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Perceptions of an African American woman chief executive officer in a community college setting

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  • Community colleges are in a strategic position to meet the growing demands for educating a population that is in a dynamic state of change, a population that is becoming more diverse with each passing year. A diverse population and other critical issues have created a new challenge for community colleges. These challenges require extraordinary educational leaders. Leaders of the 21st century must be change agents with a moral purpose and commitment to educating the citizenry. This exploratory study contributes to our understanding of motivating and constraining factors that influenced a Black woman leader in academia. By examining the historical antecedents of slavery, racism, and sexism through the lenses of the lived experiences of an African American woman chief executive officer in a community college setting, aspiring young Black women will gain insight into factors that may enhance their ability to achieve the CEO status. Black feminist thought and critical social theory offered a framework for interpreting the perceptions of this phenomenal Black woman. The researcher employed the art of listening and the in-depth interview for data collection. These tools allowed the informant to use her own voice to tell her story. Relationships, the value of education, construction of a positive self-identity, leadership, and the ability to adapt to adversity/resiliency were the five major themes that emerged through thoughtful analysis. This woman embodies moral leadership, a leadership model that includes the ethics of caring and personal accountability. The findings illuminate a model of leadership for the 21st century.
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