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Date of Award

Spring 5-24-2018

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Christopher Knaus

Second Advisor

Rachelle Rogers-Ard

Third Advisor

Wayne Au


As the nation’s racial and ethnic diversity continues to grow, so does the number of students of color within the college system, particularly within the community and technical college systems. While the student body grows more diverse, African American women are not invited into circles of power and executive leadership positions continue to be filled by White leaders. This racial disparity perpetuates an educational system that is neither open nor inclusive. To better understand the persistent underrepresentation of African American women in community college leadership settings, a racially conscious framework was chosen to be applied in the exploration of how higher education institutions impact African American women. A blended Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought (BFT) framework was used to examine how systems of oppression serve to disempower and disadvantage these women. The usage of this blended framework allows for the consideration of multiple roles and identities that other theories may not address. This study centered the experiences of four African American women in executive leadership positions in Pacific Northwest community college settings by fostering counterstories that highlight the fight for equality and justice while providing insight and hope to African American women that seek upward mobility within the community college system. Key themes include the devastating impact of being the only African American woman in leadership, systemic inequities, and the urgent need for mentorship and sponsorship.