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Patricia Parker, Ph.D. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Patricia Parker, Ph.D. Patricia Parker, Ph.D.

Ruel W. Tyson Distinguished Professor of Humanities; Director, Institute for the Arts and Humanities; Professor, Department of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences | UNC-Chapel Hill


Uses organizational communication theories to explore how discourses of race, gender and class intersect with girls’ and women's leadership.



Patricia Parker, Ph.D. Publication Patricia Parker, Ph.D. Publication



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Patricia S. Parker is an associate professor of Communication in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences. She uses decolonizing/participatory research methodologies and critical organizational communication theories to explore how discourses of race, gender and class intersect with girls’ and women's leadership, empowerment and agency.

While conducting research for a book on the leadership approaches of African-American female executives a few years ago, Parker made the linkage in her mind between the life work of civil and human rights activist Ella Jo Baker, whom she had long admired as an unsung hero, and the personal stories of the executives who cited a grounding in community as being pivotal to their success. The Ella Baker Women's Center for Leadership and Community Activism is part of her evolving vision to promote the continued legacy of transformative leadership by women of color.

At UNC, Parker regularly teaches "Communication and Leadership;" "Group Communication;" "Interpretive Studies in Organizational Communication;" and "Seminar in Race, Ethnicity, and Organization." Her honors include: Kauffman Faculty Fellow, 2006-2007; Scholar in Residence, Center for Urban and Regional Studies, 2005; Affiliate Fellow, Institute of African American Research, 2003-present; Burress Fellow, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, 2002-present. Among Parker's recent publications are: “Race, Gender, and Leadership: Re-envisioning Organizational Leadership from the Perspectives of African American Women Executives:” “Keeping It Real: Race, Difference, and Corporate Ethics at Coca-Cola:” “Always at Risk?: African American Women Faculty, Graduate Students, and Undergraduates."

Her upcoming book is "A Primer on Community Engagement and Communication for Social Justice Leadership" (University of California Press, 2020).

She is the former Director of Faculty Diversity Initiatives for the College of Arts and Sciences (2012-2015).

Areas of Expertise (7)

Community Engagement

Girl's and Women's Empowerment

Youth Activism

Community Engaged Scholarship

Social Justice Leadership

Organizational Leadership

Organizational Communication

Accomplishments (5)

University Diversity Award (Faculty) (2014) (professional)

Awarded by UNC Chapel Hill

Academic Leadership Program Fellow, Faculty Fellow and Participant in Chairs Leadership Program (professional)

Institute for the Arts and Humanities

Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award in recognition of outstanding engaged teaching (2013) (professional)

Awarded by UNC Chapel Hill

Faculty Learning Community on Strategic Planning and Leadership Program Fellow (2012 - 2013) (professional)

Awarded by UNC Chapel Hill

Engaged Scholars Service Award (professional)

National Communication Association, Organizational Communication Division (2010)

Education (3)

University of Texas at Austin: Ph.D., Communication Studies 1997

California State University: M.A., Speech Communication 1984

Arkansas Tech University: B.A., Speech, Theatre, and Journalism 1980

Affiliations (2)

  • The Ella Baker Women's Center for Leadership : Founder / Executive Director
  • Founding Partner The Community Chorus Project (2011-2013)

Media Appearances (4)

"An Interview with Dr. Patricia Parker"

Frank News  online


This interview with Dr. Patricia Parker, Chair at the Department of Communication, Associate Professor of Organizational Communication Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, and founder of the Ella Baker Women's Center, was conducted and condensed by frank news.

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"Communication for Social Justice Activism"

University of California Press blog  online

The specter of social injustice looms large, as the number and reach of social injustices grow daily. Communication scholars (both researchers and teachers) are well positioned to confront injustice, as activism, fundamentally, demands engaging in various communication forms and practices. Communication for social justice activism involves people (including communication researchers, teachers, students, organizational employees, and community members) using communication theories, methods, pedagogies, and other practices to work with and for oppressed, marginalized, and underresourced groups and communities, as well as with activist groups and organizations, to intervene into inequitable systems and make their structures and practices more just.

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New UNC department of communication heads change status quo

The Daily Tar Heel  print


Parker, who joined the UNC communication faculty in 1998, spent her time at UNC studying the intersections of multiple identities, which was the topic of her 2005 publication “Race, Gender, and Leadership.”

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Youth Radio: How shyness can be a good thing

WUNC  radio

Sept. 13, 2013 “ I believe that leadership is very much, for me, connected to a belief in the humanity and the gifts of other people,” Parker says. “And there are lots of different ways of creating that space for those gifts to come out.”

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Event Appearances (5)

Decolonizing Diversity in the Age of Globalization: Writing against the Persistence of Racialization in Organization Theory and Practice

Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association  San Deigo, CA.


“You’re Out of Control”: The Normalizing of White Emotional Experience as a Site of Control and Resistance in the Gendered and Racialized Workplace

Gender, Work and Organization: 5th International Interdisciplinary Conference  Staffordshire, UK.


Community Based Participatory Research with African American Teen Girls in Low Income Communities

Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program Seminar  Chapel Hill, NC.


Creating and Sustaining Diverse Workplaces: Valuing Diversity/Negotiating Difference

Paper presented at the 46th Annual North Carolina City and County Management Seminar  Research Triangle Park, NC.


Race, Gender, And Leadership: (En)Countering Discourses that Devalue African American Women as Leaders

27th Alabama Symposium, The Signs of Race Series on Literature, Race, and Ethnicity  Tuscaloosa, AL.


Articles (6)

Community-Engaged Scholarship: Opening spaces for transformative politics

TAMARA Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry

2013 (Introduction to the special issue)

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Navigating socio-spatial difference, constructing counter-space: Insights from transnational feminist praxis

Journal of International and Intercultural

2011 ABSTRACT: In recent years, feminist activists have increasingly transnationalized their struggle against local forms of oppression. Our study explores the contentious nature of feminist transnationalism, asking how transnational feminist networks (TFNs) navigate socio- ...

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Intersecting differences: Organizing (ourselves) for social justice work with people in vulnerable communities


2011 (invited chapter) in "Reframing differences in organizational communication studies: Research, pedagogy, practice." [In D.K. Mumby (Ed.)]

Imagining organizational communication as a decolonizing project: In conversation with Broadfoot, Munshi, Mumby, and Stohl

Management Communication Quarterly

2008 We write to join the provocative and important conversation initiated in the November 2007 forum,“Diverse Voices and Alternative Rationalities.” As reflected in the above quotations from the respective essays by Broadfoot and Munshi (2007b) and Mumby and Stohl ...

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Negotiating identity in raced and gendered workplace interactions: The use of strategic communication by African American women senior executives within dominant culture organizations

Communication Quarterly

2002 ABSTRACT: This research examines African American women executives’ communicative strategies for negotiating workplace interactions perceived as problematic. In‐depth interviews were conducted with 15 African American women senior executives employed in public and private sector U.S. organizations...

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African American Women Executives’ Leadership Communication within Dominant-Culture Organizations

Management Communication Quarterly

2001 ABSTRACT: This research examined African American women executives’ leadership communication within majority White, male-dominated organizations in the United States. Study participants were 15 African American women executives, one or more of their subordinates, and, in four cases, their supervisors. Analyses of in-depth interviews, observations, and archival data revealed five themes related to the executives’ leadership communication that challenge views of women as master collaborators who shun control-oriented leadership...

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