Leah Michelle Burton, Ph.D. is a 2021 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Leah Michelle Burton at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Aqeel Tirmizi, Committee Member, Dr. Jon Wergin, Committee Chair, Dr. Chris Benner, Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Aqeel Tirmizi, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Chris Benner, Ph.D., Committee Member


emancipatory action research, capitalism, general systems theory, Paolo Freire, ethics

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The purpose of this study is to better understand how to influence capitalist attitudes and drive more capital towards social good. This is why we must explore the prospect of emancipating the capitalists from capitalism. This study identifies capitalism as a form of oppression that is contributing to a newly developed ethics of capital, a term introduced in this study. Emancipatory action research and general systems theory were employed as the primary approaches to engaging a group of venture capitalists and finance professionals in activities and dialogues. Value2 is the theory of action I use to influence the attitudes of the participants in the study. I developed the Emancipatory Action Map as a tool for capturing the epistemological process catalyzed by Value2. The findings identified common themes and contrasts, such as how participants rationalized their problem-solving, how they responded to the isomorphism between systems operating within capitalism, and how they experienced their own agency in relationship to the problem of driving more capital towards social good. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Leah Michelle Burton

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0001-6813-6383

Michelle Burton serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Community Health Councils & Director of the Social Change Institute, a social enterprise of CHC, that incubates and accelerates strategies for a more just and equitable society. As the Director, she has co-designed Leading for Equity, a more equitable and dignified model for advancing impactful capacity building with communities and organizations. Michelle is an LA native and studied at Los Angeles City College, has a BA in Pan African Studies from CSULA an MBA, with a concentration in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University and recently earned her PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Her research focuses on influencing capitalist attitudes to drive more capital towards social good through emancipatory educational practices that catalyze critical thinking and consciousness.