Date of Award

Spring 3-20-2017

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Keith Larick

Second Advisor

Dr. John Cascamo

Third Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Lee


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of Asian Americans who became chief executive officers (CEOs) of a California Community College District. This study discussed the experiences, the influence of Asian culture, the perception of Asian Americans, and the challenges encountered by Asian American CEOs. To know and understand how Asian Americans attained the CEO position is significant because there are very few who are in this role. It is important to understand the lived experiences of Asian American California Community College CEOs and learn how they were able to make a major breakthrough by reaching the top leadership position. Asian Americans generally have the highest rate of educational achievement compared to other groups and are viewed as high performers in the workplace, however, they are underrepresented as leaders of these higher education organizations. This study included how Asian culture influenced the experiences of Asian American CEOs. Methodology: This qualitative, phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of eight Asian American CEOs of California community colleges. The researcher conducted structured, in-depth interviews as the form of data collection and analyzed the data for themes. Findings: Based upon the information gathered, the data revealed that Asian American CEOs were raised to make education a priority and have a strong sense of their cultural identity. Additionally, Asian American CEOs acknowledged stereotypes and overcame perceptions about Asians. Conclusions: Based on the findings, the researcher concluded that education is a core value to Asian American CEOs and motivates their purpose to serve students, Asian Americans CEOs in California community colleges experienced a strong support network that inspired them to pursuit CEO positions. Recommendations: After an assessment of the conclusions, further research in this subject area is recommended. A study using an expanded geographic area should be conducted so that community colleges in other states could be observed. California is such a diverse state so a comparative analysis from the same study applied to another state or region may add to the body of knowledge.