When Paul Moede, director of global communications at Compassion International, promoted Leanna Summers to editor-in-chief of Compassion Magazine in 2006, he was looking for someone to grow and hone the launch of a new iteration of the print magazine, Compassion Magazine. As an editor at Compassion Magazine, Summers proved an ideal fit. She understood the organization’s mission and was an excellent communicator, writer and marketer.
One goal leads to another.
Summers hit the ground running in her new role and was successful at taking Compassion Magazine to a new level, including to the digital masses. She also launched a second magazine, Compassion Explorer Magazine, aimed at teaching kids about the daily lives of children who live in poverty. Today, each magazine is published seven times per year, with a combined circulation of more than 850,000 in online, tablet and print versions.
Leanna Summers had achieved the immediate goals of her position, but she wasn’t finished. A woman of faith who believes learning is a lifelong journey, Summers enrolled in Spring Arbor University’s online Master of Arts in Communication program in 2010 to build upon her leadership skills and gain insight into intercultural communications.
“I wanted a program that was flexible, since I work full time, but I also wanted a program that incorporated my faith into the coursework,” said Summers. “At first I was skeptical about online learning. I didn’t know if I could get a quality education online. I thought that the coursework wouldn’t be as in-depth or rigorous, or that I wouldn’t be able to learn from a professor in this setting. I was so wrong! The environment was challenging and intense, but in a good way that really challenged me to learn.”
Summers credits her time at Spring Arbor University Online with preparing her for leadership and service, as well as strengthening her skills in conflict resolution and negotiation. “I have a strong foundation in these now and have used my skills time and time again to help in my work and personal situations,” said Summers.
Moede agrees. “Leanna has more assurance, and I have seen her become more confident as a leader. She runs one of the most solid teams within Compassion International, and she has been absolutely pivotal in our growth.”
A new calling is born.
Perhaps the most exciting benefit of attending Spring Arbor University’s online Master’s degree in Communication was that Summers discovered a new calling.
“I began serving refugees in my community and have learned so much about their challenges and how I can help,” said Summers. “I’m so glad that my coursework encouraged me to explore these areas because it has made me a more well-rounded, compassionate person, and it opened up worlds of need in my own community that I didn’t even know existed.”
In addition to her service at Compassion International, Summers has taught ESL classes and feels called to minister to area immigrant populations. It’s with this new calling that Moede sees Summer’s future. “I don’t think Leanna will be just a career person; I see her as someone who ministers in the refugee community.”
Summers shares advice.
When asked about what advice Summers had for people considering a master’s degree, she shared that success would take both time and discipline. If a student wants a master’s degree to get into a new area of interest, Summers suggests they talk with professionals in the field to understand what skills are in-demand. She also advises talking with program professors to understand the program of interest and how to make it work with life commitments.
About Compassion International
Compassion International is a child-advocacy ministry that pairs compassionate people with those who are suffering from poverty. The ministry releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. The goal is for each child to become a responsible and fulfilled adult.
Compassion Magazine is published in print, online, iPad and iPhone versions. Check out the online version at compassion.com/magazine; the iPad and iPhone versions can be found in the App Store by searching “Compassion Magazine.” Compassion Explorer Magazine is available in print and online versions. Go to compassion.com/explorer to check out the online version.
Leanna Summers is the editor-in-chief of Compassion Magazine and Compassion Explorer Magazine. She lives in Colorado and travels abroad to capture and report on stories for the magazines she manages.
Paul Moede is the director of global communications at Compassion International. He lives in Colorado with his wife of more than 35 years. Together they share three sons and three grandchildren. In his free time, Moede enjoys taking advantage of Colorado’s hiking and biking opportunities.