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Joan Dixon honored with 2008 Dyer Distinguished Alumni Award

By BYU Marriott School

The Marriott School of Management’s Department of Organizational Leadership and Strategy presented Joan Dixon with the 2008 William G. Dyer Distinguished Alumni Award. The Dyer Award is presented annually to an alumnus or alumna who makes a significant contribution in the field of organizational behavior.

“Joan’s contributions in the area of addressing issues of poverty and literacy and working internationally with non-governmental organizations are amazing,” says Kate Kirkham, Organizational Behavior and Human Resources faculty group leader. “She has an excellent reputation among people who work in community development and adult education and has been instrumental in developing local, national and international programs.”

Dixon is an adjunct faculty member at the Marriott School and serves as the practitioner network director for the BYU Economic Self-Reliance Center. She has worked extensively with developing countries as a consultant on adult education and other projects to alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life for millions.

“Poverty is complex,” Dixon said at the banquet in her honor. “It cannot be solved by any one discipline by itself. It cannot be solved until we have the courage and skill to redesign our economic and social systems. I’m just beginning to build my network of people who can help me figure this out.”

Dixon’s work has taken her to Nepal, West Africa and Indonesia. She specializes in leading cross-functional teams to address the complex problems facing Third World countries.

While serving as a missionary in Thailand, Dixon spent some of her time helping refugees from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. She said this experience redirected her career aspirations from education to a broader emphasis on changing and improving societies. She earned her master’s degree in organizational behavior at BYU and a doctorate in international development education at the University of Massachusetts.

“I am grateful that I discovered in my wanderings the most important rule for change agents: you have to allow yourself to change first, by giving up what you think you love in order to find the better plan,” she said.

Now in its 12th year, the Dyer Award is named after William G. Dyer, the first chair of the Department of Organizational Behavior at BYU. Dyer was a faculty member for more than 35 years and served as dean of the Marriott School from 1979 to 1984.

Writer: Arie Dekker


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