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GSLC Dissertations : New and Featured

Katherine Penn Lampley, Ph.D.  [C 17]  2023

Experiencing Workplace Inclusion: Critical Incidents that Create a Sense of Inclusion for Professional Staff in Higher Education



Katie Lampley headshot


From the abstract: 

"Professional staff make up the majority of employees at colleges and universities in the United States but are rarely the focus of research in higher education. As a result, little is known about how these employees experience the workplace, creating a challenge for educational institutions working to attract, develop, and retain this essential resource. Employees who feel included in the workplace have higher performance levels and are more likely to remain with their organizations, but workplace inclusion is a complex and undertheorized psychological phenomenon. This exploratory study provides insight into the psychological experience of inclusion by examining the experiences, interactions, and moments that caused professional staff to feel included at work. Using constructivist critical incident technique (CIT), semi structured interviews were conducted with 23 participants to uncover 78 inclusion incidents and the context surrounding those incidents at various levels within the organization. The findings reveal two main pathways to inclusion for professional staff in higher education: the affirmation and impact pathways. Inclusion incidents in the affirmation pathway emerged from experiences or interactions where an individual, team, or organization affirmed the professional staff member’s personal or professional identity. Inclusion incidents in the impact pathway emerged when professional staff members took some action that impacted an individual or the organization. An intersectional view of the results demonstrates that all participants, irrespective of social identity, experience inclusion in the workplace, expanding the perception of who benefits from inclusive environments. Analysis of the detailed descriptions of the outcomes of these incidents supports the expansion of the dominant conceptualization of workplace inclusion to include authenticity in addition to belongingness and uniqueness."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Katie Penn Lampley, Ph.D., is an organizational development and diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioner with 25+ years of experience in various industries, most notably Higher Education and Financial Services. As the VP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Bentley University, Katie leads institution-wide strategic efforts to advance the University’s commitment to inclusive excellence. Her portfolio includes the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Office of Equal Opportunity & Institutional Equity. Katie collaborates with campus leaders to identify and implement strategic initiatives, build capacity through professional development, and ensure accountability and compliance efforts for professional and administrative staff, faculty, and students.outreach.

Katie’s passion for organizational change and diversity work stems from learning to navigate the many dualities in her life. Raised in the US Virgin Islands, Katie embraces her Caribbean and American cultural heritage. She also identifies as bi-racial with white Irish and black Afro-Caribbean ancestry. The experience of resisting the labels and binaries used to categorize others has informed her approach to developing inclusive learning environments and cultures in her professional life.  

Katie holds an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Economics and Finance from Bentley University. Her research interests include inclusive workplace culture and the creation of brave spaces in higher education.

Read more about Dr. Katie Lampley and download this dissertation at

Christopher T. James, Ph.D.  [C 19]  2023

Narrative-Driven Educational Practice: Guiding Principles for Academic Success of Black and Latinx Male Collegians




From the abstract: 

"On the heels of America grappling with various racial and ethnic inequities, this dissertation explored the experiences of Black and Latinx males who graduated with bachelor’s degrees from 4-year institutions. Participants navigated through different environments, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs], Hispanic Serving Institutions [HSI], and Predominately White Institutions [PWIs]. The study inquired about topics concerning their unique experiences and how they informed their collegiate academic success. Narrative Inquiry was the basis for 20 qualitative interviews (10 Black and 10 Latinx; interviewed for 60–90 minutes). Participants identified as U.S. citizens and graduated with a cumulative grade point average [GPA] of 3.0 and above. Reflexive Thematic Analysis [RTA] was performed to analyze the data. RTA is a distinguishing element of this study as it integrates the researcher’s positionality, qualitative findings, and feedback from code reviewers (Braun & Clarke, 2021). This study constructed five main themes for Black and Latinx male collegians', ranging from Salient Identities to identifying Catalysts for Academic Success. Key findings of the study unearthed factors contributing to academic success that included factors such as: parental involvement, academic rigor, mentorship, and creating and engaging in spaces of fellowship and belonging. Findings also revealed cultural distinctions between groups are vital to understanding the appropriate academic resources. These distinctions between groups were factors such as: parental citizenship, cultural group sub-cultures (e.g., traditions, food, dance), and language and vernacular. Participants’ salient identities (identities that they are closely associated with—for example, being a scholar or community leader) were at the center of their high achievement. The dissertation concludes with guiding principles meant to assist educators in producing and implementing culturally responsive approaches to support Black and Latinx collegians academically."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Dr. Christopher James is currently leading his leadership and performance coaching business which inspires and guides individuals to achieve success. He leverages his prior professional experiences at postsecondary institutions to instruct those how to fully embrace their educational experiences by maintaining high GPAs and taking advantage of internships, study abroad, and extracurricular activities. His passion focuses on aiding minoritized populations in realizing their potential and executing their purpose. Dr. James holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from East Stroudsburg University and a master’s degree from New York University in Applied Psychology and Antioch University in Leadership and Change. He constantly pursues personal and professional development through books, conferences, and podcasts. As a first-generation college student, he has been shown support throughout his doctoral journey by those closest to him. Dr. James is excited to take on the next chapter of his life by growing the number of lives he impacts through his business and community outreach.

