Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Making Sense of Her Journey: Exploring African American Female Executives' Leadership Experiences Within Nonprofit Organizations
by Williams, Alicia D., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2021, 215; 28150598
Abstract (Summary)

Making Sense of Her Journey: Exploring African American Female Executives’ Leadership Experiences within Nonprofit Organizations

African American females have a desire to lead and some have even reached the executive leadership table. However, as there remains a significant absence of African American female executives at the nonprofit leadership table, by investing in this group of resilient and determined women, nonprofit organizations are better positioned to meet the critical needs of their communities, encourage diversity in decision-making and strategically tap into the leadership experiences of a group of women who are often being served by this industry.

This study explored how African American female executives made sense of their leadership experiences within the nonprofit industry in the United States. Through exploring the lived experiences as narratives shared by African American female executives within the nonprofit industry, this study offered insight into the complexities of their levels of oppression and discrimination and how these uniquely positioned women made sense of their leadership journeys within their organizational settings. Specifically, this study sought to make a valuable contribution to Black Feminist Thought/Theory (BFT) in the nonprofit industry in particular, as a majority of the literature has been focused on academic settings.

The research sample included nine (9) African American females who are or were executive directors of a nonprofit organization based in the United States. The time period studied was bound by the years (1990 to 2020) to ensure the foundational research related to Black Feminist Thought/Theory (BFT) and current research were captured. This study utilized qualitative research methods through narrative inquiry analysis. Data have been collected from participant interviews, as transcribed from digital recordings. This study was based on four key assumptions; 1) Sensemaking as a process was central to the participants’ unique lived experiences, 2) Oppression was a constant, ever-present and institutionalized obstacle under which the participants lived into their executive leadership experiences, 3) African American females often had interconnected experiences of multiple identities in society, and 4) African American sisterhood was an intentional relationship the women built or sought out to provide a supportive space as African American female executives within the nonprofit industry. This study showed how ultimately, who the women were could not be confined to only one identity, as their realities consistently supported them living out their experiences through the intersection of their multiple systems of oppressions connected to the interwoven nature of their race, gender, and for some class.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Khilji, Shaista E
Commitee: Howard, Lionel C, Matthews, Candice D, Crowley, Kathleen, Parker, DeJuanna
School: The George Washington University
Department: Human & Organizational Learning
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Womens studies
Keywords: African American Female Executives, Black Feminist Thought/Theory, Intersectionality, Leadership, Sensemaking
Publication Number: 28150598
ISBN: 9798678184665
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