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GSLC Dissertations : New and Featured

Hays Moulton, Ph.D.  [C 13]  2021

Novice Teachers' Sensemaking in an era of Accountability: Implications for school Leaders



From the abstract: 

"The purpose of this research study was to examine how novice teachers make sense of the realities of their chosen profession, given their initial motivations for entering the profession. My research into teacher motivation and retention provided evidence that teachers did enter the field for altruistic reasons and that as many as 50% of all new teachers in urban schools did not last beyond five years. When they begin teaching, they find a field that is heavily impacted by strict accountability standards and required mandated testing. I used Sensemaking Theory and Self-Determination Theory to examine how beginning teachers make sense of their chosen profession, how the principles of Self-Determination Theory interact with sensemaking to influence teachers’ decisions to stay or leave teaching, and whether teachers would indicate points of influence that school leaders had used to help them decide to keep teaching. I used narrative inquiry to interview 21 teachers who were in their 3rd to 6th year of teaching from public schools at different grade levels and specializations. My interviews suggest that teachers who decide early in their lives to become teachers were more likely to have trouble making sense of the urban school classroom compared to teachers who decided to become teachers as adults, especially after working in a different field. This suggests that school leaders should consider teachers’ motivation to enter teaching as they design professional development opportunities and assign teachers to teams.”

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Dr. Moulton started teaching in public schools as a way to effect change one person at a time. He has taught special needs children, middle schoolers, and served for ten years as a school building administrator. Since 2012 he has been on the faculty at Antioch University, first in the school administration and teacher licensure program, then in the Masters in Change Leadership and MBA programs, and currently as Chair of Undergraduate Studies for Antioch University Online. As a public school teacher and administrator he was exposed to “research” of all kinds, usually associated with an expensive textbook series or professional development being offered. He was assessed annually on the scores that his students received on standardized tests and tried to understand how to use that data to improve his own classroom and the schools he was a part of. Somehow the numbers never told the whole story of how his students were doing in school. As a faculty member at Antioch University for the last nine years, he has worked with teachers, administrators, and people from many other fields, coming to understand that his definition of “data” was far too narrow, and did not express the stories of his students’ lives. His passion now lies in trying to understand individual stories that tell about their experiences and how that can inform all of our lives, helping to celebrate the diversity of our existence.

Read more about Dr. Hays Moulton and download this dissertation at

Sara Frost, Ph.D.  [C 15]  2021

Optimism at Work: Measuring and Validating Scales to Measure Workplace Optimism



From the abstract: 

A growing body of research has shown the benefits of optimism on health, socioeconomic status, and at work. This two-phase mixed-method study revised and validated an instrument to measure an employee’s personal experience with optimism in their workplace. This study also developed two additional scales to measure the degree to which individuals engage in optimistic leadership skills, and an organization’s readiness to cultivate optimism. In Phase 1, 697 responses from an online survey were analyzed using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Regression analysis indicated that an employee’s personal experience of factors associated with optimism at work influenced their perception of their workplace’s readiness to cultivate optimism. Regression analysis also indicated that an individual’s personal tendency toward optimism influenced their personal experience with optimism at work. The study also validated the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey and the Life Orientation Test-Revised for this study’s sample. In Phase 2, the measures developed in Phase 1 were piloted with the 30-person office staff of a Midwestern paper manufacturing company to provide feedback on the accuracy of the scales. The findings help to advance research on optimism at work and support future studies to explore more deeply the impact of optimism at work."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Sara Frost is an eternal optimist who loves helping nonprofit organizations improve their operations and make life better for both their employees and the people they serve. She currently works as the Program Operations Manager for the Life is Good Playmakers, a nonprofit dedicated to helping childcare professionals build life-changing relationships for the kids in their care. Sara has spent her career working in education-based nonprofits and with social entrepreneurs. Working for mission driven social entrepreneurs is a key priority for Sara as she sees social entrepreneurs as a vehicle for addressing the wicked problems of the world. A recent graduate of the Doctoral program in leadership and Change at Antioch University, Sara holds an M.S. in Human Service Administration focusing on nonprofit management and fundraising from Louisiana State University Shreveport, and an ED.S. in Special Education from Bay Path University. Sara is a perpetual student who enjoys trying new hobbies, creating art, and spending time with her family in Hudson, MA. She hopes to leave the world a little better than she found it.

