Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Charol Shakeshaft

Second Advisor

Dr. David Naff

Third Advisor

Dr. Danielle Apugo

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Risha Berry


The literature on Black women leaders, where it exists, focuses on the barriers to Black women becoming leaders or being fully empowered when in leadership positions. However, to understand the leadership identity of Black women, and perhaps help to explain the absence of Black women in formal leadership spaces, means to examine the influence of race, gender, and culture on leadership behavior, as well as the setting in which leadership exists. This qualitative grounded theory study explored the leadership skills and practices of 15 senior-level cross sector Black women leaders. The data was collected in two phases: 1) a leadership questionnaire and 2) two focus groups analyzed using a constructive approach to the analysis. Relatedly, there is little researched or written on how Black women’s leadership practice is developed within systems of whiteness that create conditions for survival and protection. The study findings suggest that this impacts how Black women describe their practice as a result of their racialized, gendered and cultural experiences. A grounded framework of the interrelatedness of their identities, leadership experience informs Black women’s employment of strategic skills and practices.


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