The Rio Texas Annual Conference is pleased to announce Nathaniel O’Dell as the Executive Director of Project Transformation Rio Texas. Project Transformation is a program designed to build college-aged students (interns) into leaders by giving them the skills to run a successful literacy summer camp for elementary school students in lower income neighborhoods through a local United Methodist Church.
“Project Transformation is one program to solve three problems,” said O’Dell. “We provide ministry exploration so that interns have an opportunity to see all the different ways you can live out Christ’s calling in our life. It’s also about helping elementary school students with literacy. Summer slide is a huge issue with students’ reading ability regressing in the summer, especially in lower income areas. We are also trying to connect churches with their ministries in a new and unique way.”
O’Dell heard God’s call to Project Transformation after a mission trip to Africa in 2006 after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a Public Relations degree with a minor in Business.
“I was trying to figure out what to do with my life after graduating,” said O’Dell. “The mission trip in Africa helped refocus my attention toward being in ministry and service of some kind. I was going to go to the Peace Corps. I was all set to do that. I decided to do PT first because felt that God was saying, ‘this is what you should be doing.”
O’Dell worked as an intern for Project Transformation Dallas during the summer of 2007. He was then hired as a site coordinator for the 2007-08 school year. He was awarded the Leighton K. Farrell Award for Leadership and Vision. After Project Transformation Dallas, he worked at the Wesley Rankin Community Center as Development Associate and Director of Programs from 2008-12. O’Dell moved to Dallas Afterschool where he helped build quality afterschool programming for clients like Project Transformation.
O’Dell hopes to bring that same quality programming to summer camps in South Texas.
“My hope is to take advantage of the unique assets that San Antonio and South Texas has to offer for this first summer,” said O’Dell. “I want to eventually see this program expand to all areas in need across the conference to bring leadership development and churches together all across South Texas.”
Nathaniel and his wife, Kolette, are expecting their first son in the coming weeks. His twin sister lives in New Orleans and his other sisters and parents live in Austin and San Antonio, respectively. All of his sisters are teachers. He is currently in school to receive a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Texas at Arlington.