Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Hans Peter Schmitz, PhD, Chair Marcus Lam, PhD, Member Laura J. Deitrick, PhD, Member


Talent management, Nonprofit management, HRM, Nonprofit human resource management


This dissertation explored the leadership and staff perceptions of talent management (TM) in the San Diego-based community health center La Maestra. The organization initiated a scheme called Grassroots Talent Development (GTD) that focuses on developing its internal talents from the ground up, including using mentorship, on-the-job training, problem-solving techniques, and mission attachment reinforcement. The distinctive use of a holistic wellness model, Circle of Care (CoC), stemming from its core mission to serve underserved populations, has not only driven how the organization functions but also how it attracts, develops, and retains a diverse pool of talents. La Maestra innovated programs for talent recruitment and retention, such as the cultural liaisons (CLs) model, the externship program, and the function-specific structured career path of medical assistants (MAs).

This qualitative study utilized pattern identification to better understand perspectives of both La Maestra leadership and talented employees. Findings revealed commonalities of mindsets amongst almost all talented employees. Such similarities include the mission alignment, shared values, and supportive culture that foster cultural diversity to facilitate CoC deployment. Following the Attraction-Selection-Attrition (ASA) and person-organization (P-O) fit frameworks, GTD practices play an essential role to enhance the fit between La Maestra and its staff. Since La Maestra emphasizes cultural competence and ethnic diversity in its employees serving different communities, GTD practices serve to establish common goals and practices. Developmental techniques are the central socialization mechanism creating alignment of values. Findings also indicated low turnover, and high similarity amongst La Maestra’s employees, which may not only be reflective of GTD practices, but also the intrinsic motivation of employees.

The dissertation research suggests a number of strategic recommendations focused on three critical aspects: process, innovation, and people. The organization should consider implementing a more comprehensive succession plan and diversify the talent pool through external talent acquisition. New knowledge creation and transfer emerged as an important strategic priority, which should play an important role complementing GTD practices. Future studies should explore further the role of those not identified as talents and the dynamics of co-existence in work settings.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies