Sharon Wilson


The purpose of the study is to provide a leadership profile of selected African American (AA) women founders of private and charter high schools. To determine this profile, the research was designed to provide a defined exploration of the founders' leadership style, background, career, religious and ethical influences, entrepreneurship, community involvement, and their experiences with mentoring and helping traditions. This study also provides a demographic description of the schools they founded. This study details the untold story of a group of AA women who have affected the lives of many children. A literature review and adaptation of Yael Hellman's study on Jewish women executives were the sources of the research questions. Five qualified professionals in the field of education validated both instruments. A purposive sample of 10 AA women founders' was obtained by snowball sampling and all consented to participate voluntarily. Data were from two sources, a larger primary written survey, and a smaller personal interview. A profile of the African American woman founder of a secondary private and charter high school emerged. The family backgrounds includes: (a) raised in the southern U.S. (as are her parents), (b) born between 1940 and 1960 into a family of 6 siblings in which she was the middle child, (c) attended a public high school. These leaders have received a master's degree in education, carry the title CEO, and have been with her present company for 15 years. Research indicates this group of women leaders believes that her AA identity and her female gender affected her choice of career and career advancement. These founders influence to start a school derived from a family member or friend, and their discontent with the education children at the prior school at which they worked were receiving. They believe the best preparation for the position was in their work as a teacher. Of significance is the finding these founders of private and charter high schools have high religious commitment (attend church more than once a week and is actively involved in church activities), and the church influence began as a child.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; African American women; Private schools; Charter schools -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

McManus, John F.;