Virginia Swain

Social entrepreneur, organization development specialist, spiritual director, facilitator, leadership trainer, author, educator, mediator and master coach — Quaker Virginia Swain draws on her diverse background and experience: being a human resource manager at a Fortune 500 company; a marketing and public relations manager in both corporate and nonprofit organizations and 25 years as a leadership consultant on five continents. Virginia has developed, trained and coached emerging and seasoned professionals in Reconciliation Leadership over 30 years at the United Nations in New York. Virginia is committed to restoring faith in leadership and in America. Many of her clients begin with Virginia in career and life direction. For a longer biographical note, click here. Download Virginia’s CV here.

Shortly after she was in New York during the World Trade Center attacks, she founded the Institute for Global Leadership to provide training and coaching for leaders and teams to adapt to the changed dynamics of our post-September 11th world. Together with her husband, Joseph Baratta, Ph.D., she is also the co-founder of the Center for Global Community and World Law, a think tank for UN policy and practice, formerly in ECOSOC consultative status at the United Nations.

With international experience on five continents as varied as serving in the United States Peace Corps teaching in Africa and the United Nations community, Virginia Swain is the founder and director of the Institute for Global Leadership with expertise in global governance, the process by which humanity is evolving to political union.

Virginia has served as a United Nations non-governmental organization representative and citizen diplomat since 1991. She gave seminars at both the Earth and Social Summits in Brazil and Denmark in addition to assisting in the preparations for the UN Beijing Women’s Summit, the United States Committee for the United Nations Habitat for Humanity Conference, and the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For four years, Virginia served on the Executive Committee of the Boston Coalition for a Strong United Nations and is the former co-chair of its International Business Task Force, which worked closely with former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to start the UN Global Compact. 

She highlights Global Movement for a Culture of Peace and global citizenship to others in her television show, “Imagine Worcester and the World,” which debuted in 2007.  View a segment with the presentation of Institute for Global Leadership Life Leadership Service Awards in 2013. The Life Leadership Service Award is given every five years to emerging and seasoned leaders at the United Nations and beyond.

Virginia has written two memoirs, A Mantle of Roses: A Woman’s Journey Home to Peace (Xlibris, 2004), and My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership: A New Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11 (Xlibris, 2017) and maintains a blog at Virginia has contributed to many other books.

Pictured below with Virginia Swain is Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations. Ambassador Chowdhury provided support at the United Nations for the Institute courses and programs, dedicating them to the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010) and The Global Movement for a Culture of Peace (GMCoP)  Ambassador Chowdhury wrote the foreword for her latest book.

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury and Virginia Swain at the United Nations in New York

For bringing intercultural understanding to Worcester, Massachusetts, and to the United Nations, Virginia was awarded the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Third Goal Service Award.  

Virginia is committed to gathering and mobilizing like-minded people in a shared vision for sustainable peace and development. In recent years, her research and practice interest has included Security Council Resolution 1325: Women and Peace and Security, the Sudan Track II Peace Process and the Coalition for the Human Right to Peace. In 2020, her work supports the UN Secretary-General on the Covid19 Global Ceasefire.

For bringing intercultural understanding to Worcester, Massachusetts, and to the United Nations, Virginia was awarded the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Third Goal Service Award.  She has been funded by various foundations to support her leadership and peacebuilding work in the Philippines, with Rwandans and former Yugoslavians, her participation in the Hague Appeal for Peace, the State of the World Forum, the UN NGO Millennium Forum, and lobbying states for peace and disarmament issues. She has been active in the United Nations Global Compact and the Academic Council for the United Nations, and has presented at conferences such as the Annual Meeting of the Academic Council of the UN, the State of the World Forum, International Educators for Peace, the Comparative International Education Society, Global Education Associates, Global Structures Conference, and the United Nations Development Programme.

Learn more about this work in an interview on Imagine Worcester and the World.”, the television show Virginia created.

Since 1999, she has created the Reconciliation Service model, beginning with the leader’s personal mission as a foundation upon which to learn four levels of competencies: personal, interpersonal, systemic and global. Leaders are provided with a toolbox to facilitate reconciliation interventions in community, organizational, national and global settings. Reconciliation Leaders arose out of Virginia’s spiritual and professional journey over 25 years in the United Nations as her mentor and teacher, Dr. Elise Boulding attests:

“We have much to learn from each other about how we have traveled–and sometimes travailed–through our life journeys. Virginia Swain’s development through time as a peacemaker and a compassionate human being will be inspiring and helpful to many.  Her sense of calling is very strong and rightly guided. I have been very interested in how Virginia’s innovative approach to leadership and peacebuilding in highly stressful conflicts has risen from her life journey.  The Reconciliation Leadership Certificate Programme and Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service are important contributions to the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace at the United Nations.”

—Elise Boulding, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Dartmouth College; Former Secretary-General, International Peace Research Association, Nominee for Nobel Peace Prize

An adjunct faculty member at Clark University, Baypath College, Quinsigamond Community College, Lesley University and Salve Regina University, Virginia has taught courses on career development, leadership, cross-cultural conflict transformation, change management, and managing in a global economy, and developed a customized leadership curriculum, Reconciliation Leadership, implemented in the United Nations.

Virginia earned an organization development master’s degree from Lesley University in Community Building in Organizations and International Peacebuilding and has advanced certifications from the Academy for Leaders, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University in Ethnic Identity Consultation, Skills for the Religious Peacebuilder, and Consulting in Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation. She also holds certificates in leadership agility, professional holistic counseling, mediation, spiritual direction, Reiki Advanced Energy Healing, Myers-Briggs team building, and parent effectiveness coaching. As an interfaith marriage officiant, Virginia prepares couples for marriage. The Institute is a member of the Transcend Network of Invited Peace Scholars and Practitioners.

One of Virginia’s peacebuilding professors, Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, writes:

“Virginia’s life journey reflects the pressing need for all of us to reexamine our deeply held assumptions about the meaning of effective leadership, the role of peacemakers in violent and nonviolent conflict zones, and the meaning of spirituality and its link to building peace individually and collectively. Her life can inspire us in how to overcome our struggle to build and sustain difficult relationships, especially within the context of international and intergovernmental organizations that tend to resist transformative change. Virginia’s message of practicing love and compassion is crucial to effectively meet the challenges we face.” 

-—Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Professor of Peace and Conflict Resolution, American University, Washington DC

In 2022-2023, Virginia began a succession planning journey to with the Quakers when she turned 80. She hopes to leave her ministry with New England Yearly Meeting and beyond. New England Yearly Meeting collaborated on a pilot program in Reconciliation Leadership from September 2023-March 2024/ A full program is planned for 2025-2026. An Introductory workshop can be seen here.


History of Virginia Swain’s Presentations and Practice