Stefanie L. Watson, Ph.D. is a 2021 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Stefanie L. Watson at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts, Committee Chair, Dr. Oscar Holmes, IV, Committee Member, Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Laura Morgan Roberts, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Oscar Holmes, IV, Ph.D., Committee Member


Black leaders, Black masculinity, authentic leaders, narrative inquiry

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Publication Date



Weber (2001) defines race as “the grouping of people with certain ancestry and biological traits into categories for differential treatment” (p. 74). Yet, according to the American Anthropological Association (1998) and countless doctors, scientists, geneticists, and scholars, in theory, the term “race” does not scientifically correspond to biological and physiological distinctions and has no empirical basis. Despite the lack of biological basis, racial categories are powerful frameworks for defining self-concepts and structuring opportunities within American society. Within the framework of a racially stratified, White dominated society, individuals who self-identify as White (or are perceived by Whites to be White) receive privileges that are not equally attainable for non-Whites. Even in the 21st century, as in prior centuries, race continues to be used as one of the most instrumental signifiers of differences between people within the United States. Racial categorization has undergirded hierarchical structures powerful enough to determine a group’s access to fundamental human necessities (clean water, food, and safe living conditions), intellectual and economic resources, infrastructures, agricultural and commodity trade markets, and financial systems. Socially and politically, race continues to be an important variable in how individuals are categorized and treated in the United States. The proposed research aims to understand how African American male leaders experience and make sense of their race in the workplace. The knowledge and skills acquired from being an African American male leader in the United States includes navigating a multifaceted intersection of domains such as racial identity, masculinity, and leader development, which encompasses personal and professional lives. This research asserts that African American males’ understanding of race affects their professional relationships and leadership experience in the workplace. This study will explore how African American males’ perceptions of race influence their interactions and leader development at work, including barriers and bridges to communication, stereotype threat, and perceived prejudice and discrimination. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Stefanie L. Watson

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0001-7330-365X

Stefanie is the United States Census Bureau's Chief of Diversity & Inclusion. In this role, she focuses on leading the research, development and implementation of strategic approaches to lead diversity and inclusion efforts. She can see the bigger picture and is driven by her intellectual curiosity to find answers to the most pressing equity and inclusion challenges. Prior to joining the United States Department of Commerce, she served as the Director for the Office of Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration. Stefanie began her career in the federal government with the United States Department of Agriculture in 2008 as a federal career intern. She is a highly regarded civil rights, equity & inclusion practitioner. Stefanie’s education background includes a Ph.D. and M.A. degree in Leadership and Change from Antioch University, a M.A. degree in Conflict Resolution from Antioch McGregor University, and a B.A. degree in Spanish from the University of Kentucky. She’s a country girl at heart and enjoys cooking, reading, and travelling. She resides in the Washington D.C. area with her daughter Glory.