The purpose of this qualitative study was to develop a comprehensive understanding of Latina/o leadership in community colleges through in-depth interviews of current community college executive administrators. The portraits of the subjects offer a blueprint to Latina/os who have similar career aspirations; and more succinctly, provide insight into how Latina/o California community college executive administrators might mentor aspiring Latina/o community college leaders. The guiding questions in the study inquired the experiences of Latina/o community college executive administrators, how they contributed to their understanding of leadership, and the perceptions placed on them as leaders. The questions also explored the obstacles that Latina/o executive administrators faced in their rise to executive administrative positions and how they overcame these challenges. This study utilized a qualitative approach and portraiture in methodology. The researcher conducted interviews with eight executive administrators. The interviews included 20 questions, with follow-up queries for clarification. Eight themes emerged from the portraitures and their responses to the interview questions. These themes included mentoring, employment, experiences, professional relations, family, ethnicity, Board of Trustees, and professional development. Four conclusions about Latina/os in executive administrative positions resulted from the data collected and presented in the study. First, the experiences, culture, and traditions of family lives provided the foundation and tools for success in academia. The second conclusion was that leaders followed diverse pathways in their career trajectories. The third conclusion was that mentoring is highly valued and deemed essential to career advancement in general. Finally, the fourth conclusion found that Latina/o leaders in the California Community College system experience ethnic bias in their advancement to executive administrative positions and this bias exists specifically more for female leaders. The recommendations of the study highlight that mentoring, professional development, professional leadership organizations, and sound collegial relationships are keys to producing effective community college leaders in the 21st century.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Leadership, administration, and policy; Hispanic American college administrators -- California; Community colleges -- California -- Administration; Hispanic American leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Purrington, Linda;