School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Tracy N. Baker


female church leadership, intersectionality, strong black woman, SBW motif, positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment, PERMA, well-being


Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of Black women in church leadership (e.g., pastors, clergywomen) who experienced intersectionality and were influenced by the Strong Black Woman (SBW) motif, specifically in the Black Church in the southern United States. Intersectionality and the SBW schema were the guiding theoretical frameworks in this study. With adherence to these guiding theories, the participants were asked to describe their experiences with intersectionality while influenced by SBW and to examine well-being as it pertained to their lives and ministerial calling. Despite the emergence of more women in ministry, the barriers these women faced were great. Their responses to intersectionality and the embodiment of the key tenets of SBW were crucial for efficacious leadership. The Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment (PERMA) model was utilized to measure the clergywomen’s well-being. Data collection included a 30-question semi-structured interview with each participant and a culminating focus group of participants to validate and refine themes developed from the interviews. Six themes and 15 sub-themes emerged from data analysis. The prevalent themes were contemporary experiences with intersectionality, responses to intersectionality, SBW influence, well-being, PERMA, and the How I Thrive mantra. The results from the study addressed the gaps in the extant literature: contemporary experiences of Black clergywomen with intersectionality, the influence of SBW, and their impact on maintaining a healthy well-being.