Graylyn Swilley-Woods, Ph.D. is a 2019 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Swilley-Woods at her Dissertation Defense.

L-R: Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Committee Member, Dr. Jon Wergin, Committee Chair, Dr. Philomena Essed, Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Jon Wergin, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Philomena Essed, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Ph.D., Committee Member


African-American Communities, Community-based Tourism, Heritage Tourism, Activist Scholarship, Glocalization, Globalization, Miami, Overtown, Coconut Grove, Tourism

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The purpose of this study was to examine significant elements and aspects of community heritage tourism development activities using a scholar activist approach in two African American communities located in Miami-Dade Florida. Community heritage tourism was investigated to understand its relevance and to assess multiple factors that may influence its direction in relationship to economic sustainability, leadership, and change. This collaborative research included community involvement with key relevant stakeholders. The aim of the study was to achieve better knowledge of heritage tourism and understanding of growth and/or hindrance to the community’s capacity to change and economically sustain itself. The study explored vignettes of both exogenous and endogenous tourism-related initiatives, comparing examples with varying levels of community engagement. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive,, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Graylyn Swilley-Woods, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0001-7061-0021

Dr. Graylyn Swilley-Woods is the Chief Executive Officer of the Overtown Children and Youth Coalitions and a Senior Consultant for Multicultural Tourism Initiatives. She is the recent past Associate Vice President of Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau Multicultural Tourism Department, Business and Education Division and a contributing founder. Mrs. Woods spent more than a decade promoting the development and advancement of Multicultural Tourism in Greater Miami and Beaches.

Having expended more than 25 years in higher education and community enterprising, to developing programs ranging from youth services, cultural and heritage tourism, to economic initiatives, business, entrepreneurial and capital development projects. Dr. Swilley-Woods truly lives and works in her passion. Much of her efforts are centered on building sustainable communities through the power of collective engagement while working to advance equity within and through philanthropy, public and private partnerships. Dr. Swilley-Woods has successfully garnered funding ranging from 10k to more than 30mil in partnership with local, state and national investors. Her extensive training and background in community development, urban and rural studies has guided and grounded her in advancing community initiatives as a sustainable economic goal. She is a thought leader and regardless of the multiple roles and positions she holds, her goal is always simple -- to empower communities, organizations and thought leaders to differentiate themselves and drive measurable outcomes using innovation and new ways of creating social change.

Dr. Swilley-Woods combined her professional work with her dissertation research on heritage community tourism opportunities and challenges in urban communities. As a Scholar Activist she is committed to social justice locally and globally. In addition to completing the PH.D Graylyn received a Master of Arts degree from Ohio State University, Master of Arts in Leadership and Social Change, Antioch University and completed course work toward a Master of Science Degree in Rural Sociology, Ohio State University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in the college of Liberal Arts with a focus on Africana Studies and Political Science. Her experience in higher education and community development has brought fresh ideas to the greater Miami region and sure to positively effect and touch lives wherever she goes. Graylyn is married and is the mother of two sons.