Read more about Dr. Sara Frost and download this dissertation at

Sara Safari

Sara Safari, Ph.D.  [C 16]  2021

Virtual Empowerment: The Exploration of Leadership Aspirations of Young Nepali Girls Using Virtual Participatory Action Research



From the abstract: 

Adolescent girls in developing countries, especially those from impoverished backgrounds, face many challenges, such as cultural preference for sons, child marriage, and gender-based violence and harassment, which limit their access, opportunities, and leadership skills. The purpose of this study was to create a virtual empowerment and leadership program for young women based on extant literature, as well as best practices empowerment programs from South East Asia and empirical data. The main goal of the study using Virtual Participatory Action Research (V-PAR) was to organically create a leadership development program where the participants are the developers of the program. The goal of this approach is not only to create a sense of ownership among the participants, but also to empower them with culturally compatible knowledge and skill-sets. The workshop’s objective was designed and conducted by, and for, female college students to empower themselves to take on leadership roles in their personal and professional lives. What separated this research from similar leadership workshops and women’s empowerment programs was using the emergent methodology V-PAR, which became essential due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited research has been conducted on marginalized communities virtually by collaboration with local facilitators from the same culture. Furthermore, using V-PAR methodology supported the creation of a virtual environment for young women who live in underprivileged areas in Nepal and who lack accessibility and facilities needed to gain knowledge and competencies. The workshop generated a dynamic, iterative, and interactive setting that fostered continuous learning, support, feedback, and mentoring between the participants, and served as an ongoing incubator for development of leadership skills."


From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Sara Safari is originally from Iran. She now lives in Irvine, California. She is an author, speaker, mountain climber, college professor, Electrical Engineer and advocate for women empowerment. She has received the award for The Global Citizen from United Nations Association in 2015. She is a board member and director of development in Empower Nepali Girls foundation. She also has received the award for Outstanding Practice with Broad Impact in the area of women and leadership from International Leadership Association in 2017. Sara is climbing the Seven Summits, the seven highest peaks in each continent, to raise funds for seven organizations who are empowering women. She published her books “Follow my Footsteps”,  “Above the Mountain Shadow” and “Making a Difference” to share her story with the world to inspire people to climb their own Everests. She is also working on a featured film and a documentary with a team of producers who have extensive experience working on complex social justice issues.

Read more about Dr. Sara Safari and download this dissertation at

Rachel Lucy

Rachel Lucy, Ph.D.  [Healthcare C 2]  2021

Amplifying Community Voice in Multi-Sector Health Collaboration: Case Study Exploring Meaningful Inclusion



From the abstract: 

There has been recognition in a consistent and long-term way that the most complex health issues of our time cannot be solved by one sector alone. Actions of funders and new policy spanning the last two decades have successfully attracted a diversity of sectors into planning circles. Many multi-sector collaborations (MSCs) aiming to improve community health have the desire to include the voices of those with lived experience in collaborative efforts, but they are challenged by conditions that are inevitably disengaging because of continued power imbalances, excessive bureaucratic process, and lack of action for change. A collaboration operating in the Gorge region of Oregon offers insight on how to rise above these challenges to inclusively engage those with lived experience. The Gorge has earned national notoriety as a result of improved community health indicators and the structure for collaboration and engagement make it a positive outlier. This exploratory case study asked the central question of what shapes inclusive engagement of participants with lived or living experience in MSCs working towards community health improvement. The study offers insight into (a) conditions that nurture a culture of collaboration and empowerment; (b) the role formal sector participants play in equitably sharing power; (c) how power viewed through an empowerment frame resonated most for those with lived experience; and (d) the ways collaborations can intentionally create meaningful inclusion through structure and informality. The study concludes with implications for future research and researcher reflections."


