Crawford, Katia Latrice (2018-05). I Am, Therefore I Lead: Exploring the Intersection of Spirituality, Authenticity, and Leadership Identity in African American Women Leaders at a Predominantly White Institution. Doctoral Dissertation.
This study explored spirituality and its influence on the authenticity and leadership identity of African American collegiate women leaders at a large, public university in the Southwest. While there has been an increase in the study of spirituality in higher education specifically in college students, more needs to be done to understand African American female students as a subset population. This study shed light on the lived experiences of these participants to situate faculty and staff to better support students as they journey to be whole, authentic, leaders. It examines how eleven African American undergraduate women understand, experience, and express their spirituality. Results indicate that these students experienced and expressed their spirituality as the core of their very being and Christianity was central to their understanding and expression of their spirituality. Additionally, this study examines the role spirituality has on African American women leaders' authenticity. Results revealed that participants perceived spirituality as an influence on their self-cultivation, self-identity, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. Each of these themes impacted their perceived development of a more authentic self. Lastly, this study explores how African American undergraduate women perceive the role of their spirituality in the development of their leadership identity. Results illustrate that African American women leaders in this study perceive their spirituality to have played a significant role in the development of their leadership identity by helping them to understand and be confident in who they are, which in turn gave them confidence as leaders in college.