Katherine Penn Lampley, Ph.D. is a 2023 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Katie Lampley committee

Katherine Penn Lampley at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Lize Booysen, Committee Chair, Dr. Harriet Schwartz, Committee Member, Dr. J. Goosby Smith, Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Lize Booysen, DBL, Committee Chair
  • Harriet Schwartz, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • J. Goosby Smith, Ph.D., Committee Member


professional staff, higher education, critical incident technique, workplace inclusion, belonging, authenticity, uniqueness, leadership

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Professional staff make up the majority of employees at colleges and universities in the United States but are rarely the focus of research in higher education. As a result, little is known about how these employees experience the workplace, creating a challenge for educational institutions working to attract, develop, and retain this essential resource. Employees who feel included in the workplace have higher performance levels and are more likely to remain with their organizations, but workplace inclusion is a complex and undertheorized psychological phenomenon. This exploratory study provides insight into the psychological experience of inclusion by examining the experiences, interactions, and moments that caused professional staff to feel included at work. Using constructivist critical incident technique (CIT), semi structured interviews were conducted with 23 participants to uncover 78 inclusion incidents and the context surrounding those incidents at various levels within the organization. The findings reveal two main pathways to inclusion for professional staff in higher education: the affirmation and impact pathways. Inclusion incidents in the affirmation pathway emerged from experiences or interactions where an individual, team, or organization affirmed the professional staff member’s personal or professional identity. Inclusion incidents in the impact pathway emerged when professional staff members took some action that impacted an individual or the organization. An intersectional view of the results demonstrates that all participants, irrespective of social identity, experience inclusion in the workplace, expanding the perception of who benefits from inclusive environments. Analysis of the detailed descriptions of the outcomes of these incidents supports the expansion of the dominant conceptualization of workplace inclusion to include authenticity in addition to belongingness and uniqueness. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA,, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Katie Lampley headshot

Katherine Penn Lampley

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0001-5878-1004

Katie Penn Lampley, Ph.D., is an organizational development and diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioner with 25+ years of experience in various industries, most notably Higher Education and Financial Services. As the VP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Bentley University, Katie leads institution-wide strategic efforts to advance the University’s commitment to inclusive excellence. Her portfolio includes the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Office of Equal Opportunity & Institutional Equity. Katie collaborates with campus leaders to identify and implement strategic initiatives, build capacity through professional development, and ensure accountability and compliance efforts for professional and administrative staff, faculty, and students.

Katie’s passion for organizational change and diversity work stems from learning to navigate the many dualities in her life. Raised in the US Virgin Islands, Katie embraces her Caribbean and American cultural heritage. She also identifies as bi-racial with white Irish and black Afro-Caribbean ancestry. The experience of resisting the labels and binaries used to categorize others has informed her approach to developing inclusive learning environments and cultures in her professional life.

Katie holds an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Economics and Finance from Bentley University. Her research interests include inclusive workplace culture and the creation of brave spaces in higher education.