Kirsten Brandt James, brings over 25 years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience to Project Transformation North Texas. Most recently, Kirsten served as the Chief Development Officer of 29 Acres working directly with the founders to raise start-up funds and build organizational infrastructure for the new supportive living community for adults with autism in Denton County. She previously served as Executive Director of Alley’s House helping teen mothers complete their education and learn life skills. For 22 years, Kirsten was the Executive Director of Junior Players and oversaw exponential growth for the arts education agency as it grew to serve thousands of youth with free arts programs throughout North Texas. Kirsten is passionate about access and opportunity for all youth.
A long-time member of Northaven UMC, she is thrilled to join the Project Transformation North Texas team and lead change through mission and service. She has previously served as President of the Austin College Alumni Board as well as Wallace Elementary PTA. She holds degrees in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin Madison and Austin College. Kirsten has been recognized with the Altrusa Richardson Outstanding Woman of Today Award and the Dallas Women’s Council Individual Member Award. Kirsten is married to Tim James and they have 17 year old boy/girl twins who are seniors at Lake Highlands High School. They also have two adult sons who are both married and have a total of five grandchildren.
Elspeth is a proud Project Transformation alumna, serving in 2007-2008 fresh out of college as a PT Corps Member at Casa Linda United Methodist Church. Project Transformation was the catalyst to her career focus in nonprofits as well as urban ministry. She followed her call to serve in nonprofits, both public and/or faith-based, that positively and systemically impact urban communities, such as: Salvation Army, Irving Schools Foundation, Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, Perkins Youth School of Theology, Tyler Street United Methodist Church, and more. She loves gathering and presenting information that connects, informs, inspires, and rallies others to action. In faith-based settings, it brings her the deepest joy to help others learn how to use the tools of the faith to grow spiritually and be active members of the body of Christ.
Elspeth received her BA in Religion from Texas Christian University with an English and Spanish Double Minor, then later earned a Master's in Church Ministry, Urban Ministry Focus, from Southern Methodist University. She grew up in Irving and Oak Cliff Texas, and she knows these very factors were pivotal in discerning and living out her calling to partner in urban communities. She is a native Texan, proud TCU Horned Frog, Spanglish speaker, and theology nerd. She loves great food and going on adventures with her husband. She has traveled to Europe and also studied there, and partnered in Missions in Mexico as well as South America. Although sitting still isn’t one of her strong suits, she loves being active right where she is at in her home community.
Before first joining Project Transformation North Texas in 2014, Kelsey worked for Reading Partners where she recruited community members to serve as volunteer tutors in under-resourced schools in Dallas. As a volunteer tutor herself, she witnessed firsthand how a student who was once struggling could transform into a proud, confident reader. And as an advocate for early childhood education, she is adamant that reading is fundamental to every child’s academic success.
She has over 7 years of experience and a successful track record in development and community engagement within the nonprofit sector. She is passionate about connecting communities, developing creative, mutually beneficial business, but most of all, community service.
Kelsey received her Bachelor’s Degree in News-Editorial Journalism from Texas Tech University and her Master’s Degree in International Journalism with a concentration in Political Science from Baylor University. Her self-directed master’s program enabled her to volunteer at Dress for Success in Austin and serve with Teach Beyond in Germany were she helped facilitate a summer camp for German youth.
If she doesn’t have her nose in a book, you can most likely find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and daughters, Isla and Novi.
LaDonna grew up in Marshall, Texas, and was raised in the Methodist church at both Ebenezer and Zion United Methodist. LaDonna is a third generation Wiley College graduate, where she received a BA in Criminal Justice, with a minor in Sociology. After working at Wiley College for three years as the Student Activities Director, LaDonna enrolled at Oklahoma City University and received her Master of Education in Applied Behavioral Studies with a focus in Counseling. Soon after completion of graduate school, LaDonna returned to Wiley College to transform the student life of the campus. During this time she worked as the Counseling and Career Planning Director, quickly becoming the director for Student Development, which governed Student Activities, Student Government Association, Greek Life, community service, and Student Leadership programming. LaDonna also, serves as the Vice President for her chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is a lay speaker at Ebenezer United Methodist Church.
LaDonna comes to Project Transformation with a servant’s heart, a commitment to excellence in youth leadership and development, and her passion for Christian education in the United Methodist Church. She enjoys reading, traveling, shopping with her mom, fishing with her dad, and singing with her family cover band.
Marcos is a recent graduate from The University of North Texas, graduating in May 2019. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Science with concentrations in English, Sociology and Educational Studies. Marcos has the unique experience of participating in Project Transformation’s Summer Program as a child, attending Elmwood-El Buen Samaritano UMC from grades 3rd – 4th. Since 2015, Marcos has served with Project Transformation North Texas in various program roles and at different site locations. Some of these roles included Youth PT Corps Member at Casa Linda UMC in 2015, Youth PT Corps Member at Christ’s Foundry UMC in 2016, Site Coordinator at Chapel Hill in 2017, and Spring/Summer Program Quality Coach in 2019. He is passionate about helping the community and those who are in need. During his free time, he enjoys playing sports, listening to music, and taking pictures.
