Celebrating 20 Years

Celebrating 20 Years

For the past 20 years DAI has had the pleasure of walking with over 100,000 Christian leaders through their leadership development journey. Because of the investment of time, prayer and financial gifts from committed donors and staff we have seen countless lives and leadership practices transformed, which has positively impacted families, ministries and communities.




In 1990, two distinguished professors believed they could make a difference in the lives and ministries of key leaders in the Majority World. Together, they founded The Center for Organizational Excellence at Eastern College. Their dream was to enhance the integrity and effectiveness of Christian leaders worldwide.

Dr. James F. Engel taught at Wheaton College for 18 years. Beside a highly successful secular career in marketing research, he served as a trainer and consultant to over 250 Christian organizations in 60 countries. In spite of all his success, a passion continued to burn in Dr. Engel to do more.

Dr. David Fraser
Left to right: Dr. David Fraser, Dr. James F Engel, Jane Overstreet

Meanwhile, Dr. David Fraser had gained significant exposure to leaders at the grass roots level, serving as a member of the senior staff of the MARC Division of World Vision International with responsibilities for Unreached Peoples. He had also served with the Mission Training and Resource Center for three years, helping to develop curricula and training models. Having taught in more than 15 countries he also carried a passion for effective leadership development.

Together the two undertook nearly three additional years of research in various parts of the world to identify key areas of need that would have to be addressed for Christian leaders in the majority world to be effective and positively impact their communities.

Over the next five years the curriculum was created, field-tested, modified, and retested. Methods of distribution were tried and evaluated. It began to become clear that interactive, story-based learning focused on asking the leader questions and requiring application enabled leaders to change. This method put the focus on learning and transformation of the leader and his leadership practices. Staff and volunteers were recruited, including men and women with expertise in the most critical fields, and the ministry began to expand. The organization incorporated as its own 501(c)3 corporation to enable growth and changed the name to Development Associates International (DAI) in 1996.


We are full of joy and amazement for what God has done and look forward to celebrating and reflecting on 20 years in ministry together throughout 2016.  As we enter into our 20th year we are excited to unveil a newly refreshed brand we hope God will use to help us continue to impact Christian leaders worldwide.  Learn more about DAI’s brand refresh. 

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