Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Johanna S. Hunsaker, PhD; Daniel M. Miller, PhD; Antoinette Cepe Thomas, PhD


age & aging, elderly, female leaders, Leadership studies, narrative analysis, servant leadership, women


Current social paradigms, based on established theory about the aged, consider old age as a time of drastic decline and deterioration and view the aged as nonproductive takers of society's resources. Far from using the wisdom and resources of the aged population, our society marginalizes old adults and treats them as obsolete. This study looks into the lives of nine women over the age of 65 who have found within themselves the strength, courage and determination to overcome the stereotypes of aging in order to become leaders in their old age. Life stories were obtained through personal interviews. Data from the interviews is presented in both narrative analysis, presented as individual chronological narratives, and analysis of narrative, a cross-case analysis, from which the following themes were derived: (1) the importance of education and life-long learning, values that served as foundations for much of their life experiences, opening avenues and opportunities to achieve, develop and display leadership; (2) a history of personal and professional achievement based on the skills, talents and characteristics that served as a template for their leadership in old age; (3) strong support systems to back them in their endeavors and from which to draw emotional strength; (4) a lifetime history of giving support to others, a characteristic that often opened the door for them to their present leadership pursuits; (5) strong positive attitudes, willingness to try new ventures and a persistence to overcome obstacles; (6) definite opinions about the importance of remaining productive and active in old age.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access