Dorothy Ann Milligan is a 2012 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University


biographical inquiry, narrative inquiry, homeless mothers, marginalized populations, women, mothers, adaptive leadership, parents, parent leadership, homelessness, social stigma, marginalized, self-efficacy, advocacy, biography, qualitative research

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Presents a qualitative study examining the general conditions that lead to single mother homelessness and the impact of being homeless on their ability to parent effectively, based on interviews with mothers who are clients of First Place, a Seattle, Washington, social service agency. The purpose of the study is to identify different paths of life stabilizing strategies and parenting of women who have been in touch with the same agency. The research attempts to determine how the mothers achieved stability amid daily stress through examination of how the stories reflect decisions, initiatives, and commitments that helped them reach a level of stability in their lives and those of their children. In this context, characteristics, traits, and/or themes that make them parent leaders, and how they advocate for their children's education, are explored. The nature of the research question fits the qualitative framework as it allows for the collection of stories to secure details of the experience of each individual. Specifically, biographical and narrative inquiry methods are used to seek the parent's first-person account of her story, or her self-construction, within a current social context. A narrative format with open-ended questions encourages the narrators to speak their story in their own words. The selection of a qualitative framework is based in large part on the fact that such methods are effective in encouraging marginalized voices traditionally silenced or distorted to be heard within a current social and historical context. The electronic version of this dissertation is available through the OhioLink ETD Center at