Journal of Leadership Studies from University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix academic leaders turned their focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) topics in the spring issue of the Journal of Leadership Studies, produced by the School of Advanced Studies. Among the featured articles was one by Kimberly Underwood, Ph.D., MBA., chair of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (CWDIR) at University of Phoenix, who explored “Diversity, Leadership, and the ‘New Normal’”.

In her paper, Underwood discussed the inequities brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic including “racial disparities in socioeconomic classes and the distribution of wealth, lack of affordable health care, widespread food insecurities, access to housing and a ‘digital divide’ among social classes.” These inequities, she argued, have contributed to a “collective trauma” and forced business leaders to directly address the imbalance and confront racial inequality head on.

Underwood is an expert on DEIB topics who has served in various roles at University of Phoenix including as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Policy, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Policy and Chairperson of Doctoral Studies. She has presented on numerous topics bringing together DEIB and research including how to use research to most effectively incorporate diversity and inclusion efforts into organizations.

In the same spring issue, Underwood also authored the article “Re-envisioning the Diversified Workforce Within the ‘New Normal’” where she discussed the importance of diverse employees for driving the success of an organization. This diversity is most beneficial, she posited, not through the old model of adding a specific number of people representing race and gender goals but through adopting a broader lens.

She wrote that all Fortune 500 companies and nearly half of mid-sized companies today have programs dedicated to diversity. Inclusive leadership “is across both human resource practices and organizational strategies, making diversity management a priority within overall operations.” 

DEIB in the Context of Educational Leadership and Nonprofit Boards

An article from Rodney Luster, PhD, LPC focused on “Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education.” In it, he explored the theory of trust and how trust is essential for effective higher education leadership.

Luster is the Senior Director of Research Strategy, Innovation and Development for the Research Center Enterprise within the College of Doctoral Studies at University of Phoenix. He has posted a series of blogs on “The Psychological Shift” created by the COVID-19 pandemic which brought on “Rapid Onset of Change” (ROC) and how people can use analysis, logic and reason to navigate this shift at home and at work.

Jeffery Rhymes and Sandra Sessoms-Penny, both of the College of Doctoral Studies at University of Phoenix, wrote about how educational leadership at K-12 schools can be transformed through diversity awareness, executive coaching and closing the digital divide.

Their paper confronted the way the COVID-19 pandemic created an immediate need for remote learning and the way socioeconomic inequities left many schoolchildren from underprivileged communities at a distinct disadvantage. They wrote that the digital divide “is disrupting the learning of youth in America and around the world.”

Simona L. Brickers, D.M., wrote in the journal about nonprofit boards’ receptivity to diversity. Brickers studies business management and organizational leadership and focuses on diversity management with the goal of managing and strengthening organizations through change and inclusivity. In the article, Brickers  shared that nonprofit boards’ openness to diversity is “pivotal to impactful social change, meeting an organization’s mission, enhancing community engagement and increasing fundraising.”

About the Journal of Leadership Studies

Produced by Wiley®, the Journal of Leadership Studies is a quarterly academic research publication produced by the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies that publishes research from University scholars including doctoral students, faculty members and practitioners. The Journal merges theory and practical experience and positions quality academic scholarship to influence organizational best practices.

Wiley is a trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. The University offers a range of online education options including associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees degree programs as well as professional certifications. Every program is designed to align with the career goals of adult learners.

University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies offers degree programs in a number of high-growth career areas including healthcare, business and education. Doctoral students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning and Career Services for Life® commitment help University of Phoenix students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit

Sharing it to help others:

Leave a Comment