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Shandell Maxwell, Ph.D. is a 2021 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Shandell Maxwell at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, Committee Chair, Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts, Committee Member, Dr. Margaret Moodian, Committee Member, Dr. Carol Baron, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Carol Baron, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Laura Morgan Roberts, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Margaret Moodian, Ed.D., Committee Member


Black, Church, Civil Rights Movement, Coach, Culture, Inclusive Leader, Leadership Progressive, Racism, Racial and Social Matters, Religiosity, Religious Racial Socialization, Social Justice

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This case study explored and developed the religious racial socialization (RRS) approach of a Black Baptist pastor in Orange County, California. The aim was to assess how the pastor’s direct messages about race influenced and transformed members’ racial and social views and actions and examined the message alignment between what the pastor said and what church members and the leadership team heard. This study took a multimethod exploratory approach, examining multiple sources of data gathered from a Likert scale members’ survey, leadership team interviews, and archival materials. To support triangulation of the data, a word query and emergent thematic analysis was conducted on all qualitative data and a descriptive analysis based on closed-ended questions from the member survey. Results indicated that members perceived the pastor as a Coach when talking about racial and social justice matters and an Inclusive Leader because of his encouragement to love everyone. Additionally, archival findings revealed the church culture as Righteous because of the pastor and members’ desire for morality and justice. Moreover, findings suggest that a Pastor who coaches and educates on racial matters, and advocates for justice in and outside of the church, is progressive and effective in transforming how members respond to racism and social injustice. The study provides examples on how to approach and manage racial discussions in the church, how to create an inclusive environment where diverse groups feel safe to talk about race, and how to prepare for and manage cultural change. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Shandell Maxwell

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0002-1007-5239

Shandell Maxwell is a multitalented professional and community activist from Southern California. Shandell uses her experience and knowledge in people development, education, business, change management, activism, and artistic expression to inspire positive change in any environment she enters.

As an artist and social activist, Shandell has produced film-work and given talks expressing the importance of sharing personal stories to bridge communities and build empathy. In Orange County, Shandell is most known for her film Black Behind the Orange Curtain launched in 2013. This short documentary highlighted the Black experience in Orange County, in addition to the need for story sharing between diverse groups. The film has been used to facilitate talks at various universities in Los Angeles and Orange County and featured in publications like the OC Weekly, Voice of OC, and made the Orange County Register front-page story in February 2014. The film has over 6k views and is available on YouTube

It was Shandell’s community work that led her to pursue a doctorate in leadership and change. Her goal was to explore the role of Black Pastors' in supporting the Black community and race relations in Orange County.

Shandell’s mentor in community activism through storytelling is civil rights activist Joseph Jackson Jr., leader of the Tougaloo Nine (1961) who was mentored by Medgar Evers. Shandell's mission is to help people, communities, and organizations thrive by recognizing the true value of diversity, equity, and inclusion.