Brian Peckrill
Brian Peckrill MAIEM/MPA ‘16

Middlebury Institute alumnus Brian Peckrill MAIEM/MPA ‘16 is senior program manager at WorldChicago where he oversees all youth programs and business development for the nonprofit organization. He shares his experience in the international education management degree program and beyond.

Job function area

Citizen diplomacy, grant development; proposal writing; project management

Brief description of organization

WorldChicago is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting citizen diplomacy through programs that connect the Chicago community with the world. WorldChicago facilitates collaboration between people from all walks of life to advance national security, economic development and social justice.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your current work?

Reading about the great projects my visitors/delegates/youth go on to do following their time in Chicago (and hearing how their time in the United States has positively influenced their and their friends/family’s lives). When I see that my visitors are leading school training on countering a culture of sexual harassment in Russian offices, and leading religious tolerance peace circles in Kurdistan, I know we are making a difference.

How do citizen diplomacy and international education intersect?  

At its essence, true international education [exchange] is citizen diplomacy. In this case, a precondition is the interexchange between domestic and international students/professionals/diplomats. Whether it is judges from Tunisia studying our legal system, or graduate school engineering students from Brazil, first and foremost, we are all humans. Citizen diplomacy is people learning from people, and it is the moments between structured learning in conference rooms and classrooms where our visitors learn the many similarities we all share.  Often times, international education is thought of as the vehicle for citizen diplomacy, but when people share experiences in different contexts (as lawyers, students, doctors, ect.), citizen diplomacy oftentimes resonates deeply with our participants and leaves everyone more informed and connected. As such, I really have a difficult time articulating the point of intersection between citizen diplomacy and international education. Citizen diplomacy is so embedded in successful international education that it is difficult to remove it without the spirit of international education collapsing.

What aspects of the IEM program most prepared you for your professional life?

Program Design and Assessment. I use the skills from this class to prepare multi-year and multi-region proposals. These are the skills that differentiate me from others in the industry and give WorldChicago a strategic approach in proposal development, something that has benefited our organization’s growth.

Did your career path diverge from initial plans upon graduation? How did you navigate any changes?

Actually, no. When I arrived at MIIS, I changed my LinkedIn profile introduction to: “Brian Peckrill — Citizen Diplomat and Cultural Exchange Professional”. Despite exploring various industries and professions at MIIS, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be from the onset.

What are the greatest challenges that you see facing the field of international education?

For organizations like WorldChicago (NPOs that sustain on public contracts), the transition into the private marketplace. Everyone knows that citizen diplomacy will be become more and more citizen-driven in the future. For organizations like WorldChicago, this will require changing value propositions that once were directed toward government entities to be more versatile. Organizations must be prepared to work with foundations (private and corporate), as well as provide direct services to citizens. This inevitable foray will require bring on more competition, but perhaps more benefit to the general public and the organization.

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