Publication Date

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Action research project: Open access

Degree Name

MA Higher Education Leadership


Leadership Studies


This study seeks to understand how women of Panhellenic sororities at the University of San Diego (USD) define and perform their meaning of leadership to create positive change in their organizations. My overarching research question was: How can I assist the members of Panhellenic sororities at USD to take up their authority as leaders to influence positive change in their chapter? This research reflects my experiences with Panhellenic sorority women at USD and intentional stakeholders throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. This study was influenced by Ira Chaleff's work on courageous followership, Baxter Magolda’s theory of self-authorship, and David Cooperrider, Diana Whitney, and Jacqueline M. Stavros tenants of appreciative inquiry. A multilayer approach was taken by hosting focus groups, as well as surveying and interviewing multiple stakeholders connected to the Panhellenic sororities at USD including sorority leaders, chapter members, chapter advisors, and inter/national headquarter staff members. The findings reveal actions and strategies for all stakeholders to including campus-based fraternity and sorority life advisors on how to intentionally support the leadership development of Panhellenic sorority women to create positive and sustainable organizational change. Ultimately, by allowing Panhellenic sorority women to make meaning of their influence, as well as claiming their own authority of their membership experience and chapter culture, they are able to create positive change.