G. Funmilayo Tyson-Devoe, Ph.D. is a 2024 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

G. Funmilayo Tyson-Devoe at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Sharon Holmes, Committee Member, Dr. Philomena Essed, Committee Member, Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, Committee Member, Dr. Lemuel Watson, Committee Chair.

Dissertation Committee

  • Lemuel Watson, EdD, Committee Chair
  • Elizabeth Holloway, PhD, Committee Member
  • Philomena Essed, PhD, Committee Member
  • Sharon Holmes, PhD, Committee Member


Black women teachers, Black feminist thought, critical race theory, leadership, neoliberalism, working conditions, life history, narrative inquiry, education leadership

Document Type


Publication Date



This study explored Black women’s lived experiences as teachers in urban schools during the era of 21st-century education reform. It centers around the relationships between Black women teachers (micro), their working conditions in low-performing urban schools (mesa), and neoliberal education policies (macro) that affect their work. The theoretical frames were Black feminist thought and critical race theory. The research questions were as follows: first, what are the working experiences of Black women teachers of tested subjects in low-performing urban public schools and, second, how do socio-political factors affect their working conditions? The research design was qualitative and included narrative inquiry and life history. Key findings were leadership, teacher autonomy, camaraderie, and collaboration, and student behavior. The Black women of this study want better leadership, autonomy, a pathway that does not lead to principalship but out of the classroom, self-care, and wellness. The implication for social change is educational leadership that uses adaptive leadership and social justice leadership that requires leaders to have emotional intelligence, social-political awareness, and activism. Educational leadership must stop taking its cues from big corporations, politicians, and businesspeople. The practice of standardized testing as ruler of all things public education must cease because it negates the human experience. The implication for practice is to honor the experiences and voices of Black women teachers, retain current Black women teachers, and recruit new Black women teachers otherwise Black women teachers are on the verge of extinction. Innovation in public education must include new ways for students, teachers, and leaders to thrive in an ever-changing world. Future research needs to include more qualitative data from Black women teachers’ working conditions and experiences through the lenses of critical race theory and Black feminist thought. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


G. Funmilayo Tyson-Devoe

ORCID: #0000-0003-2930-1547

G. Funmilayo Tyson-Devoe, an educator with two decades of experience, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas, a Master of Arts in Education with a focus on Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix, and another Master of Arts in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She also received a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch. Her dissertation title is "Her Voice Matters: Life Histories of Black Women Teachers’ Working Conditions."

As a Black Queer Woman, Dr. Tyson-Devoe empathizes with the challenges of being authentic in spaces that lack understanding and acceptance. Throughout her careers, she has faced discrimination, isolation, and targeting. These experiences have fortified her voice and commitment to advocacy, particularly for young people and Black women.

Dr. Tyson-Devoe is the creator, host, and producer of Urban Teacher’s Lounge podcast. This Black teacher initiative is unapologetically designed for and by Black teachers, aiming to bridge the gap between educational scholarship and classroom practitioners.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Funmi, as she is also known, is a mother, wife, and part of the Big-Blended-Family (BBF). In addition to her educational and advocacy work, she is a multi-instrumentalist who enjoys gardening and bicycling.