REV. ODELL CLEVELAND
Mount Zion Baptist Church (Greensboro, NC) Chief Administrative Officer
Reverend Odell Cleveland is an author that focuses his work both on the reader’s head and the reader’s heart. The three books he has authored or co-authored reflect chapters in his life that reveal lessons relevant both to individuals and to communities that are struggling with addressing social issues.
Each book draws upon his journey from tragedy to triumph stemming from the power of faith and hard work. the foundational rock of his work is his divorced single mother who suffered a massive stroke at the age of 25 and yet walked three miles with a wooden cane in her right hand and a long metal brace strapped to her leg to make sure Odell was not forced into a special-education class.
His most recent book, It’s My Turn Now, was written to answer the question “What will you do, when life tapes you on the shoulder and whispers, it’s your turn now? Using experiences gained through building Caregiver connect, Inc., he speaks to others in the “sandwich generation” with both an inspirational message and practical advice that addresses the family dynamics of caregiving, with the goal of helping families navigate the rough water of caring for their love ones.
Odells first book, Pracademics and Community Change: A True Story of nonprofit Development and Social Entrepreneurship during Welfare Reform, co-authored with Dr. Robert Wineburg, is based on his experience establishing and growing America’s first faith-based community action agency. What started out in a church side annex grew into a $100 million nonprofit organization, effecting thousands of lives. This solution driven self-sufficiency program, assembled on the platforms of employment training and the distribution of donated products, was heralded as pioneering model by President Obama’s office of Faith-Based and neighborhood partnerships.
Odell built on his interest in leadership for his second book. Born To Be a Coach. While the subject of the book is Basketball Coach Jerry Waters, the real lessons revealed in the book are about leadership. While Odell was a talented athlete for the USC-Upsteate team, he learned that not only talent, but effective leadership, is required to obtain results. Odell uses his decades of leadership experience to draw out lessons that transcend the basketball court.
Woven throughout his work is Odell’s passion for creating common ground. His decades of experience in business and nonprofit agency leadership, as well as expertise related to addressing tough societal issues, provides him with a unique prospective on working with others to find common ground, always focusing on positive outcomes.
Odell pursues his many interests in a variety of ways. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of Greensboro, Nc’s 6,000-member Mt, Zion Baptist Church. He is president of CAl Tee Solutions LLC, which for the past decade has served as a conduit for business solutions to social ills. He is a frequent keynote speaker at faith-based and community workshops. and conferences. His advice is sought by community and political leaders and, as President of Weathervane Political Analytics, LLC, he uses his decades of experience to advise and guide public leaders in order to connect diverse publics and achieve success around “common ground”.
Odell has shared his insights on C-Span, with think tanks such as the Urban Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, as well as with educational institutions such as Duke University and UNC Greensboro. Politicians from both sides of the aisle, such as former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the late Congressman Elijah Cummings has sought his advice on issues such as welfare reform and employment training.