January 22, 2008
Nancy Oelklaus is a catalyst for change. As an executive coach and author, she thrives in discovering what makes people tick – unlocking the secrets of the brain. Her fascination began early in her career as assistant superintendent for instructional services in Marshall, Texas.
“First I became curious about why it took so long for people to change, even when we hired the best consultants in the world and conducted training according to the latest research,” Oelklaus said. “How could we accelerate adult learning and change?”
After graduating from OBU in 1965 with a degree in communications/theater education, the former Nancy Eubanks earned a master’s degree in English from the University of North Texas and a doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. While on a career path to improve teaching and learning, she received a career-changing phone call from a colleague concerning a new study about the brain.
“Her words hit me right between the eyes, and I realized I had a lot to learn,” Oelklaus said. “So I got busy. What I’m most interested in is research on the emotional brain – how powerful it is.”
A highlight of her career is Project ABCD (Alternative Blueprint for Curriculum Development). Oelklaus worked in a collaborative effort with many school districts to pool human resources to write the best curriculum possible, reflecting the latest research and best practice.
“The year was 1991, just as the technology revolution was getting underway, and we decided to house the curriculum in software,” Oelklaus recalled. “I thought I had designed a process for curriculum development, and it turned out to be a great process for professional development.”
Today, Oelklaus uses her foundation in learning as an executive coach. She created The Success Accelerator® model of executive coaching to transform relationships and facilitate success. Her first book, Journey from Head to Heart: Living and Working Authentically, is scheduled for release in March 2008. The book “is for the weary and wary – people who are weary of ego-driven lives yet wary of ‘New Age’ approaches,” she said. The work integrates logic, reason, emotion, spirituality, Christianity, science and ancient wisdom to create what she describes as “the possibility of wholeness.”
Oelklaus says the communication skills she learned at OBU have served her – and continue to serve her – extremely well. She recalls that professor Gregory Pritchard, through his rigor and encouragement, taught her to believe in herself. She also credits the literature studies on Bison Hill as a training ground for her current work.
“The literature studies that began at OBU developed my ability to find themes in human behavior within systems and follow the theme until I find the meaning,” she says. “Then I work with people to change the patterns that are not useful and strengthen those that are.”