Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Wise


The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze the leadership experiences of woman presidents of nonprofit agencies who are perceived as successful. Recognizing that participants' descriptions of their leadership experience are both similar and different, those similarities and differences are explored and analyzed. Commitment to the organization's mission, communicating a vision into action, fostering collaboration, and an adaptable leadership approach all contributed to the success of these female board presidents. A case study design was used to obtain an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of women leaders on nonprofit boards of directors. In-depth interviewing, observations with field notes, member checking, and written materials were utilized as data collection techniques. The selection of eight current and former board presidents for this study involved purposeful, criterion-based sampling. The researcher selected subjects based on their knowledge and experience with the phenomenon under investigation. An interesting finding from the study was that participants shared the same motivation and commitment to nonprofit work, as well as similar leadership qualities despite their differences in socioeconomic background, ethnicity, race, and age. The data also revealed these women place a high value on the social element of nonprofit work. Research supports that women overall are more likely to attach importance to helping others then men who place more significance on status and prestige. This finding based on the literature review and data analysis, suggests further research should include a comparative study of leadership qualities of men and women nonprofit board presidents to determine if there is a consistent leadership model.Nonprofits need to recognize that future leaders are out there waiting to be trained and among them are women who have transferable skills along with a passion and commitment to an organization. Those nonprofit agencies who understand the value of training and board development will be cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.


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Is Part Of

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Date of Submission

June 2008

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