Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Marion, Russell A

Committee Member

Brewer, Curtis A

Committee Member

Satterfield, James W

Committee Member

Jones, Matteel D


This narrative research study explored the experiences of two Black women executive-level leaders who started their careers within higher education, including two-year technical colleges located in the Southeast during the pivotal sociopolitical moments that occurred during the1960s to the1980s. The stories of these women revealed their perceptions of the barriers they faced as well as the opportunities they received for career advancement as their careers evolved parallel to the development of the technical college system itself. Qualitative procedures, including semi-structured interviews and a combined narrative analysis and analysis of narratives interpretative framework (Connelly & Clandinin, 2006; Creswell, 2009; Kramp, 2004; Polkinghorne, 1995, as cited in Kramp, 2004, and in Creswell, 2007; and Roberts, 2002), illuminated a richly descriptive and complex perspective of these women's lived experiences. The theoretical frameworks of critical race theory and Black feminist theory - viewed through the historical lens of Southern racial politics - served as the foundation for the research questions. The guiding research question that framed this study was: What are the experiences of Black women executive-level leaders in Southeastern two-year colleges? The secondary questions were: How do Black women leaders' constructed realities regarding social, theoretical, political, spiritual, familial, and other factors influence the participants' leadership development and their leadership style or approach? How did the civil rights and women's rights movements influence Black women leaders' career choices and desire for advancement? How do these Black women leaders perceive challenges to their career advancement? How do they describe the pivotal successes of their careers? How do they perceive the future for Black women who aspire to leadership within two-year colleges in the Southeast?
In the moving and deeply personal stories of their lives, two Black women leaders shared concerns about the continued need for mentors to help Black women in developing fully their leadership potential; their commitment to enhancing and increasing diversity and awareness on their campuses; and their recognition of the dynamics of race and how race plays out in their lives, their professional roles, and in their perceptions of others and of themselves. The women also shared a commitment to 'pulling all of the strengths together' for successful team building; their belief in the importance of faith and spirituality in maintaining a balanced perspective on work and life; and the joy they both found in their leadership lives when they embraced the mantra that 'what's for you is for you,' so it's important to always 'put [yourself] in the way of a blessing.' This study underscores the importance of exploring Black women's perceptions of their individual and collective leadership experiences within scholarly discourse, and recommendations will be made for future studies based on the implications of the study's findings.
Keywords: Black or African-American women administrators or leaders, two-year technical and community colleges, barriers, opportunities, career development and advancement, transformational leadership, postheroic leadership, servant leadership, critical race theory, Black feminist theory, narrative inquiry or narrative research



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