‘Do No Harm, Do Good and Stay in Love with God’

Lauren RichardNew director shares what the future holds for Project Transformation North Texas

Lauren Richard’s professional expertise is deeply rooted in the nonprofit space … something that will be beneficial in her new role as executive director of Project Transformation North Texas.

Since its founding in 1998, Project Transformation has addressed three unique challenges with one program: 1) how to meet the academic, physical, social-emotional and spiritual needs of children from low-income communities; 2) how to provide meaningful ways for college-age adults to explore ministry opportunities and develop as young principled leaders for the church and the world; and 3) how to help revitalize churches in underserved communities.

Richard sat down with the North Texas Conference to share her vision for Project Transformation North Texas.

Please tell us about your background and what drew you to service, broadly and specifically, at Project Transformation North Texas.

I have spent the past 14 years working in the Dallas nonprofit sector with the goal of improving outcomes for children, youth and families. Prior to joining Project Transformation, I served in various executive leadership roles at Momentous Institute, The Family Place and New Friends New Life.

By walking alongside our neighbors from under-resourced communities, I have seen the amazing progress that is made when we can help broaden their sense of what is possible in their lives, particularly in the areas of education and social emotional development. When we couple this with the opportunity to engage young adults in ministry and service with these communities, we are also broadening their sense of what is possible for their own futures. This approach creates intentional, mutually-enriching relationships that create sustainable growth and transformation. I could not pass up the opportunity to be part of something this special!

In your mind, how does an investment in what Project Transformation offers – be it volunteerism or financial – enhance the community’s well-being?

Project Transformation is truly unique. While there are other organizations that focus on afterschool and summer programming for children and youth and still others that focus on developing next generation leadership to carry forward this critical community-based work, no other organization is tackling both issues through the same robust program, one that is rooted in the grounding principles of The United Methodist Church.

By investing in Project Transformation, you are investing in (1) changing the odds for kids, (2) developing much-needed community leaders, and (3) connecting churches to their communities – all at the same time. That's a pretty impressive return on investment whether you are investing your time or money. The community benefits when ALL of its members – children and young adults, clergy and laypeople, nonprofits and corporations – come together in radical kinship to improve conditions for all, toward the greater good.

In what areas do you see opportunities for Project Transformation to further extend its outreach and impact?

Building on the groundbreaking work of the past 20 years, Project Transformation North Texas is well-positioned to expand its reach and further solidify the level of impact we make in the lives of the children, youth and families we serve. As with everything we do, we are being intentional with our expansion decisions to ensure they are sustainable and can be implemented with fidelity. We are also currently conducting a quasi-experimental design to demonstrate the impact of our work and look forward to sharing those findings with our stakeholders soon.

What is something about Project Transformation that the public may not know, but should?

The community should know that Project Transformation is first and foremost a ministry of The United Methodist Church, one that maintains a specific lens on how we carry out our work. We approach our mission from a strengths-based perspective that focuses on a growth mindset, grace and humility, and social justice. Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God – these are the guiding principles that inform everything we do.

What does the future hold for Project Transformation, and what recommendations do you have for those who want to get involved?

The future is very bright for Project Transformation North Texas! Our current strategic plan calls for program expansion as well as diversifying our funding to ensure a well-rounded base of support for our work. We are always looking for mission-driven volunteers and donors without whom we could not do this work.

For those interested in joining the “PT Family,” please contact Lynne Rhodes, Volunteer and Partner Church Engagement Manager, at 214-946-3600 for opportunities to get involved today!

Published: Monday, February 11, 2019