Initiative empowers global Christian leaders from BU

Katherine Diehl is coordinator for the Global Mission Leadership Initiative, which brings Christian leaders from around the world to study at Baylor. Josh Aguirre | Multimedia Journalist

By Corrie Coleman | Reporter

The Global Mission Leadership Initiative, a program in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, works to educate and empower international leaders. The program brings Christian leaders from around the globe to Baylor, offering full scholarships, mentorship and support during their time at the university.

Jennifer Dickey, Global Mission Leadership Initiative director and social work professor, said the program started in 2008 through the efforts of the late dean of the social work school, Diana Garland.

“[Garland] wrote an innovative grant proposal for funding for the program. She had dreamed of a way to educate international leaders,” Dickey said. “The program grew with support and we ended up ultimately getting the program endowed.”

Ten years later, the Global Mission Leadership Initiative continues to educate international leaders, many of whom are already inducing progress in their communities. They come to Baylor to gain more skills that will help them better serve.

“The GML [Global Mission Leadership Initiative] program was intended to empower international leaders with social work skills and education to support the good work they’re already doing,” Dickey said. “All the global leaders who come to us have already been doing amazing work in their countries, and they believe that getting a masters in social work will empower them to do it.”

Katherine Diehl, Global Mission Leadership Initiative coordinator, explained that since the program’s inception many alumni have gone on to prompt change around the world.

“Our alumni are really doing some meaningful work. We have someone in Zambia starting a social work program,” Diehl said. “There’s someone working for UNICEF in Malaysia and someone who wrote the first child protection program in Myanmar.”

Diehl said the Global Mission Leadership Initiative also benefits American students in the social work school by exposing them to new and diverse perspectives.

“As someone who went through the school a while ago, the GML students really taught me a lot as a student,” Diehl said. “They are really able to share from a completely different perspective in a way that allows an American student to really learn from their experience and way of thinking.”

Dickey said through her time living internationally, she has learned the importance of leaders serving in their own communities.

“Global leaders are going to be the ones that really see the change, transformation and all the beauty that their communities are intended to be,” Dickey said. “They’re going to be the ones who are going to lead that out and see that happen.”

Diehl also said the power that social workers have to create change in their own communities.

“They’re able to gain the trust of their community a lot quicker than someone coming from the outside,” Diehl said. “Someone who is working to see an impact in their own community is going to see a lot deeper impact and longer-lasting impact, and they’re going to see it a lot quicker. An outsider will never have the same amount of impact as someone who really knows the culture.”