Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Mary Woods Scherr, PhD, Director; William P. Foster, EdD; Wallace Cohen, PhD


Chief Executive Officers--CEOs, community colleges, cultural identity, Ethnography, families & family life, Golden West College (Huntington Beach, CA), gender, higher education, Huntington Beach (California), Latinas, Leadership studies, minority & ethnic groups, women


The purpose of this ethnographic research was to discover the influence of President Judith Valles' gender and ethnicity on her leadership behavior at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California, and to determine if similar influences existed among the other eight Hispanic women presidents of community colleges in the U.S. A composite profile of the nine presidents was developed. More than 100 interviews were conducted from a broad spectrum of participants, including seven of the nine Hispanic women presidents. The researcher became a participant observer at Golden West College for the fall of 1991. All the presidents were strongly influenced by their close family ties, their cultural identity, and their parents' emphasis on education. They developed their bicultural identity and bilingual ability early in life. All spoke unaccented English and Spanish. Their female gender and the Hispanic culture affected the behaviors of all the Hispanic women presidents who participated in this study. Because of a lifetime viewing the world through two sets of lenses, the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic, Judith Valles brought an openness to new ideas, to divergent viewpoints, and a sensitivity to others that facilitated her leadership. A strong connection between gender and Hispanic behaviors was discovered. Financial constraints, governmental policies, and the college history also had an impact on the context for leadership for these presidents. The leadership of most of the presidents resulted in increased collaborative decision making and a focus on developing a family or community on the campus, often through celebrations and ceremonies. They all emphasized reaching out to the broader community and involving it in the support of the college. The vision for a more inclusive community college that welcomed and valued the diverse student population characterized Judith Valles as well as all the Hispanic women presidents.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access