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

Dr. Brittany Motley at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Jon Wergin, Committee Chair, Dr. Richard McGuigan, Committee Member, Dr. Laurien Alexandre, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Richard McGuigan, Ph.D., Committee Member


higher education, equity, leadership, change management, meaning making, immunity to change, student success

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Closing equity gaps in the higher education sector is a long-standing issue. This issue has become exacerbated with the impact of COVID-19 and racial injustices happening across America. Now more than ever it has become imperative to use participatory action research to understand how leaders make meaning of their student success landscape and use that meaning to influence their strategic action for equity. I engaged two student success stakeholders from one university as co-researchers to help identify a problem in practice as it relates to equity gaps in student success. We used a modified approach to immunity to change (ITC) coaching coupled with an action inquiry framework to assist student success stakeholders with processing and reflecting on this problem to enact change. Co-researchers identified groups of stakeholders, referred to as “ITC participants,” based on their problem in practice to complete modified ITC mapping. I then used the findings from the modified ITC mapping to ask co-researchers to develop a plan of action to sustain momentum around resolving the Problem in Practice. This qualitative research project revealed three key findings: (a) understanding problems that relate to equity requires disaggregating data; (b) staff who are on the ground are key in understanding student success and creating a student-centered culture; and (c) leaders’ beliefs are translated into actions and demonstrated in structures and policies created. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Brittany Motley

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0002-8831-9301

Dr. Brittany Motley is a Director and Principal Consultant at the Education Advisory Board (EAB) in Washington, DC. In this capacity, she works with regional partnerships to execute best practices to close equity gaps within regions. She helps cultivate regional partnerships between higher education institutions to optimize their student success efforts to close equity gaps.

Nothing excites Dr. Motley’s passion more than finding innovative ways to create access and remove barriers for underserved students. She has spent her career working in the higher education sector cultivating her expertise in holistic student support, change management in higher ed, and advancing equity and creating inclusive cultures.

In addition to earning her bachelor’s degree in Pure Mathematics and two master’s degrees in business and Computer Science from Kentucky State University, Dr. Motley serves as a widely traveled action researcher working with many institutions across the US to help institutions attain their student success outcomes. Dr. Motley is committed to her research agenda of understanding how leaders make meaning of their student success landscape to enact appropriate strategies to transform the higher education sector.