Read more about Dr. Chris James and download this dissertation at

Lisa Marie Gick, Ph.D.  [C 12]  2023

Theoretical Modeling for Curious Leadership and Instrument Development and Validation for Measuring Curious Leader Capacity



Lisa Gick profile photo


From the abstract: 

"When curious, we admit we do not know. With the contemporary workplace emerging through increased complexity, leaders are compelled to shift mindsets and practices from more traditional methods to those more in service to the uncertainty of the day. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to generate an integrated theoretical framework for curious leadership, a validated scale for its measurement, and practical methods for engaging differently in the context and practice of leading. Drawing from the literature review of relational leadership, adaptive leadership, complexity leadership, growth mindsets, and curious behavior, and from my practice, 12 sub-constructs were identified as possible scale components of curious leader behavior. A mixed-methods approach was taken with three differently composed focus groups who reviewed the 12 sub-constructs and honed them to four based on their intersections in Phase 1 of the study. In Phase 2, a survey was thereby developed identifying 66 items for further subsequent appraisal. A finalized survey was undertaken with 274 respondents. From principal and confirmatory factor analysis, four sub-scales were eventually identified: Encourage Emergence, Enable Openness, Engage Experiments, and Honor Humanness resulting in the development of the Gick Curious Leader Capacity Scale. The scale's application and future implications for research and practice are discussed."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

After 25 years at Macy’s Inc., most recently as Vice President of Employee Engagement for the enterprise, Dr. Lisa Gick is currently Assistant Professor of Management and Leadership at Mount St. Joseph University, and Director of the University’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program. She is a certified Leadership Coach through Georgetown University, with a PCC designation through the International Coaching Federation.  Lisa is also owner of [curious]® leadership + change agency, a researched-based, creative agency deepening organizational commitment to work culture and leader impact. Her research is focused on the notion of emergence as it relates to leader capacity, strategy, and organizational development in the modern world.

Lisa presents regularly on leadership and the organizational experience globally and is a collaborative researcher and co-author of a chapter on leader identity development in the book Theorizing Women in Leadership:  Insights and Contributions from Multiple Perspectives and a chapter on leading in the liminal space in Adaptive Leadership in a Global Economy: Perspectives for Application and Scholarship. 

Lisa holds a Master of Science degree from Miami University in College Student Personnel Services, and both a Master’s degree and PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change.  Her dissertation research involved a 2-phase, mixed methods study exploring the curious capacity of leaders and instrument validation for its measurement.  More information about Lisa and her consulting practice can be found at

Dr. Lisa Gick’s LinkedIn:

Read more about Dr. Lisa Marie Gick and download this dissertation at

Paula C. Lowe, Ph.D.  [C 15]  2023

Mind Wandering in Daily Life: A National Experience Sampling Study of Intentional and Unintentional Mind Wandering Episodes Reported by Working Adults Ages 25 – 50




From the abstract: 

