Associate Professor Lorri Michelle Johnson Santamaria

PhD University of Arizona, 2000


Dr Santamaría graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Bilingual Elementary School Education. She then received an MA and PhD in Bilingual Special Education Rehabilitation and School Psychology from the University of Arizona with an emphasis in Multicultural Education. Lorri attained certification in Educational Administration in the state of California. She joined the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland in June of 2012.


Over the last 20 years, Associate Professor Santamaría has held a wide variety of positions in public education ranging from bilingual classroom teacher to special day class teacher to district administrator in Arizona and California. In addition to her K-12 public education experience and prior to her appointment as Head of School (LDPP) in 2015, and Associate Dean Postgraduate Programmes (2014), Lorri was most recently the California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) Director for the Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership with the University of California, San Diego where she collaboratively supported students who were practicing educational leaders working toward the attainment of terminal degrees. The program included the rigorous examination of strengths in students’ organizations, their building leadership capacity, and facilitating the potential of systems for transformation.


Associate Professor Santamaría presents cross-cultural research at the local, state, national, and international level around culturally responsive education, the creation and maintenance of culturally responsive school cultures, and the impact of cultural and linguistic diversity on the field of educational leadership. In Aotearoa-NZ her scholarship has expanded to include work with Māori and Pasifika colleagues and communities.  Her research interests include the impact of social justice and educational equity on leadership for a diverse society including the roles cultural, linguistic, and gender diversity play in educational leadership for a global society.

Research | Current

Leadership practices promoting cultural and linguistic diversity and academic achievement in Early Childhood, Primary, Middle School Secondary and Higher Education (preK-HE)

  • Widening Participation for Students who are First in Family to attend University
  • Engaging Cross-cultural and International Research Communities
  • Indigenous and Critical Race Research Methodologies
  • Leadership in Māori, Pasifika and Indigenous contexts in Aotearoa- NZ, the US and similar countries
  • Women of Color in Educational Leadership PreK-HE
  • Multicultural Multilingual Education meeting the needs of systemically underserved (e.g., African American, Latino, American Indian- US) and priority learners (e.g., Māori, Indigenous, Pasifika, immigrant students-NZ)
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse school leaders and leadership toward academic acheivement
  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity of students pursuing doctorates in Educational Leadership

Research Projects


  • Overcoming Inequalities in Schools and Learning Communities: Innovative Action for a New Century (SALEACOM); source, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) International and inter-sectoral cooperation through the Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) research grant (Royal Society New Zealand, $50K (2014 [2015-2018])- NZ PI with a team of researchers led by colleagues at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Barcelona, Spain.

Goals- (1) Increase worldwide cooperation in comparative study of successful educational actions with   children and youth systemically underserved, (2) Provide high-quality training programmes for teachers and educational researchers who aim to overcome societal inequalities, (3) Provide high-quality training, develop interdisciplinary solutions, and design strengths-based culturally responsive research methodologies in order to (4) Create a comparative cross-cultural global programme of successful educational actions responsive to the needs of historically excluded learners (e.g., Māori, Roma, African American, Latino) learners across educational systems in the world.

  • Optimising Māori academic achievement (OMAA); source, AKO Aotearoa (2013 [2014-2016]), $300K)- PI with Dr. J. Lee

Goal-Increase Māori retention and completion at UoA.

  • Widening Participation: ‘First in the Family’ students succeeding in universities; source, World Universities Network WUN/ GHEAR (2013 [2014], $20K)- Co-lead with Dr. Wolfgramm-Foliaki and Dr. Airini 

Goal- International comparative work with partners in SA, AUS and US to better understand and improve FIFU experience locally and globally.


  • VC Strategic Fund (2013 [2014], $300K)- PI with Dr. J. Lee, Dr. H. Dixon, Dr. T. Wendt-Samu

Goal-Increase Māori and Pasifika retention and completion at UoA.

  • International Central Networks Fund ICNF (2014, $5K)- Trip to Chile for Equity Workshop, UoA representative
  • Understanding the Educational Leadership/ Multicultural Education Interface (EL-MEI) FRDF (2013, $64K)

Goal- Increase knowledge around school leadership practices to benefit Māori and Pasifika learners.

