Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Theresa Coble, PhD


Carl Hoagland, EdD

Keith Miller, PhD

Phyllis Balcerzak, PhD


This study explores qualities identified as being critical to leadership work in heritage fields as identified by established leaders in heritage work. It also establishes a foundational definition of the term heritage leadership. After reviewing existing data to identify significant questions related to heritage leadership, the research team interviewed leaders in HIn and Education for Sustainability with a specific focus on leadership, meaning making, and social emotional competencies as guiding constructs in heritage leadership. A proposed definition of the term heritage leadership resulted: Heritage leaders aspire to serve others and to create meaningful connections to shared natural and cultural heritage through contextual application of skills and competencies, thereby fostering understanding with the intent to preserve and protect heritage for future generations. This study further explored heritage leadership as a process that leaders follow stemming from personal aspirations and attributes and moving to the development of skill sets and mindsets in preparation for engagement in meaning making as a desired outcome of heritage leadership activities. The characteristics identified in this heritage leadership process guide recommendations for organizational focus on personal and professional development opportunities for staff and students in the related fields. Generation of meaningful, emotional connections to shared social, cultural, and natural heritage is seen by heritage leaders as critical to engaging citizenry in efforts to understand, preserve, and protect shared heritage. Heritage leaders believe that the forging of these connections is crucial to the future well-being of our communities and societies at large