From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Dr. Rachel Lucy is the Northwest Director of Community Health for PeaceHealth, a non-profit healthcare system serving 10 communities in the Pacific Northwest. Her career has focused on advocating for the underserved, community wellness, and caregiver engagement. Rachel served as the previous Director of Learning and Development launching the PeaceHealth Leadership Institute and is an experienced planner and facilitator of large group learning forums and programs, including leadership summits. Rachel finds inspiration in partnering with leaders and teams who share a deep commitment to enhancing community health and wellbeing. Always fascinated by the power of collaboration, Rachel knows that to be successful, community health organizations must engender trustworthiness, be consistent, take action and speak the truth to one another, policy makers, and community leaders. She believes each of these is vital to success. She served two consecutive terms on the Whatcom County Public Health Advisory Board and was nominated for the 2017 Professional Woman of the year by Whatcom Women in Business. In 2017, Rachel was named one of the Tomorrow’s Leaders of the Catholic Health Ministry by the Catholic Health Association and was the PeaceHealth Spirit of Healing overall recipient in 2014. She holds a degree in Community Health from Western Washington University, a Master’s in Organizational Psychology from Antioch University Seattle and a Master’s in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Rachel also received her Mastering Professional Management certificate from the Institute of Generative Leadership. Rachel and her partner, Jason live in the Pacific Northwest and keep busy raising their two active daughters.

Read more about Dr. Rachel Lucy and download this dissertation at

Adoum K Ey Moussa

Adoum K Ey Moussa, Ph.D.  [C 13]  2021

The Challenge of Tribal Relations in Chad: Impacts on Socioeconomic Development



From the abstract: 

The multitude of different tribes in Africa is what makes the continent rich and diverse. At the same time, this diversity, when combined with self-centered and exclusive behaviors, can yield detrimental impact on the economy and society. This dissertation examined tribalism, defined as favoritism based on kinship, and its impacts on socioeconomic development on the Republic of Chad. Specially, this research investigated tribalism and its direct and indirect influence on corruption, human capital potential, social justice, and socioeconomic development in Chad. This mixed-methods study comprised a two-phase design. The first phase was mainly a quantitative survey that was administered to 161 participants, followed by a qualitative approach comprised of semi-structured interviews. Finally, an integrated analysis, synthesizing findings from the two phases, provided a comprehensive view on tribalism and its impact on socioeconomic development in Chad. Findings from this study demonstrated that while tangible progress has been made on many fronts in Chad, participants’ perception about tribalism, corruption, human capital potential, social justice, and socioeconomic development indicated that more work remains to be done. The study also highlighted the existence of multiple linkages among tribalism, corruption, human capital potential, social justice, and socioeconomic development. The findings further indicated that in addition to direct linkages with socioeconomic development, tribalism indirectly influenced development goals through corruption, human capital potential, and social justice. Finally, the results and insights informed the creation of an emergent model on tribalism and its impacts on socioeconomic development.”


Read more about Dr. Adoum K Ey Moussa and download this dissertation at

Maria A. Caban Alizondo

Maria A. Caban Alizondo, Ph.D.  [Healthcare C 1]  2021

Dialogic Identity Construction: The Influence of Latinx Women's Identities in their Health Information Management Practice



From the abstract: 

The purpose of this qualitative research was to study the experiences of Latinx women who lead in health information management in the United States. Latinx health information management professionals are faced with everchanging workplace dynamics and biases in which they are repeatedly reminded of their individual and ethnic differences that require them to construct and co-construct new facets to their identities in social contexts. By grounding this work in narrative inquiry and viewing identities critically, space is given for delving deeper into the specifics of how gender, ethnicity, culture, and class influenced Latinx women’s leadership practice. Interviews offered the opportunity for discussion about how the Latinx women in this study navigated various faultlines and engaged in internal dialogues that contributed to their ability to construct, co-construct, and refuse identities on offer in two social contexts, family and the workplace. A Model of Dialogic Identity Construction in Practice emerged as a result of the participants' stories. While this study shines a light on Latinx women, it also creates awareness and discussion for all ethnic minorities who are often underrepresented and overlooked in the workplace."


