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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration

First Advisor

Venus Evans-Winters


The shortage of African American leadership in business, science, law, medicine or just in public school districts can be directly linked to several factors, including a shortage of African American teachers who will enter the leadership pipeline in both urban and suburban settings. This study uses a narrative approach to explore the experiences of five (5) of the few Black women who have become superintendents in public school districts in the United States. The purpose of this study is to discern these leaders’ shared traits and to examine their formative circumstances to determine any experiences common to their upbringing. The information this study produces will be viewed through a Black feminist lens to attempt to explain how the experiences these leaders had allowed them to pursue attain and maintain the superintendencies.

Five Black women superintendents were interviewed and surveyed. These superintendents were chosen from both urban and suburban school districts in the Midwestern United States. Questionnaires were given to gather data concerning how they attained their superintendency and their experiences as superintendents. Qualitative data were collected both through in-person and telephone interviews. The data were analyzed to discover the barriers these women of color encountered during the process of becoming superintendent and the strategies they use to function as superintendents effectively. Five major themes emerged during this study. They are: the participants’ upbringing; motivation for becoming a superintendent; mentoring through official and unofficial mentorship; spirituality; and the intersection of race and gender.

The women were found to be resilient. They exhibited the strength necessary to conquer racial and gender barriers that had been in place throughout history. They refused to be content with achieving less than their goal of the superintendency because they were driven by their passion for attaining only the best for the children, which included caring through other mothering.


Imported from ProQuest Cox_ilstu_0092E_10877.pdf


Page Count


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