Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Laura Hallberg

First Committee Member

Delores McNair

Second Committee Member

Ines Ruiz-Huston

Third Committee Member

Marcia Hernandez


Empirical research studies that focus on the experiences of Latinas in executive leadership are limited. In its entirety, workforce research has overlooked how social and cultural experiences influence this group’s leadership development. This gap in research has failed to uplift the Latina executive voice and their achievements. Addressing this gap has the potential to influence distinctive workforce practices and future scholarship. Utilizing an asset-based perspective, this study presents counter narratives that intentionally focus on exploring Latina leaders’ voices. The importance of intersectional experience and social identities illustrate non-monolithic, yet aligned, experiences among study participants.

This foundational dissertation explored mentoring phenomena through a qualitative study with Latina, nonprofit, chief executive officers (CEO) in the State of California as protégés. The nonprofit racial leadership gap provided context for the high number of Latinas/os in California relative to the minimal number of Latinas holding executive positions. This context warranted a necessary exploration into how mentoring experiences positively influenced Latina leadership development (LLD) so that findings may be replicated for future practice. A hermeneutic phenomenological research design maintained participant engagement which explored two key research questions:

1. What are the salient characteristics of quality mentoring relationships for Latina nonprofit executive leaders in California

2. How have quality mentoring relationships influenced Latina leaders’ sense of self-efficacy and leadership development?

Data were collected via demographic questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and researcher field notes. Participants included 10 Latina CEOs of California nonprofit organizations. They represented all five regions of the state. Study findings demonstrated that:(a) mentoring relationship type evolved over time, b) a constellation of mentors were integral to leadership growth, c) mentors supported expressions of authenticity and LLD, d) mentor-protégé match suitability acted as a sphere of influence, and e) peer mentoring promoted a sense of openness and vulnerability. Findings revealed that quality mentoring relationships encouraged participant leadership development that positively impacted executive self-efficacy and retention. Recommendations are presented that further support Latina executive leaders’ development. Four recommendations are presented for formal and informal mentoring practices, and two proposals are offered for future mentoring research that extends the foundational work of this study.

Furthermore, a researcher journal was maintained throughout the duration of this study. The journal led to the development of a researcher self-reflexivity process model. This model illustrated how researcher positionality evolved from insider-to-outsider, yet sustained researcher-participant engagement from pre-data collection through data analysis that reconciled pre-suppositions, interpretations, and meaning-making. This study represents the richness found in stories that have been minimally included in empirical literature. It offers implications for the value of uplifting voices to enhance leadership practice and future research.





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