From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Dr. Maria Caban Alizondo is a practicing health information professional and is the Director of health information management at a large academic health system. Leading healthcare teams for over twenty-five years, she has served as President of the California Health Information Association, and as a Board Director for the national association, AHIMA. She holds a graduate degree in Organizational Leadership with a focus in Servant Leadership from Gonzaga University and is a Fellow of the American Health Information Management Association. Her professional practice is focused on strategic organization change and leadership development with minority women. Maria speaks and presents nationally and internationally to the health information, information technology, and healthcare services sectors about regulatory and operational impacts in healthcare with a focus on the importance of understanding the intersections of diversity that includes an appreciation of the value that ethnic minorities, and in particular Latinx women bring the workforce. Maria is a dedicated thoughtful–disruptor and change agent committed to advocacy and leader development in her work as a scholar–practitioner.

Read more about Dr. Maria A. Caban Alizondo and download this dissertation at

Betty Johnson

Betty J. Johnson, Ph.D.  [C 16]  2021

Video Meetings in a Pandemic Era: Emotional Exhaustion, Stressors, and Coping



From the abstract: 

In the first quarter of 2020, societal upheavals related to the COVID-19 pandemic included employers’ work-from-home mandates and an almost overnight adoption of video meetings to replace in-person meetings no longer possible due to contagion fears and social distancing requirements. This exploratory study aimed to address, in part, the scientific knowledge gap about video meetings as a source of emotional labor. The study used mixed methods to explore three hypotheses concerning how the contemporary use of video meetings related to emotional exhaustion, stressors, and coping. Findings based on a series of linear regression analyses and qualitative data thematic analysis showed video meeting hours and surface acting significantly related to a higher level of emotional exhaustion. Extrovertism, nonwork video gatherings, and social support from another adult in the home were nonsignificant in their relationships with emotional exhaustion. Perceptions that video meetings were too many for participants to accomplish their overall job responsibilities were significantly related to a higher emotional exhaustion level. Perceptions that video meetings were useful to the participant significantly related to a lower emotional exhaustion level. Perceptions that family, household, and personal responsibilities competed for the energy participants needed to do their jobs successfully were also significantly related to a higher emotional exhaustion level. Qualitative data analysis also revealed emergent themes that suggest implications for practitioners and direction for future research.


From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Dr. Betty J. Johnson is a leadership and change consultant. At the heart of her work is the wellbeing principle that people thrive at work when they accomplish their goals while building positive relationships. Her 30 years’ experience includes all levels of an organization—senior executive, practice leader, frontline manager, trainer, and sales professional roles—and is enriched by her international consulting with business, government, and non-profit organizations. After receiving a B.A. in English from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. Johnson participated in a national security program at the U.S. Army War College where she discovered her professional purpose: to help leaders generate engagement, high performance, positive relationships, and meaning for themselves and others. Dr. Johnson’s firm, Bridging the Difference, LLC, applies scientific research-based practices, real-work practical lessons, and an empathetic process to help leaders recognize behavior-goal misalignments that create churn. She helps them develop their ability to get the results they want: deep-level diversity, equity, and inclusion; empathy as a performance enabler; participatory management and employee empowerment; high-performance teams; change and resilience, and; problem resolution. Dr. Johnson’s doctorate from Antioch University concentrates on Leadership and Change. Her doctoral research illuminates significant relationships between video meetings, stressors, coping resources, and cognitive coping in the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Through this research, she provides straightforward, results-based recommendations for researchers and practitioners..