"Numerous researchers have investigated thinking that drifts away from what the individual was doing, thinking that is known as mind wandering. Their inquiries were often conducted in university lab settings with student participants. To learn about mind wandering in the daily life of working adults, this experience sampling study investigated intentional and unintentional mind wandering episodes as reported by working adults, ages 25–50, living across the United States. In this age frame, work and family responsibilities have increased in complexity and overlap. Using a smartphone app, participants were randomly notified to answer experience sampling surveys six times a day for up to five days. Eight questions concerned frequency, intentionality, and the descriptive characteristics of thought type, thought content, temporality, context, context demand, and emotion. Based upon 7,947 notification responses and 4,294 reported mind wandering episodes, the research findings showed that mind wandering is a common thinking experience in working adult daily life and is differentiated by intentionality, parent status, and gender. Parents reported more frequent mind wandering and intentional mind wandering episodes than nonparents. Episode thought type was most often indicated as practical thought. Episodes were more often reported as having the content related to context although out of context mind wandering episodes were also highly reported. Context demand and emotion at the time of the notification were related to mind wandering episode frequency and were further differentiated by intentionality, parent status, and gender. Working parents reported mind wandering episodes during higher demand, particularly male parents, than nonparents. By generating new knowledge about the thinking life of working adults, this study’s results and methodology contribute to the fields of leadership and change, thought research, intrapersonal and interpersonal psychology, work and family studies, and education. Future studies focused on underlying factors related to the mind wandering of working adults and the differences between parent and nonparent mind wandering may inform our understanding of working adult mind wandering."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Dr. Paula C. Lowe experiences mind wandering to be a vital part of her creative work in educational psychology and leadership and change as well as her story telling as an artist and poet. Truth be told, she mind wanders often. When stuck on solutions that don’t fit, she lets thoughts pop up. When in the early stages of writing, she intentionally begins with a blank page and maybe there comes a character wearing a red backpack. She remembers doing this in grade school, looking out the window to the corn fields, watching a farmer start up his tractor. Across decades as a professional in educational psychology, she has found schools, workplaces, even families have held discouraging biases about off-task thinking, even considering those who mind wander as evidencing attention deficit. Lowe conducted her research to inform this bias, studying this thought process and learning about its importance to individuals as well as leaders. Her inquiry confirmed that mind wandering is a common type of thinking working adults do and connects us to people, ideas, and events in places and temporality beyond the moment we are in. As said aptly by J. R. R. Tolkien, “not all those who wander are lost.” Lowe believes we cannot teach or learn or work or lead without recognizing and incorporating the realities of off-task thought that she found occurred one out of every two times when a participant was randomly asked, “are you mind wandering right now.” Her findings support that mind wandering is a valuable and co-existent thought process that cannot be extracted from an individual’s daily life.

Dr. Lowe has been helping others for many years. She consulted, developed learning programs, and conducted research for various constituencies, i.e., Head Start, military, at-risk, working families, urban and rural schools, corporations, universities, and more. Her book on parents helping parents, CarePooling, reached a national audience and served army communities stationed in Europe. Lowe’s educational programs include Parenting For Education, Choicercises, HomeWorks, Here’s Looking At You Two. She has trained thousands of people in multi-day settings, directed educational curricula evaluations, served as a family therapist, and taught art to every age, always with a passion for helping individuals appreciate themselves and their potential.

Lowe’s next book, Those Thoughts: Mind Wandering in Daily Life, aims to help others learn about their mind wandering. She continues to publish poems in an assortment of literary journals and anthologies including The Iowa Review, River Styx, Poet Lore, Crosswinds, burntdistrict and many more. Six of her poems have been selected as finalists for poetry awards. Her book MOO (2014) was a finalist for the 2015 International Book Award in poetry. Lowe’s contributions include serving as a small press publisher and on boards of directors such as the TEACH Foundation and San Luis Obispo County Library Foundation.

Earning her PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University, Yellow Springs, OH, Dr. Lowe also holds two master’s degrees, the first in Educational Psychology from the University of Washington and the second in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She attained her undergraduate degree in art education and art history at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. Lowe studied graduate poetry at the University of Iowa and completed the story development credential at the University of Washington.