  • Learning, Development and Professional Practice LDPP (2013, $1K)- School travel reward


Postgraduate supervision

  • S. Rosado. (2011). EdD Dissertation. Browing the rainbow: Identity & leadership in Higher Education. CSUSM, UCSD USA.
  • S. Gross. (2012). EdD Dissertation. Presidential leadership in Higher Education. CSUSM, UCSD USA.
  • K. Stiemke. (2012). EdD Dissertation.  The pathway to the EdD for women of color. CSUSM, UCSD USA.       
  • C. McKean. (2013). EdD Dissertation. The Realization of Transformational Leadership with Elementary School Principals. CSUSM, UCSD USA.
  • H. Obaid. (2013). MAEd Dissertation. Leadership with an educational reform in the United Arab Emirates.
  • S. Groube. (2013). BEdHons Dissertation. Teachers attitudes making difference to Pasifica student achievement in written language.
  • A. Cheang. (2014). MAEd Dissertation.  New Zealand and Singapore: Rethinking leadership with learning at the heart.
  • P. Krishan. (2014). MAEd Thesis. Perceived effects of a Pasifika homework center.
  • K. Sargeant. (2014). MAEd Thesis. The impact of school practices on parental engagement and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.


Associate Professor Santamaría is the Head of School (HoS) for Learning, Development and Professional Practice (LDPP).  In addition, she conducts research, teaches, and provides service to the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice. Associate Professor Santamaría also teaches on Leadership courses (EDPROFST 738, EDUC 732) works collaboratively with Te Puna Wānanga, the Māori School of Education and publishes with colleagues in Te Puna and the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy.  

Areas of expertise

  • Research, teaching, and service in the fields of Educational Leadership and Critical Studies in Education
  • Social justice and equity from critical pedagogy and critical race theoretical perspectives
  • Applied critical leadership Early Childhood Education-Higher Education
  • Critical multiculturalism, multicultural education, and complementary educational practices
  • Increased Early Childhood Education through Higher Education educational equity, access, opportunity, and academic achievement
  • Emphasis on historically marginalized individuals and groups of people to benefit the greater local, regional, national, and global society
  • Work in Aotearoa-NZ alongside Māori and Pasifika colleagues to promote Māori and Indigenous leadership practices and to increase retention and completion rates for students
  • Previous work in the US as Professor of Multicultural/ Multilingual education with Latino, African American, American Indian, and Asian Pasific Island descent educational leaders

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Santamaria, L. M. (2016). Theories of educational leadership. Oxford Bibliographies. Education10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0153
  • Santamaria, L. M., & Santamaria, A. P. (Eds.) (2016). Culturally responsive leadership in higher education: Practices promoting access, equity and improvement. New York: Routledge. Related URL.
  • Santamaria, L. J., & Santamaria, A. P. (2015). Counteracting racism with applied critical leadership: Culturally responsive practices promoting sustainable change. The International Journal of Multicultural Education, 17 (1), 22-41.
  • Fitzpatrick, K., & Santamaría LJ (2015). Disrupting racialization: Considering critical leadership in the field of physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, Online first.10.1080/17408989.2014.990372
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Katie Fitzpatrick
  • Santamaria, L. J. (2014). Critical change for the greater good: Multicultural perceptions of educational leadership toward social justice and equity. Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ), 50 (3), 347-391. 10.1177/0013161X13505287
  • Santamaria, L. M., & Jean-Marie, G. (2014). Cross-cultural dimensions of applied, critical, and transformational leadership: Women principals advancing social justice and educational equity. Cambridge Educational Journal, 44 (3), 333-360. 10.1080/0305764X.2014.904276
  • Santamaria, L. J. (2014). Interrupting educational campus inequities. In C. Nevarez, J. L. Wood (Eds.) Ethical leadership and the community college: Paradigms, decision-making, and praxis (pp. 35-35). Charlotte, NC USA: Information Age Publishing.
  • Santamaria, L. J., Jean-Marie, G., & Grant, C. M. (Eds.) (2014). Cross-cultural women scholars in academe: Intergenerational voices. New York, NY USA: Routledge. Pages: 196.