issues undergirding health inequities. Prior to joining the Foundation, Monica worked as an evaluator, strategist, and facilitator for community-led systems change initiatives through her independent consultancy, Doing the Work: Counseling & Consulting LLC. Concurrently, she spent the past few years working for a university-based evaluation center, where she advocated for equitable evaluation and led an empowerment evaluation focused on housing in one of the country’s most persistent poverty counties.
Monica is a leader in evaluation and counselor education. She is a member of the American Evaluation Association and its affiliate, Gulf Coast Evaluation Network, where she serves as a 2023–2024 board member. As a member of the American Counseling Association and its division, American Counselor Education and Supervision Association, Monica is currently completing a presidential appointment to the division’s taskforce on environmental justice. She is a member and scholarly contributor to the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling.
Monica earned a BA in Communications (Journalism) from the University of Texas at Arlington, a BS in Psychology from the University of Houston, and a MS in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Memphis. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at the University of Mississippi, where she is also completing the Graduate Minor in Applied Statistics. Monica holds national certifications as a Clinical Rehabilitation Counselor and National Certified Counselor.
Monica, her partner, and their three sons currently reside in Mississippi, where she finds great joy and inspiration in doing the work that supports the liberation of oppressed communities. Her work on public policy advocacy as an intervention when serving minority populations is recognized by the National Board for Certified Counselors for its innovation in counseling. For her academic commitment to social justice and liberation, she earned a 2023 U.S. Congressional Special Recognition and the 2022–2023 One Voice Social Consciousness Award.
Monica enjoys baking, dancing, reading, completing crossword puzzles, bowling, and creating and sharing knock-knock jokes with her family in her spare time.