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Dr. Johnette Ruffner-Ceaser

Founder & CEO

I did everything right. I had been a good student, earned three degrees, and worked at several highly respected organizations.  My college advisor, colleagues, and mentors told me that once I completed my doctorate I would be overloaded with opportunities.
Well, opportunity didn’t come the way I expected.
This was my first time faced with unemployment. It left me feeling inadequate, embarrassed, and confused. I could not understand how I (using my British accent), Dr. Johnette Ruffner-Ceaser, could be experiencing this type of rejection.
One fall morning, I was drawn to an old scenic bridge. Surprisingly, it was there that I began to get answers to my daunting situation. The answers weren’t neatly wrapped in a new job; they were nestled in messy tears and high-pitched screams that triggered months of new revelations about me and my power.  My time on the bridge didn’t reveal all the answers, but it was enough to help me lick my wounds, change my perspective, and end the pity party.
Initially, I thought I wasn't skilled enough, smart enough, or savvy enough. Slowly, I began to realize my journey wasn't due to a lack of skill or intelligence; it was a journey of self-discovery and humility.  This experience was designed to show me I was well educated, but not well activated.  I needed to re-invent myself by changing my strategy.
The journey was also designed to bring my purpose and passion to the forefront, highlight my strengths, and ignite my gifts, talents, and voice that laid hidden in the shadows of others for many years. Finally, the journey was designed to help me to see the needs of others in a new way and give me a swift kick in the butt. It was time for Johnette to arrive and Liberated Expressions to be born.
I created Liberated Expressions to help address some of the personal and professional challenges many youth and women encounter from the classroom to the boardroom.  Throughout my career, I have encountered countless students and colleagues who had a desire to advance but weren't prepared and positioned to obtain new opportunities. They were either trapped by fear, limited in vision or didn't have a strategy. Given my personal experiences, educational and professional background, I have cultivated unique strategies to address those challenges and support the development of other strong leaders.
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Liberated Expressions is based on three core beliefs:

(1) Everyone has the ability to influence and affect change in themselves and others by maximizing their gifts, talents, and voice.

(2) Our gifts and talents can be used to unlock opportunities for success. 

(3) Gifts + Talents + Voice =



Before Liberated Expressions, I was a progressive nonprofit executive with over 16 years of leadership experience in education program management.  I developed my professional expertise through service at several amazing organizations. I served as the Managing Director of Programs at  College Summit, Inc., the College Success Initiative Coordinator for the Maryland Institute for Minority Achievement and Urban Education (MIMAUE), the Development and Marketing Manager for the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the National Director of Policy Training, the National Assistant Director of Education, and the National Coordinator for the Reginald F. Lewis Youth Entrepreneurship Institute  at the NAACP National Headquarters. I  have also provided resume writing workshops at one of several Maryland Workforce Centers and I have been a natural hair care advocate/stylist for more than a decade.


I am a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park, where I earned a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, with a specialization in Organizational Leadership.  I also earned a BA in Communication and an MA in Telecommunications from George Mason University.​


I am an impactful speaker and trainer.  I would love to support your next event. Book me!


Listen to my powerful message, Woman King: Transforming Career Women into Warriors. 

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When the Bow Breaks

Purchase a Copy of My Latest Book!


Pakina wants to get a new hair style so that she will look like all the other girls in her class, but Mom won’t let her.
One day, the most amazing thing happens – Pakina’s hair bow breaks! When Pakina’s hair is set free, it surprises everyone. What will she discover about being different?  
When the Bow Breaks is a heart warming story written to empower generations through unlimited demonstrations of self love and freedom.


The author, Dr. Johnette Ruffner-Ceaser, was inspired to write this book for her daughter and other girls who need to know they are beautiful...naturally.
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