While African American women are increasingly becoming equipped with the appropriate educational credentials and have made scant gains in the advancement to senior administrative roles over the past 20 years, African American women leaders remain in a quandary. Little has changed. Scholars have conducted extensive studies on issues related to African American women in higher education, yet the unique leadership experiences of African American women administrators remain absent in the literature. Research on African American women in higher education have asserted the need for additional and more targeted research on the experiences that African American women face in the academy, and most importantly at predominantly White institutions, to bring voice on the unique leadership experiences of African American women at the senior and executive level in higher education. Therefore, this dissertation describes the leadership experiences of African American women senior- and executive-level administrators at predominantly White public institutions in California. Through a phenomenological research design, and triangulation of data collected through document analysis, informal and formal interviews, and naturalistic observation, this study explored the unique experiences, challenges, and perceptions of seven women, as they navigate as "firsts" and "the only" African American women serving in their leadership roles at predominantly White institutions in southern, central, and northern California. Using a social constructionist framework, through the epistemological lens of Critical Race Theory, Black Feminist Thought and a Womanist Ideology, and a leadership framework, this study sought to document the leadership experiences, retention strategies, effects of support networks, how power impacts their roles as leaders, what meanings they ascribe to their experiences, and how experiences may differ based on institution type. The data demonstrated that African American women senior- and executive-level administrators at predominantly White public institutions in California (a) have unique paths to leadership, (b) possess leadership styles based on purpose and core values and ideals, (c) experience multiple challenges rooted in issues related to race and gender, and (d) maintain resilient retention strategies which assists them in progressing and advancing in their administrative roles. The unique leadership experiences of African American women administrators is truly a phenomenon.