Amy Lethbridge, Ph.D., is a 2016 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University

L-R: Dr. Laurien Alexandre, Committee Chair, Dr. Aqeel Tirmizi, Committee Member, Dr. Amy Lethbridge , Dr. Jon Wergin, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Aqeel Tirmizi, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Cem Basman, Ph.D., Committee Member


Indigenous communities, native people, cultural tourism, ecotourism, Panama, case study, interviews, capacity building, communities, economic development, cultural revitalization, Embera Drua, Chagres River, Chagres National Park, Chocó, leadership

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This case study examines the experience of residents of the Indigenous village of Embera Drua, Panama with 20 years of tourism. It addresses the lack of Indigenous voices in tourism literature by telling the story of Embera Drua through the lens of the villagers themselves. The study uses a mix of ethnographic observation and narrative inquiry and finds that the experience of Embera Drua mirrors the experience of other Indigenous villages offering tourism around the globe, particularly the impact of lack of community capacity on management and growth of such tourism initiatives. Findings of this study are relevant to the international discourse on tourism as a development tool. This dissertation is available in open-access at OhioLink ETD Center, and AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive,


Dr. Amy Lethbridge

ORCID Scholar ID: 0000-0002-4326-0190

Dr. Amy Lethbridge is an adjunct professor at Antioch University, Los Angeles and serves as Deputy Executive Officer of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), a regional open space agency in Los Angeles County where she manages outdoor education, public interpretive programs and environmental education programs for local schools. She also serves as the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Community Nature Connection, dedicated to equity in the outdoors. Her work in heritage interpretation, interpretive program development and tour guide training has taken her across the United States and around the world. She is an advocate for community storytelling and culturally relevant interpretation which connects cultural and natural history of a place with meaningful visitor experience. Her key area of interest is community capacity building for tourism development in small, rural and/or indigenous communities. Lethbridge’s doctoral research took place in the indigenous community of Embera Drua in Panama.

Dr. Lethbridge, Embera Drua village, Panama