Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Kristin L. Dailey


African American women are presently underrepresented in mainstream nonprofit performing arts organizations (PAOs) throughout the United States. Despite this inequality, a small number of African American women have overcome the odds and have productively earned senior leadership roles as executive directors in mainstream nonprofit PAOs. Using the conceptual frameworks of intersectionality and critical race feminism, the purpose of this study was to explore the shared lived experiences of African American women in executive director positions and the impact of race and gender on their leadership development and training for advancement in a mainstream nonprofit PAO. Four research questions explored the nonprofit management and leadership experiences and perspectives of African American women as a result of the intersection of race and gender identity. A transcendental phenomenological method was applied as the qualitative research design. Semistructured interviews with 9 African American women working currently or previously as an executive director or senior leader in a mainstream nonprofit PAO provided data collection. Findings from this study affirmed that although African American women are challenged and impacted by intersectional identities, organizational solutions and strategies for advancement are available. The results of this research study may contribute to positive social change by increasing awareness of the experiences of African American women and the strategies outlined for improved executive leadership advancement. When cultural arts leaders get information, ignored potential can be realized.