Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Robert J. Nash

Second Advisor

Susan Comerford



Navigating systems of leadership in Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) in higher education as a Queer Woman of Color can be a challenging and complex process--one that integrates identity, experience, expertise, knowledge, patience, and most importantly the ability to risk; while remaining authentic and professional. It is a balance, which in my own experience and expertise requires constant reflection, evaluation, and adaptation. A negotiation of owning that one has power and agency, while realizing that the many intersecting identities that one holds influences how dominant culture perceives that power and agency. To reach authentic reflection and evaluation in leadership it is critical to examine and investigate one's own vocation to lead and to ask, what leads us and sustains us in that leadership?

This dissertation will offer a counter-narrative of leadership in prose-poetry through a lens of intersectionality outside of the hegemonic or dominant ways that define the parameters of leadership. Through the use of personal narratives reinforced by scholarship using the methodology of Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN), I explore my own experiences of trauma throughout my life that led to agency and inevitably to leadership. I additionally examine the overarching tenants and themes that continue to inform, sustain and strengthen my leadership.

"Damned If You Do--Damned If You Don't" represents a phrase often used amongst marginalized communities that signifies the challenges of navigating one's own power and agency within oppressive dominant systems. This SPN dissertation will be supported by the paradigms of Critical Race Theory (CRT) with a specific focus on Counter-Narrative/Storytelling and Critical Race Gendered Epistemology or Feminist Black/Latino Theory, while also incorporating aspects of positive psychology. It will offer a counter-narrative in leadership that highlights how my multiple intersecting identities, coupled with my life experiences, create meaning and go on to further shape my approach to trauma, agency, and leadership.

As a Queer woman of color in leadership, I find that by honoring and examining my own stories of trauma and agency, and how it led me to leadership. I am better equipped as a professional to honor the narratives, identities, and experiences of those that I serve.



Number of Pages

126 p.