Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Shane P. Martin

Second Advisor

Ernesto Colin

Third Advisor

Drew Furedi


The job of an education system-level leader in urban environments is becoming more demanding, and the environment in which they operate more complex. Filling these very critical roles with individuals who possess the right characteristics could mean the difference between success and failure at improving the educational outcomes of students who are more often than not students of color and economically disadvantaged students.

Through seven interviews, this qualitative study focused on understanding the leadership dispositions that contributed to the success of transformative urban education system-level leaders in Los Angeles. The new transformative urban education leadership framework was developed using elements from each of the following existing frameworks: leadership for multicultural education, transformative leadership, and leadership for social justice. Findings from the data revealed four themes and two subthemes that described the characteristics that these transformative education leaders in urban Los Angeles had in common. The four themes were early experiences that impacted future trajectory, power of positive communication, forming deep relationships with the community, collaborative decision-making and teambuilder; the subthemes were communicating beliefs and vision, communicating hope, and communicating courage. These themes and subthemes suggest some positive alignment to the new transformative urban education leadership framework.

Los Angeles education organizations could develop their own pipeline of top-level leaders who are prepared to assume positions when the opportunities present themselves, elevate the role of community-based organizations (and community), and be more targeted in their recruitment and professional development strategies for existing transformative leaders.