Document Type


Publication Date



It has been fifty-seven years since the landmark decision of Brown vs. Board of Education was passed into law ending racial segregation in our public schools, fortyseven years since the civil rights bill was enacted into law, and forty-one years since the second wave of the women's rights movement. In my lifetime, I have witnessed many of the dreams that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. While the civil rights movement did improve the quality of life for many Black people, the old Negro anthem "We Shall Overcome Someday" has not been fully realized for everyone. In this dissertation, I will examine my personal and professional journey using my narrative and pivotal moments in my life to illustrate how I developed and sustained my leadership. I will explore how my leadership was formed and how I have struggled at times as an African American woman leading in Predominately White Institutions (PWIs). I will explore the importance of narrative and how it is embraced throughout African American culture as a way of teaching and learning about our differences.

Through my exploration of the social, historical, and political context that I was born into, I will examine the impact of navigating the challenging "ISM" dynamics from my personal and professional experiences and incorporate the stories of others through the lens of leadership, social capital, Black Feminism, and Womanism. I will uncover challenging racial, sexual, gender, class, and hostile environment dynamics within my student and professional experiences in PWIs. By incorporating my personal experience and the stories of others, I will explore effective coping strategies for African American women leading in PWIs to sustain their leadership. As a practitioner in the field of Facilities Management and Custodial Services, I will discuss the importance of my leadership role working with marginalized populations in the workforce.

I will utilize the writing methodology of Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) and, in particular, Epistolary Scholarly Personal Narrative (ESPN), which I will compose letters to my mother, my father, myself, African American women in higher education leadership, and finally to PWIs. Furthermore, I will examine how I made meaning through experiences with racism, sexism, genderism, and classism within hostile environments and examine how others make meaning of their experiences. I will also highlight opportunities for PWIs to develop inclusive environments to attract, recruit, and retain African American women in senior leadership roles in academia. I will examine the importance of how I made meaning through experiences with racism, sexism, genderism, classism, and hostile environments while examining how others make meaning in their lives. To conclude, I will reflect on my dissertation experience and discuss steps to move forward in the hope that this dissertation adds to the literature on underrepresented women like me leading in PWIs.

Included in

Education Commons