Kafele Khalfani, Ed.D.

Dean of Diversity

San Diego, CA

Dr. Kafele J. Khalfani has served as Dean of Diversity and head of Smarty Pants’ Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility (IDEA) initiatives since 2020. In this role, Kafele leads the company on all issues related to diversity and inclusion—from talent acquisition and professional development, to expanding the company’s cultural resource library, to establishing diversity-related best practices in market research. Kafele is also responsible for the creation of internal and client-facing content and activities designed to broaden multicultural literacy and deepen consumer empathy.​

Diversity education has been at the center of Kafele’s educational life since his early college years at Syracuse University as a founding member of PEOPLE Together—a multicultural group of Peers Eliminating Oppression & Prejudice by Learning and Educating Together. At College of Staten Island, Kafele was tasked with pluralism and diversity programming for the college. He has also led numerous intercultural retreats for students and managed dialogue circles to encourage communications at Loyola Marymount University. Additionally, Kafele has served as a trainer for faculty and staff at UC Riverside where he also facilitated the Making Excellence Inclusive program. In 2023, Dr. Khalfani served as a DEI consultant and resource for Gettysburg College as they transitioned between Chief Diversity Officers. ​

Kafele’s rich educational background and his professional background in advertising and communications make him a perfect match for Smarty Pants.


Kafele’s professional career began as an Account Executive at Ogilvy & Mather in New York City. His clients included Cotton Incorporated and The Hershey Company. He also spent a year working on pharmaceutical brands at Ogilvy Healthcare. Kafele later relocated to California and served in a similar role at Suissa Miller Advertising where his brands included Rice-A-Roni and Dole Fresh Salads. ​

In 2001, advertising gave way to Kafele’s true calling for a career in higher education. Over the past two decades he has worked with the 18-24 demographic on college campuses—namely, Loyola Marymount University; Marymount California University; University of California, Riverside; College of Staten Island, and University of California, San Diego. His positions have included directorship of residence life, student organizations, leadership opportunities, orientation, student government, judicial affairs and community development.

In addition to his Smarty Pants role, he also currently serves as the Director of Housing and Residential Engagement at California State University, Fullerton. ​


As a lifelong learner, he received his Bachelor of Science in marketing from Syracuse University before earning a Master of Arts in advertising from Michigan State University and a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University. Kafele later became Dr. Khalfani when he received his Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California.​


A native New Yorker, Kafele resides in San Diego. He is arguably one of the best foster parents in San Diego; he’s been dad to 12 tweens/teens over the past eight years!

When he isn’t busy serving on the Board of Directors of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center, he will be toiling away to achieve his 2024 goal of writing a Christmas movie. ​

Fun Facts

  • Kafele means “worth dying for” in Yoruba (a Nigerian language)​
  • Has been to three continents, but has a goal to visit six (sorry, Antarctica)​
  • Was a radio DJ in college in the 90s. Most requested song: “Baby Got Back”​
  • Is a pop culture trivia expert​
  • Will participate in any 5K that comes with a medal