The noise of children laughing, splashing, singing, playing and praying is music to the ears of Paul Biles, executive director of Tejas Camp and Retreat Center. Biles oversees operations for the Christian facility, which serves approximately 6,000 children each summer and a total of 31,000 people throughout the year. 

“My role is coaching directors in our ministry, from facilities to discipleship to volunteers, to get them the tools they need to help their staff be successful,” said Biles, who manages 25 full-time and 15 part-time employees, plus 70 seasonal employees and a bevy of volunteers.


​It’s a challenging vocation, one that calls for spiritual wisdom as well as business management acumen. When Biles took on the role four years ago, he started reading books and taking courses on leadership. That eventually led him to the new Master of Arts in Organizational and Global Leadership program at York College Online. He was part of the first cohort to begin the program in March 2017.  

“I was interested in the Master of Arts in Organizational and Global Leadership at York College because I was looking for a more structured program to guide me. The more prepared I am, the better I can serve our staff and our guests at Tejas,” he said. One thing he appreciates about the YC program is its flexible scheduling. Asynchronous classes over eight-week periods means that students have readings and interactions with faculty and assignments, but that they can accomplish things on their own time, free of designated class time restrictions. “I don’t have a traditional work schedule, especially in the summer, and I have four kids. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time for assignments. Not having a set class time and being able to work my classes around my schedule is key.”

The 36-hour program can be completed in one year, if multiple classes are taken at once. However, most students will complete in two years, taking the eight-week courses individually. The non-thesis program includes a capstone project that provides real world experience and application to the student’s workplace. 

Biles found out about York College’s program through his experience with the California-based Christian Leadership Alliance, which offers a certification course for Christian nonprofit organization leaders. York College and CLA have recently formed a partnership so that those who hold this certification can enter the York College Master of Arts in Organizational and Global Leadership program with six credit hours already on their transcript. 

“We see this as a very beneficial partnership,” said Kirk Mallette, dean of graduate and online studies. “We are offering their students an extension of their learning and the opportunity to earn a master’s degree and the Christian Leadership Alliance is expanding the reach of York College to a global audience.” 

YC Online is also developing a partnership with Willow Creek Association, which hosts the annual Global Leadership Summit for Christian leaders. The mission of the summit is to create world-class leadership development tools and services to energize Christians and mobilize churches globally. 

“The Christian Leadership Alliance and the Willow Creek Association are committed to the mission of York College, to transform lives through Christ-centered education. We are excited that they will be sending their membership to us to further their leadership studies,” said Mallette.

Students come from all areas, from wildlife and land management, to a crisis pregnancy center, to retail. One current student is a doctor in Malaysia who wants to improve his leadership skills to better serve the staff and patients at a counseling center. “We are building leadership capacity in any organization, helping students learn how to equip teams to get the best out of people,” said Mallette. He describes the program as “rigorous and practical.”

The program’s faculty have extensive leadership experience and come from many areas of business, including technology, law enforcement, and healthcare. Dr. Nathan Mellor, CEO of C3 Brands and President of Strata Leadership, is a member of the faculty. Mellor has consulted, trained, and lectured globally on topics related to character and leadership. His clients include corporations and non-profits from across the business spectrum. 

“Students in the Master of Arts in Organizational and Global Leadership program are learning from the best and gaining experience that helps them and their organization immediately,” said Mallette.

That has been the case for Biles. “I’m enjoying it so far,” he said. “I’m gaining insights into best practices. Sometimes you don’t even know what you don’t know. This program has helped me figure out what questions to ask and where to begin…It has definitely been worth the investment.”

(Below) Children play at Camp Tejas, where Biles is executive director.