Cultivating Resilience for District Women Administrators of Color as Equity Leaders in Predominantly White Districts

Lizzette Ruiz-Giovinazzi, Fordham University


Systemic racism, racial stereotypes, and bias affect how Black and Latinx Women Leaders of Color (WLOC) survive in predominantly White school districts. This dissertation of practice examines the experiences of equity WLOC in New York State, grounded in Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training. Using an Improvement Science approach, three drivers were identified: 1) supporting WLOC in racial identity development, 2) responding to racism, and 3) clarifying the role of equity WLOC. Two change ideas were implemented: 1) leadership development training and 2) an affinity group. The theory of change was: When equity WLOC in PWD have opportunities to share their stories, reflect on their adversity, and listen to others reflect, they will develop critical consciousness about racism which will increase their resilience against the harms caused by racism and microaggression in their work environments. This mixed methods study used surveys and semi-structured interviews; there were four findings. First, there was tremendous value for equity WLOC in being part of a supportive group of peer WLOC. Second, having a network of peers provides safe space to navigate the role of equity WLOC. Third, these groups foster showing up as one’s authentic self. Fourth, there is power in acknowledging the existence of White structures in leadership, systemic and institutional racism, and power held by the dominant culture. When these leaders saw themselves through their own lens, not that of dominant White culture, they could acknowledge their strengths and own their power. These equity WLOC could see, feel, and stand in their own brilliance.

Subject Area

Education|Womens studies|Latin American Studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Ruiz-Giovinazzi, Lizzette, "Cultivating Resilience for District Women Administrators of Color as Equity Leaders in Predominantly White Districts" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30491132.