Read more about Dr. Paula C. Lowe and download this dissertation at

Jane Feinberg, Ph.D.  [C 14]  2023

Being and Becoming Across Difference: A Grounded Theory Study of Exemplary White Teachers in Racially Diverse Classrooms




From the abstract: 

"Of the roughly 3.5 million public school teachers in the United States, approximately 80% are White. In contrast, about 51.7% of the nation’s students are African American, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian. This mismatch is expected to grow as the number of BIPOC students in our nation’s public schools continues to increase. Studies have shown that strong positive relationships are essential for learning, but often, the relationships between White teachers and BIPOC students are strained at best, leading to poorer learning outcomes. The purpose of this Constructivist Grounded Theory study was to explore an understudied question: How do White teachers who have been deemed exemplary by educators and parents of Color perceive their relationships and experiences with BIPOC students in an educational system and a society that often marginalizes them? Open-ended interviews were conducted with 19 middle and high school teachers in Massachusetts. Dimensional analysis revealed Being-and-Becoming Across Difference as the core dimension. Five primary dimensions were identified: Reflecting, Relating, Embodying Humility, Affirming Culture, and Holding Hope. Results of this study suggest that significant changes are needed in the recruitment and hiring of White teachers and that pre-service and in-service professional development must support White teachers in far more robust and sustaining ways than currently exist."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Jane Feinberg is the Founder and Executive Director of Power of Place Learning Communities (PoP). For much of her career, she has supported mission-driven organizations in developing their communications, engagement, learning, and leadership capacities as a foundation for driving meaningful and sustained social change. 

Feinberg began her career as a journalist and documentary producer. She developed, wrote, and produced for award-winning public television programs and series, such as “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” “The American Experience,” “Frontline,” “Long Ago & Far Away,” and PBS specials on Amelia Earhart and the Honorable Thomas P. O’Neil, Jr. She was also a writer/producer for the popular ABC-affiliate nightly newsmagazine “Chronicle," where she often covered social issues. Feinberg directed a two-year statewide media campaign for the ABC affiliate in partnership with the United Way of Massachusetts. The campaign, which won the coveted Service to America Award, elevated the importance of after-school programs to youth development and thriving communities. 

In addition to her previous media work, Feinberg served as the Director of Communications and Press Secretary for the Boston Public Schools. She also served as Senior Associate for FrameWorks Institute in Washington, D.C., where she helped translate social science research about how Americans think about key social issues into messaging for senior leaders engaged in policy and program change. Feinberg was a strategist to school districts in northern New England that received funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to embed student-centered philosophies and practices. She also served as Regional Partnership Lead for Reimagine Learning, a project of New Profit that focused on better supporting marginalized and minoritized students. This work led to the creation of the Essex County Learning Community (ECLC), which launched in 2018 with generous funding from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. ECLC is the flagship program of Power of Place Learning Communities.

Feinberg is a Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Minnesota, holds masters degrees from Boston University and Antioch University, and a PhD from Antioch University. Her research focuses on the relational dimensions of teaching and learning, with a particular emphasis on white teachers and students of color.

Read more about Dr. Jane S. Feinberg and download this dissertation at

Angela Wellman, Ph.D.  [C 16]  2023

Exploring Supervisory Needs of First-Generation Professionals Working in Higher Education




From the abstract: 

"As first-generation students enter the workforce and traverse through their careers, their work supervisors are solidly positioned to positively influence their experiences. There is very little literature to be found that addresses the professional experiences of first-generation professionals in relation to their supervisors. The purpose of this exploratory study was to learn, directly from first-generation professionals working in higher education, what they believe they need from their supervisors to support their well-being and success. This research also sought to discover how important participants thought that each need statement was, as well to gain insight to what extent the identified needs are being met. This study utilized a web-based concept mapping methodology that employed both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. The findings of this study indicate that first-generation professionals have identified six need areas that supervisors can address to support their well-being and success. These are (a) Professional Growth and Development; (b) Institutional Onboarding; (c) Guidance and Understanding; (d) Communication and Feedback; (e) Humanity; and (f) Cultural Intelligence. This study contributes to the field of practice in higher education because it has empowered first-generation professionals to identify their unique needs specific to supervision. Equally important, garnering this information from first-generation professionals better informs supervisors on what this population needs, and offers suggestions on how these needs can be met."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Angie Wellman is the Director of Belonging and Education for Student Life at The Ohio State University. In this role, she serves as a thought-partner with department colleagues on staff-focused belonging, inclusion and equity-minded initiatives, working to ensure that inclusion and equity are imbedded in our collective work.  Angie facilitates community building and educational opportunities scaffolded to continuously develop team members’ capacity to effectively relate, work and lead across identity, cultures, and experiences. Additionally, she supports Student Life managers and supervisors in advancing a culture in which students and staff feel valued, included, and affirmed as integral parts of the university.

