Voices of leadership : experiences of people of color in a community leadership development program Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/qz20sw405

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  • The purpose of this study was to describe and record the experiences of people of color in a community leadership development program. Selected people of color were asked to describe their experiences as participants in the American Leadership program in Tacoma-Pierce County in the State of Washington. The American Leadership Forum (ALF) is a national leadership development program that is dedicated to joining and strengthening established leaders in order to serve the public good. ALF has 13 chapters throughout the United States, one of which is in Tacoma-Pierce County. Ten graduates of the year-long program were participants in the study, all of whom resided, at the time of the study, in that local community. The participants shared stories of their common experiences. These stories were compared to reveal the similarities and differences among them. While their personal backgrounds, familiarity with leadership theory, and careers revealed considerable differences, common themes emerged from the interview data. The research identified the following themes of their perceptions of the ALF participation: networking, relationships, community commitment, leadership development, personal transformation, family, connectedness over time, diversity, and community impact. The emergent themes reflect the positive perceptions of the participants' experiences, as well as their disappointments and concerns. They also represent the attitudes and opinions that were most deeply impacted by the ALF experience, as evidenced by their stories. The findings suggest community leadership development programs have the ability to: 1) Enhance professional networks and encourage relationship building 2) Empower leaders by developing their leadership capacity 3) Develop the image of a positive, centered self as a significant part of effective leadership. The findings also suggest considerations for the planning of leadership development programs that include: 1) Time for reflection and sharing 2) Relationship building among the participants of color 3) Balancing competing needs for time (i.e., work, involvement in the community, and meeting family obligations) 4) A mentor component 5) A learning environment that acknowledges and draws upon the diverse wealth of knowledge and experiences brought by the participants 6) Time for meaningful dialogue on ethnic and racial diversity. Recommendations for further research on leadership development and ethnic and racial leadership are included. They include intensive studies in leadership development, leadership development programs, and promoting and sustaining diverse communities.
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