Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jennifer Butcher

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Karmyn Downs

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Shawnte Elbert


Leaders in higher education experience high and unrealistic demands for their skills, time, and energy, causing stress, competing priorities, burnout, compromised health, and attrition. However, unlike other racial and gender groups, Black women higher education administrators experienced these challenges more intensely. As a result of chronic stress associated with being undervalued and overworked, discriminatory and unwelcoming workplaces, and intersectional biases, Black women leaders are leaving higher education workplaces. Despite the link between gendered racism and unwellness, little is known about the problem from a positive leadership perspective. This study addressed the lack of knowledge of the wellness strategies Black women administrators in higher education use to persist in leadership. Guided by Black feminist thought, the purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how Black women administrators describe their lived experiences and make meaning of their subjective well-being, resilience, and radical self-care while persisting in leadership at higher education institutions in the United States. Using the interpretive phenomenology framework, this qualitative research included semistructured interviews of 11 Black women in leadership positions at community colleges and universities while offering them the chance to create knowledge through their stories. Participants completed 60-minute semistructured recorded Zoom interviews. The data were thoroughly reviewed, employing pattern coding and thematic analysis to consolidate and organize key findings into themes per participant. The findings underscored the relevance of Black feminist thought in acknowledging Black women administrators’ unique experiences and how they navigate the complexities of their personal experiences, institutional dynamics, and coping mechanisms to shape their well-being in higher education. The study underscored the need for nuanced understandings of resilience and the importance of self-identification in self-determination, self-preservation, self-restoration, resistance against stereotypes, and intentional self-care practices. The findings call for higher education institutions to recognize and address the unique challenges faced by Black women leaders, foster supportive environments, and implement policies that prioritize their holistic well-being and success.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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