A licensed professional clinical counselor, Angie is also a lecturer in the College of Social Work and College of Education & Human Ecology at The Ohio State University. Before her work at Ohio State, Angie held the position of Executive Director at Kaleidoscope Youth Center. Prior to this, she led programming efforts at other non-profit organizations including Stonewall Columbus, Oriana House and an Akron-area YMCA.

Angie is a proud first-generation college graduate who earned her bachelor's degree from Kent State University, a Master of Science degree from the University of Dayton and a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. An experienced scholar-practitioner, Angie’s ongoing research interests are in the cultivation of individual self-efficacy, institutional access, and organizational development.

Read more about Dr. Angela R. Wellman and download this dissertation at

Sarah R. Villarreal, Ph.D.  [C 14]  2023

A Narrative Inquiry of Latinx Undergraduates' Participation in High-Impact Educational Practices




From the abstract: 

"There are systematic barriers to educational equity in the U.S. higher education system, and the system overwhelmingly fails Latinx undergraduates more often than other students. It is crucial that evidence-based methods be used to reduce the existing postsecondary student success inequities. Scholars have linked specific educational practices to positive learning effects. A growing body of evidence has suggested these educational practices, coined high-impact practices (HIPs), provide amplified benefits to historically underserved students (HUS) and may be an effective tool for advancing equity and closing achievement gaps. The extant literature has neither adequately explained the reason(s) that HIPs provide an academic boost to HUS nor described their lived experience. Such qualitative research is important for understanding how HIPs contribute to HUS’ learning and engagement, better support student success, and address inequities. Through narrative inquiry and inductive/emergent analysis, this study explored the lived experience of Latinx in HIPs at a 4-year public university. Deductive/a priori analysis drew from two theoretical frameworks: validation theory and cultural capital. This study investigated several guiding questions: In which curricular experiences do Latinx undergraduates experience the deepest learning and engagement? To what elements or aspects of the experiences do Latinx undergraduates attribute the learning and engagement? What are the key validating experiences or experiences that recognize/reward cultural capital? Findings revealed five major course elements as associated with deep learning and engagement: professor behaviors or traits, real-world and relevant content, preparation for future or career, relationships with peers, and diverse perspectives. A key implication for practice is that faculty are central to student success and through the application of teaching and curricular elements, every academic course can ensure deep learning and engagement for HUS. Faculty/individual, institutional, and policy level changes and efforts can rapidly scale HUS’ access to courses that result in positive educational outcomes including retention and graduation."

From the AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive Page

Sarah is the daughter of postsecondary educators and herself has been a public higher education professional since 2001. She currently serves as Chief of Staff at California State University San Marcos, overseeing the Office of the President. In this role, Sarah provides strategic support and leadership for high-priority campus projects and initiatives and serves as the liaison to a variety of internal and external constituencies. Prior to Chief of Staff, Sarah held various positions at Cal State San Marcos including Associate Vice President for Community Engagement and Associate Dean of Extended Learning. Sarah began her higher education career at the University of California, Riverside.

Sarah’s research interests as a scholar practitioner include Latinx and first-generation student success and reducing equity gaps for historically underserved students. Sarah is the proud partner of a changemaker and K-12 leader, Dr. José Manuel Villarreal, and the proud mother of two amazing and caring children, Nathan and Noah Villarreal. Sarah holds a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University, an M.B.A. from the University of Redlands, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Read more about Dr. Sarah R. Villarreal and download this dissertation at