Heidi S. Hiatt, Ph.D. is a 2017 graduate fo the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Heidi Hiatt [left] with Committee Chair, Dr. Elizabeth Holloway [center] and Committee Member, Dr. Laurien Alexandre [right]

Dissertation Committee

  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D, Committee Chair
  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Mary Lee Nelson, Ph.D., Committee Membe


Al-Anon Family Groups, Twelve Step Program, sponsorship, boundaries, psychology, mentorship, leadership, narrative inquiry, self-help groups, alcoholism, family members, alcohol abuse, family members, support groups, mentors

Document Type


Publication Date



The purpose of this study is to gain knowledge about the relationship between sponsor and sponsee in Al-Anon Family Groups from the perspective of sponsors and sponsees in Al-Anon. The main question guiding my research is: What is the nature and quality of the sponsorship relationship as perceived by sponsors and sponsees? Nineteen men and women were interviewed and shared stories of their experience of being a sponsor and a sponsee in the Al-Anon program. I utilized a holistic-content approach to analyze the date from the interviews. To help situate the findings in current literature a discussion of sponsorship in Alcoholics Anonymous, therapy, mentoring, and other helping groups is provided. The findings suggest that there are similarities between Al-Anon sponsorship and mentoring in that both relationships progress through stages of development. The findings suggest that boundaries are an important aspect of Al-Anon that helps its members to healthily detach from other people. Al-Anon members are motivated to help based on the culture of helping found in the program as seen through its service structure and sponsorship. The leadership that Al-Anon sponsors provide finds connections with several leadership theories including, transformational, servant, relational, and authentic leadership. The electronic version of this dissertation is at AURA: Antioch University and Repository Archive, and Ohio Link ETD Center,


Heidi S. Hiatt, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #:

Heidi is an educator who has taught students from first grade through college level at home and abroad. An avid learner she enjoys sharing her love of learning with her students. Al-Anon Family Groups recently became an important part of her life. What she was learning in the Leadership and Change program at Antioch University tied in closely to what she was hearing in Al-Anon. Because of this, she knew she had to explore the connection and shed light on an important relationship that between sponsor and sponsee in Al-Anon. Heidi is always looking for new challenges and adventures. She has run a marathon, studied five different languages, raised alpacas, lived other countries, traveled solo across the United States, completed culinary school, and completed a Ph.D. She is looking forward to the next adventure!