Juantisa Highes, Ph.D. is a 2024 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Juantisa Hughes at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Diane Allerdyce, Committee Member, Dr. Stewart Burns, Committee Chair, Dr. Nadine Wheat, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Stewart Burns, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Diane Allerdyce, PhD, Committee Member
  • Nadine Wheat, PhD, Committee Member


African American women, law enforcement, leadership, bias, barriers, discrimination, diversity, Georgia, women police officers, performance, angry black women, race, gender

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Law enforcement is a male-dominated field that has been slow to accept and promote African American women to positions of authority. As of 2016, there were only 3.1% Lieutenants and Sergeants, along with 1.6% Captains or higher that were African American women in the United States (Gomez, 2016). More recently, there has not been much change, as women are reportedly only 12% of the sworn officers and 3% of law enforcement leadership in the United States (Tumulty, 2023). Of that number, only 1% of African American women hold the position of Lieutenant or higher (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF], 2023). There are subtle barriers that women and minorities experience that keep them from moving up in the management hierarchy of law enforcement. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of African American women law enforcement supervisors related to the barriers encountered during their career, especially with promotion, and vital skills necessary for job performance. The study assessed advances, impacts on performance, peer intimidation, sexual harassment, discrimination, and other barriers that African American women face while pursuing top-level positions in law enforcement. The study included interviewing eight African American women law enforcement officers in Georgia, active duty and retired, that have held the positions of Commissioner, Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, Detective, Sergeant, and or Corporal. The following five themes emerged as a representation of their perceptions: (a) “Obstacles”: Operation Stumbling Blocks, (b) “Sabotage”: Monkey Wrench in the Works, (c) “Jealousy”: The Green-Eyed Monster, (d) “Overlooked”: Privy Passover, and (e) “Combative/ Overly Aggressive”: Angry Black Woman Syndrome. This study also has implications for lawmakers, departmental leads, and all level agencies of law enforcement to eliminate barriers, increase diversity, and practice equality for the advancement for African American women. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


Juantisa Hughes

ORCID: #0009-0003-8460-2235

Juantisa Hughes is the Founder of Hughes Alliance, a conglomerate corporation that houses her Certified Life Coaching Services. As a Life Balance Strategist, she helps Christian women in executive leadership achieve success, fulfillment, and joy outside of their career. “Take Your Marriage Back Restoration Bootcamp” & “Take Your Body Back Online Fitness” are two of her signature programs that women have used to spiritually heal and physically transform. As a licensed and ordained Minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, her purpose-driven assignment to reach the masses through the word of God moved her to widen her reach by becoming a published author. In 2020 Juantisa released her first self-help book, “I Think I Made A Mistake: How To Restore Your Marriage (Even If You’re on the Brink of Divorce).” She is a wife, mother of two sons, hair salon owner, and adjunct professor with a penchant for strengthening relationships and empowering other leaders to fulfill their purpose.

She spent more than 15 years as a Criminal Investigator and has been recognized for her work in serving the indigent. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Albany State University, a Master of Business Administration from Saint Leo University, and Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Her education and experience in the criminal justice field, along with her entrepreneurial achievements, prompted her research interests in the underrepresentation, stigmatization, disparity of treatment, and discrimination of African American women in leadership. In her pursuit to continue serving God’s people through faith-based leadership, advocacy, and truth-telling, she will produce and host a new audio-visual podcast in the Fall of 2024 that is designed to offer a sense of community, healing, and spiritual growth.