Read more about Dr. Betty Johnson and download this dissertation at

Brittany Motley

Brittany Motley, Ph.D.  [C 16]  2021

Higher Education's Immunity to Change: Understanding How Leaders Make Meaning of Their Student Success Landscape



From the abstract: 

Closing equity gaps in the higher education sector is a long-standing issue. This issue has become exacerbated with the impact of COVID-19 and racial injustices happening across America. Now more than ever it has become imperative to use participatory action research to understand how leaders make meaning of their student success landscape and use that meaning to influence their strategic action for equity. I engaged two student success stakeholders from one university as co-researchers to help identify a problem in practice as it relates to equity gaps in student success. We used a modified approach to immunity to change (ITC) coaching coupled with an action inquiry framework to assist student success stakeholders with processing and reflecting on this problem to enact change. Co-researchers identified groups of stakeholders, referred to as “ITC participants,” based on their problem in practice to complete modified ITC mapping. I then used the findings from the modified ITC mapping to ask co-researchers to develop a plan of action to sustain momentum around resolving the Problem in Practice. This qualitative research project revealed three key findings: (a) understanding problems that relate to equity requires disaggregating data; (b) staff who are on the ground are key in understanding student success and creating a student-centered culture; and (c) leaders’ beliefs are translated into actions and demonstrated in structures and policies created.


From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Dr. Brittany Motley is a Director and Principal Consultant at the Education Advisory Board (EAB) in Washington, DC. In this capacity, she works with regional partnerships to execute best practices to close equity gaps within regions. She helps cultivate regional partnerships between higher education institutions to optimize their student success efforts to close equity gaps. Nothing excites Dr. Motley’s passion more than finding innovative ways to create access and remove barriers for underserved students. She has spent her career working in the higher education sector cultivating her expertise in holistic student support, change management in higher education, and advancing equity and creating inclusive cultures. In addition to earning her bachelor’s degree in Pure Mathematics and two master’s degrees in business and Computer Science from Kentucky State University, Dr. Motley serves as a widely traveled action researcher working with many institutions across the US to help institutions attain their student success outcomes. Dr. Motley is committed to her research agenda of understanding how leaders make meaning of their student success landscape to enact appropriate strategies to transform the higher education sector.

Read more about Dr. Brittany Motley and download this dissertation at

Shandell Maxwell

Shandell Maxwell, Ph.D.  [C 14]  2021

Religious Racial Socialization: The Approach of a Black Pastor at an Historic Black Baptist Church in Orange County, California



From the abstract: 

This case study explored and developed the religious racial socialization (RRS) approach of a Black Baptist pastor in Orange County, California. The aim was to assess how the pastor’s direct messages about race influenced and transformed members’ racial and social views and actions and examined the message alignment between what the pastor said and what church members and the leadership team heard. This study took a multimethod exploratory approach, examining multiple sources of data gathered from a Likert scale members’ survey, leadership team interviews, and archival materials. To support triangulation of the data, a word query and emergent thematic analysis was conducted on all qualitative data and a descriptive analysis based on closed-ended questions from the member survey. Results indicated that members perceived the pastor as a Coach when talking about racial and social justice matters and an Inclusive Leader because of his encouragement to love everyone. Additionally, archival findings revealed the church culture as Righteous because of the pastor and members’ desire for morality and justice. Moreover, findings suggest that a Pastor who coaches and educates on racial matters, and advocates for justice in and outside of the church, is progressive and effective in transforming how members respond to racism and social injustice. The study provides examples on how to approach and manage racial discussions in the church, how to create an inclusive environment where diverse groups feel safe to talk about race, and how to prepare for and manage cultural change.


From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Shandell Maxwell is a multitalented professional and community activist from Southern California. Shandell uses her experience and knowledge in people development, education, business, change management, activism, and artistic expression to inspire positive change in any environment she enters. As an artist and social activist, Shandell has produced film-work and given talks expressing the importance of sharing personal stories to bridge communities and build empathy. In Orange County, Shandell is most known for her film Black Behind the Orange Curtain launched in 2013. This short documentary highlighted the Black experience in Orange County, in addition to the need for story sharing between diverse groups. It was Shandell’s community work that led her to pursue a doctorate in leadership and change. Her goal was to explore the role of Black Pastors' in supporting the Black community and race relations in Orange County. ´╗┐Shandell’s mentor in community activism through storytelling is civil rights activist Joseph Jackson Jr., leader of the Tougaloo Nine (1961) who was mentored by Medgar Evers. Shandell's mission is to help people, communities, and organizations thrive by recognizing the true value of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Read more about Dr. Shandell Maxwell and download this dissertation at