About GLI

Grace Leadership Institute

Leadership Matters. Our Region Matters.

We believe when a leader gets better, everyone wins. When one of us rises, we all rise. That’s the heart of the Grace Leadership Institute. When we talk to local community leaders, we hear different versions of the same thing, “I wish we had trusted, quality, local training at free and affordable prices for the people in our organization.” We want to be a resource and encouragement to the leaders in our region who are making a difference.

A Unique History

Grace Leadership Institute is found at 701 Holland Street. The site and building have both religious and historical significance. The property was purchased in 1897 by the Swedish Baptist Church. The existing house was removed, and a red brick gothic-style church was erected in 1906. In 1939 the name was changed to Grace Baptist Church and services were changed to be held in English so that more effective outreach would occur. The church relocated to 38th and Colonial in 1959 to further enhance outreach, and the property at 701 Holland passed through several hands.  

Erie Insurance (ERIE) acquired the 701-703 Holland Street parcel in October 2016 after Lake Erie Ballet moved to its new location. From October 2017 to June 2019, ERIE leased the property to Grace Church. As part of the lease agreement, Grace Church renovated the building over a nearly two-year period. When exterior work was completed in the summer of 2019, ERIE gifted the building back to Grace Church.

“Grace Ministries has brought this building back to life and will be putting it to great use as the Grace Leadership Institute,” said Jeff Brinling, ERIE’s senior vice president for Corporate Services. 

The Grace Leadership Institute exists to provide experiential leadership education that inspires people to enrich and serve their communities.

Our Branches

Take a class

School of Ministry

Credit-level graduate and undergraduate equivalent programs with experiential learning application.

Take a class

Leadership Development Center

Personal leadership training and development through courses, certificates, workshops, and a lecture series.

Take a class

Regional Church Collaborative

Creating space for church leaders and ministry colleagues to build relationships and share their resources and knowledge. 

Our Leadership

Meet our amazing and dedicated team.

Melanie Deppen, MBA

Melanie Deppen, MBA

Executive Director

Parris Baker, PhD

Parris Baker, PhD

Lead, Regional Church Collaborative

Pastor Derek Sanford, MA

Pastor Derek Sanford, MA


William Hunter, PhD

William Hunter, PhD

Lead, School of Ministry

I’m a Ministry Leader or Volunteer

Programs and events to help ministry leaders and volunteers reach their full leadership potential.

I’m a Pastor

Creating a collaborative environment to connect church pastors, staff members, and volunteer ministry leaders.

I’m a Business or Organization Leader

Programs and events to help business and organization leaders reach their full leadership potential.

I’m just Looking for Leadership Training

Programs and events to help any current or aspiring leader reach their full leadership potential.

Regional Church Collaborative