EdD student in ProLIT
Program Insights

Why We Chose Concordia’s EdD in Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation

By Kara Wyman, MEd October 27, 2018

Whether you’re considering Concordia University-Portland’s doctoral program or you’re about to begin it, we thought you’d like to know more about one of our most popular EdD concentrations: Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation.

At a glance, you can see that this EdD program is customizable to fit your individual needs and career goals, but there are many interesting things about it. So I connected with five of our EdD students to find out more about why this specific program appealed to them and how it has helped them in their careers.

Denisha Brown-Gainer EdD Student

Denisha Brown-Gainer, education specialist in TX

Leo Contreras EdD Student

Leo Contreras, instructional coach in TX

Amy Cooper EdD Student

Amy Cooper, teacher, researcher, and entrepreneur in MN

Angela Lehr EdD Student

Angela Lehr, therapist, adjunct professor, and clinical supervisor in MT

Kim White EdD Student

Kim White, learning strategist in MD






What made you choose the Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation concentration?

“I selected the Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation concentration initially because it was the most all-inclusive of the EdD programs offered by Concordia. I quickly came to realize that this program is really about transforming education and that is something I am truly passionate about.” – Denisha Brown-Gainer

“What appealed to me about selecting the EdD in ProLIT was the flexibility in my choices of coursework. Also, I didn’t want to feel like I “pigeon-holed” my career within a campus setting. I have greater goals to pursue roles with more of a supervisory responsibility.” – Leo Contreras

I chose this option because I was able to combine two important aspects of leadership: higher education and teacher leadership. This unique option fits my interest and scope of research perfectly.” – Amy Cooper

“The self-tailored format is what drew me to this concentration. This affords me the opportunity to blend my mental health background with higher education, professional leadership, transformative learning, and professional development.” – Angela Lehr

My career path included working for an organization that provided job opportunities for professional instructional designers and other learning and development professionals. It strongly aligns with my career goals.” – Kim White

This course of study is characterized as “self-tailored.” Can you explain how that aspect has benefited you?

It is very structured and intentional. As the student, you have the freedom to select a program that fits with your passions, personalities, and commitment abilities, but you are also supported by such a wonderful university that structures the programs to provide quality learning opportunities. I have enjoyed the self-tailored aspect because I have not felt pressured to fit into any one particular program.” – Denisha Brown-Gainer

“An EdD in ProLIT has provided me opportunities to choose challenging coursework that is not specific to any one curricula. As such, I’ve been able to explore other concentrations which have truly benefited my current employment. In fact, I’ve been able to incorporate elements from each of my courses into my professional life, allowing me to excel in practice.” – Leo Contreras

I was able to select the areas that homed in on my interests and passions. The ability to do so created deep dimensions of innovative thinking and learning processes.” – Amy Cooper

“This concentration has allowed me to expand and integrate multiple knowledge areas.” – Angela Lehr

The ability to design and or choose the curriculum was very helpful in allowing me to select courses that would enable me to position myself for my planned career change.  When I started this program, I offered professional development training 25% of the time to childcare providers and supplied direct care to clients in my program 75% of the time. I obtained a dual MEd degree in Instructional Technology in May 2015, and a second master’s degree in Distance Education in May 2017. In May 2018, I finally secured a position as a learning strategist that utilizes all of my skills. As a result, I am now developing trainings and devise policies and courses 75% of the time, and offer childcare in the evenings and on weekends 25% of the time.” – Kim White

How has this specific program impacted your professional advancement?

I currently work as an education specialist/curriculum coordinator for a private school and this program has definitely made me reflect on my leadership style and some of the areas in desperate need of improvement within my leadership team. Through my studies, I have been able to understand and value the impact appropriate leadership can have on the success of a program, a school, the students, and staff. Leadership really does have the power to transform and should not be taken lightly.” – Denisha Brown-Gainer

“I am currently an instructional coach on a PreK-9 campus. Specifically, courses related to adult learning have been beneficial as they have allowed me to explore new approaches to working with adults. I see this as a “win-win” situation. Not only are those with whom I work receiving support, but I also find myself gaining knowledge through the process.” – Leo Contreras

I am a second-grade teacher and a researcher for the University of WI, and I’m starting up my own education business called CooperCreds. The coursework has allowed me to expand my thinking, find gaps in the education domain, and understand how to fill them with the breadth of knowledge each course provides.” – Amy Cooper

“I have worked in the mental health counseling field for nearly 18 years, most recently as a therapist in private practice, adjunct professor, and clinical supervisor.  I am in the process of shifting and growing into my next career. I am working as a mental health literacy community educator and coordinating a mental health and trauma-informed community initiative in rural MT. This doctoral program has allowed me to apply and foster my newly developing skills through my classes’ projects and research processes.” – Angela Lehr

My current position is learning strategist. This program speaks specifically to leading an organization to develop its training program to include teamwork, and many other important strategies such as group learning, and applying learning theories to improve the transfer of training. The information is extremely helpful. My course projects help me to analyze my current work environment to develop a specific organization plan that identifies gaps in training, and the course references and materials offer many scientifically based materials to provide a structured plan.” – Kim White

Is there a concentration course, assignment, or resource that you’ve found particularly eye-opening or helpful?

Transformational Learning” and “Leading Organizational Change” were extremely eye-opening for me. Both courses forced me to reflect on my impact on the world of education as well as how my being better could potentially make those around me better. “Transformational Learning” really looked at the power we possess to transform our circumstances, educational and otherwise. “Leading Organizational Change” encouraged me to work with those inside of my organization to make it better; listening to the voices that make up the organization is the best way to improve the areas of struggle.” – Denisha Brown-Gainer

“The resource I have found particularly helpful has been Michael Fullan’s book Change Leader: Learning to Do What Matters Most. Having studied this book as part of a course motivated me to read his other books related to the topic of change. I find myself quoting his work many times, and including his theory in many of the projects, presentations, and trainings of which I have been a part.” – Leo Contreras

The ‘technology in higher education’ course broadened my understanding of the need for improved pedagogical practices in the 21st century.” – Amy Cooper

“The classes that have been the most eye-opening and impactful thus far are the “Ethical Educator” and “Transformational Dimensions of Learning.”  The “Final Form Professional Ethics Statement” and the “Transformative Theory Final Project on Truth” illuminated authentic truths about myself and my future professional development that have been and will be instrumental in my new career path.” – Angela Lehr

Both my current course and my last course seem to mirror my work environment, and they have provided me with many resourceful solutions to workplace concerns. For instance, in my current course, I have learned about mirror neurons and how they interact with the attitudes that workers have towards trainings based on the level of manager enthusiasm or support for training and development. My previous course spoke about a concept called “Implementation Dip.” This occurs when organizations are implementing new policies or procedures, and the workers will display a decrease in output as they adjust to the new culture and expectations.” – Kim White

Thanks to these five EdD students for sharing their experiences thus far. We wish them luck on becoming transformational leaders in their respective communities and beyond.

Kara Wyman earned a MEd and a BA from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She spent a decade working with adolescents as an English teacher, the founder, and director of a drama program, a curriculum designer, and a project manager for a teen-centered nonprofit organization. She’s served as the Alumni and Community Manager for Concordia University-Portland and is now the managing editor of Concordia’s Room 241 blog.

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