Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Jay Brand

Second Advisor

Mordekai Ongo

Third Advisor

Bordes Henry-Saturné



The marginalization of Black and other racialized bodies (people of colour) has led to the position of a leader becoming so synonymous with Whiteness that it is normalized and naturalized; and worse, there has been limited analysis about why this is so. There is even less analysis of the experiences of the few people of colour who occupy leadership roles in organizations (Berkshire, 2008; Bradshaw et al., 2009; Mills et al., 2010; Nkomo, 2011; Ospina & Foldy, 2009). Astonishingly, organizations in diverse communities also have exiguous conversations about such salient issues like race and gender even though there is considerable evidence that it is White bodies that dominate organizational power structures (Block & Galabuzi, 2011; Johnson, 2012; Knight et al., 2003; Mills et al., 2010). As Hepburn (2015) states, "let's be blunt: Greater Toronto [Ontario, Canada] is one of most diverse-rich areas in the world, yet it sure isn't reflected in its leadership." --


This chapter provides a robust presentation of the research methodology employed in this study. It encompasses a subject recruitment and selection process and an effective analysis and presentation of the data. To investigate the experiences of Black male leaders in Toronto's non-profit sector, I have utilized the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) method, guided by Hycner's (1985) approach, and semi-structured interviews. Together, these approaches capture rich and relevant data. As Kvale (1996) argues, interviews are merely structured conversations with a purpose. IPA provides the best opportunity to analyze the lived experience of Black male leaders and gain insightful knowledge.


The research findings suggest that the men interviewed have experienced various challenges in leadership positions within Toronto's non-profit sector. These challenges include navigating anti-Black Racism, code-switching, performativity, and mental health issues. To cope with these challenges, they have implemented various strategies.


The findings suggest that the construction of race and racialization within systems is experienced by Black men in leadership positions in unique and often challenging ways. The men in this research all experienced significant overt racism. These experiences of racism were primarily due to their social location as racialized Black men. As racialized Black men, their bodies are positioned in opposition to the prevailing leadership ideologies. They spend significant time working to ensure that their colleagues see them as leaders. The extent to which these experiences' internalization shapes Black male leaders' well-being is profound and, in some cases, problematic. These men have had to develop ways to deal with the mental trauma of being treated as inferior. The coping mechanisms and strategies range from self-medication to simply resigning from their positions. The findings highlight ways the non-profit sector can support these men and the next generation of Black male leaders. The findings also reveal ways Black men can support themselves and each other as they navigate the sector.

Subject Area

Black people--Canada--Toronto; Men, Black--Canada--Toronto; Leadership; Race relations