Ali received her BA in political science and African Studies from Williams College, with highest honors awarded for her thesis in African Studies. She received her M.A. in Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Teacher Education from the University of Pennsylvania, under the mentorship of Dr. Howard Stevenson and Dr. Shaun Harper. Her current research and writing focus on supporting teachers to mitigate the unintentional, pervasive effects of institutional and individual racism in their classrooms. She also studies how white families racially socialize their children.
Ali has made two films, both of which portray students discussing their experiences of race. She is also the author of “My Scar, My Road,” the biography of South African feminist activist Gertrude Nonzwakazi Sgwentu, which demonstrates the long term effects of racism and White supremacy on one woman growing up under Apartheid.
Association and Media Publishing Gold Award for Best Feature Article in 2014, granted for “What White Children Need to Know about Race” by Ali Michael and Eleonora Bartoli, published in Independent School Magazine.
William E. Arnold Award, granted by the Graduate School of Education community at the University of Pennsylvania for outstanding contributions by a doctoral student in 2012.
Ruth Landes Memorial Fellowship, granted for the 2011-2012 school year for dissertation completion and post-doctoral work.
Faculty Diversity Grant, granted for the year 2005-2006 as part of a Teaching Assistantship in Race, Class and Schooling: an Ethnographic Approach at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, granted for the year 2000-2001 to research locally initiated community development in Bangladesh, India, Senegal and Ghana.
Williams College Class of 1946 Travel Fellowship, granted for the summer of 1999 to research and write the biography of South African feminist activist Gertrude Nonzwakazi Sgwentu in Cape Town, South Africa.