Andrea served as a PT Corps member, Reading Coordinator and Site Coordinator from 2011-2014 and then as a Program Quality Coach in the summer of 2015. During her time as a PT Corps member she experienced the impact Project Transformation has on the children, churches and young adults that she served alongside. She is thrilled to be able to support PT North Texas as a staff member and is excited to continue to grow the PT legacy!
Andrea received her bachelor’s degree in Development & Family Studies at the University of North Texas (Go Mean Green!) and minored in Psychology. She is active in the Dallas community and is involved with Union Coffee’s ministries and Capes 4 Kids DFW. Andrea is an avid soccer fan and supports the U.S. Women’s National Team, U.S. Men’s National Team and FC Dallas! In her spare time, she enjoys running, finding new local spots, traveling and spending time with friends, family and her dog Austin and attends soccer games as often as she can!
Janina Irving comes to us with a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in International Studies. Her life’s motto is, “to make life a little better for someone else.” She has spent her entire career living up to this motto by advocating for individuals that face adverse challenges including victims of abuse, those in poverty, and other vulnerable populations.
Her twin passions include Education and Social Justice/Social Services. In the Education sector, she has always loved the "aha" moments when students that she has tutored or taught finally grasp a particular difficult concept. She also enjoys training and seeing how individuals apply the concepts of a training to enhance their life.
In the Social Justice and Social Services realm, she worked as a foster care case manager and intake specialist for 5 years-advocating and fighting for kids that would otherwise be lost in the foster care system across the Dallas/Fort Worth DFW Region. She then took her advocacy skills to southeast Texas to work as Executive Director of an anti-trafficking agency from 2021-2023, prior to returning to her home in DFW and joining PT North Texas.
Janina enjoys reading and traveling both domestically and internationally. She loves activities such as skiing, hiking and bowling, though she will neither confirm nor deny her skills in any of the above areas.
Above all, she has a servant's heart and loves to serve.
Briana first came to PT at 14 years old, introduced by her grandma who was the cook at former site Oak Cliff UMC. She fell in love with the program by high school, learning and experiencing that with intentionality and an open heart, transformation does happen through relationships. Eventually returning to become a member she experienced challenges, growth, and so much joy. She couldn't stay away. Today she is beyond grateful and excited to connect with and serve alongside the amazing people that make up PTNT including the staff, members, families, and churches. Briana looks forward to more growth and more transformation.
Erin joined the staff in September of 2018 as the National Leadership Fellow working on alumni engagement. She became a permanent staff member in September 2019 when she was hired as Development Coordinator. She graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Strategic Communication. Formerly she served with Project Transformation North Texas in the summers of 2017 and 2018, first as a Volunteer Coordinator and then as a Site Coordinator. She first became acquainted with Project Transformation in her middle school years, volunteering with her church in the reading program. She is committed to the work of this organization and hopes to grow in service alongside others to make Dallas an even better place. Erin's loves include photography, traveling, trying new food all around Dallas, and playing with her cat, Rosie.
Candis graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from California Polytechnic University, Pomona. After college, she spent some time working as a Kindergarten Aide and AVID tutor in various school districts. Originally from Ontario, California–she moved to Texas in August 2021 where she served as a Program Coordinator and Site Coordinator for different nonprofit organizations. She wholeheartedly believes that the relationships and connections a child forms during their youth directly impacts the choices and decisions they make in adulthood. She wants to focus on fostering youth as a whole and interacting with them in a constructive way so that they feel their voices are listened to, acknowledged, and heard. At Project Transformation, she is excited to work with schools, teachers, parents, churches, and the community to ensure that the specific needs of all children are met in a way that also contributes to their overall social and emotional development in a positive way. Ultimately her goal is to create a safe, comfortable environment that fosters learning for all students while advocating on a community level to combat educational inequities specifically within that city. In her free time, Candis enjoys trying new restaurants, going to live music shows, and exploring the city of Dallas!
Jonathon brought his decade of nonprofit experience to Project Transformation in November 2022. Over the course of his career, he has spent time recruiting and training volunteers, planning events, managing offices, fundraising, bookkeeping, and generally putting out fires as necessary. Most recently, he was the Operations & Development Manager for Volunteers In Public Schools in Baton Rouge, LA for over 8 years. After 17 years in Louisiana, Jonathon decided that he was ready to bring the skills and passions he developed there to support his home area in North Central Texas. While Jonathon has worked for and supported many nonprofits over the years, programs that support the academic and personal development of under-resourced youth are his greatest passion.
While not raised in the Methodist Church, Jonathon became familiar with its teachings through his time at Centenary College and as a member of the Centenary College Choir. His claim to fame is that he is the reason that there is now a prerequisite to enroll in the choral conducting class at Centenary. He received a BA in English in 2009, and earned his MA in English in 2011 from Louisiana Tech University. His hobbies include cooking, sewing, embroidery, crafting, playing video games, and info-dumping on whatever is his newest obsession. When not working in the office or on his hobbies, he can be found spending time with his family, especially his adorable nephews.