Avis Blake-Thomas, B.S., M.A.C.E
Avis Blake-Thomas is Co-Founder, Board President and CEO. She has a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary. Avis worked at DHL Express for 24 years before retiring in 2009, where she held several positions of increasing responsibility, including her last position as Software Development Manager. In that position, she was responsible for a multimillion dollar budget, led the development of software used by DHL’s customer base worldwide, and managed a team of business system analysts, software developers, and quality assurance testers.
In 2009, Avis served in a volunteer capacity with Inspire Women Inc., a Houston, TX based non-profit that provides scholarships to women in ministry for education or missionary service. At Inspire Women she was the Scholarship and Events Coordinator, and was responsible for the planning and marketing of its annual citywide conference. In 2013 Avis rejoined Inspire Women to teach their monthly Bible study to women in ministry and leadership across the city of Houston. Avis served on the board of To Raise A Child, a Houston, TX based non-profit that is dedicated to ensuring children in at-risk environments have access to early childhood education. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and served on the leadership committee for Young Life South Central Houston. Avis is a licensed and ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tina Brown, B.S., M.B.A., M.A./M.A.C.E
Co-Founder / Vice-President of Academic Affairs
Dr. Willie Bolden serves as the Board Vice-President. He earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Southwestern Theological Seminary in 2006, a Master of Arts in Theological Education from Talbot Theological Seminary in 1992 and a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education from Biola University in 1979. Presently he is the Executive Director of Church and Community Relations at the Dallas Theological Seminary Houston Campus. Dr. Bolden has served as the lead pastor of four churches, two in Southern California, one in Dallas, Texas and one in DeSoto Texas.
Willie Bolden, B.S., M.A., D.Min.
Board Vice-President/Instructor/Curriculum Development
Tina Brown is Co-Founder, and serves as Board Secretary and as the OBA Executive Vice President. She is a retired Naval Reserve officer and currently works as a Chief Technology Officer for a Houston Oil services company. She has a B.A. in Adult Education, an MBA, and a M.A./Christian Education. Tina and her husband, Eric, are adventurous and have lived in a variety of places over the years. This has resulted in Tina serving in many ministries such as children’s ministry, small group ministry, online learning ministry, and adult education ministry. Most recently, Tina served for four years as the Dallas Theological Seminary Spiritual Formation (SF) Coordinator at the Houston campus assisting in the development and continuity of the SF Program. Tina is the proud mom of a son currently serving in the US Navy.
Al Thomas, B.S.
Board Treasurer / CFO
Al Thomas serves as Board Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer. He is a graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Business Administration. He has nearly 30 years of experience working in both the “Upstream and Downstream” segments of the Oil and Gas industry. He is currently a Corporate Level Manager and leads the Joint Venture and General Accounting functional areas. He is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia and has resided in Houston, TX for the past 30 years. He is a member of Wheeler Avenue Baptist church where over the past 20 years he has grown tremendously as a disciple of Jesus Christ where he serves as a deacon. Al's gifting is primarily in the areas of “Service”, “Helps” and “Administration”. To that end, he has served in an array of Church Ministries, often in a leadership capacity. Areas of Ministry experience include: Men’s Ministry, Diaconate Ministry, Evangelism Ministry, Audio/Visual Communications Ministry, Sunday Offerings Accounting Team Ministry, Greeters and Transportation Ministry to name a few. He is member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and is a continuous supporter of Young Life South Central of Houston and Houston Habitat for Humanity.
Dr. Franklin Callaway, B.A., M.Div., D.Min.
Board Member/Instructor/Curriculum Development
Dr. Franklin Callaway has a Bachelor of Arts in Christianity and Speech from Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX, and a Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership from Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, KY. He has also studied Business Administration at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY, and Sociology and Religion at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX.
Dr. Callaway has served as Adjunct Professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Houston, TX, Senior Pastor of Truevine Missionary Baptist Church, Spring, TX, Minister of Christian Education at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Houston, TX, Interim Pastor at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, TX, Minister of Christian Education and Evangelism at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, TX, Professor and Chairman of Ministry Skills Department at the College of Biblical Studies Houston, TX, Director of Ministry of Damascus Road, Houston, TX, Associate Minister at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX, and Community Organization Director for the Fort Worth Area Council of Churches, Fort Worth, Texas. In 2013, Dr. Callaway planted a church in North Houston and is working diligently to build that church as a beacon of light for the kingdom of God. Dr. Callaway is also retired from the United States Air Force.
Diane Davis, B.S.N., M.S.N.
Coming from a Jewish background, Diane came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ by the Grace of God over 30 years ago. Now as a Health Educator and Entrepreneur, Diane is owner of Christian Strategies For Health, LLC in Houston, Texas. As a Nurse-Educator, Diane has taught health classes in under-served communities in the Houston area for many years. Prior to her retirement from a 35 year career as a Registered Nurse, she served our Veterans at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, where she also wrote and taught a nationally accepted Stroke Risk Reduction curriculum. Active in many teaching and leadership positions in civic, church and professional Nursing organizations over the years, she completed her MSN in Nursing Education as an "older" adult learner. In 2013 she was honored by the Houston Chronicle as one of the 'Top 100 Nurses in Houston'. Diane has taken her passion for presenting cutting-edge health science research, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies, and sound Biblical perspectives and created on-line courses and products for stress reduction, weight management and financial peace for Christian believers. Blessed to be the proud grandmother of a grandson who serves in Army Special Forces, and a talented granddaughter about to become a High School Senior, Diane also has an ongoing interest in assisting our at-risk youth, and serves as Board Chair for Hope For Youth, a 23 year ministry in the Houston area. Diane is a ballet & opera enthusiast, and loves to cook and entertain in her home. Come over for an eclectic meal and a great cup of coffee and you will also meet her cat, Maddy (the ultimate diva!).
London Wilson, Jr., B.B.A., M.A.
Board Member & Vice-President of Church & Community Relations
London Wilson, Jr. is a native Houstonian. He received his BBA from The University of North Texas in Marketing. He has held various sales and leadership positions at IBM, Diebold, and Lexmark International. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Just Do GOoD Foundation, a 501(c)3 entity promoting doing GOoD daily. He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership. He is a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. He is also a licensed State of Texas realtor. He enjoys his position as a 5-Star Chaplain with Marketplace Chaplain USA performing his duties in the greater Houston area.
Bob Stephens, B.S., ThM.
Board Member, Instructor and Curriculum Development
Bob earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University and worked several years in the Petrochemical Industry. He attended DTS, graduated with a Masters of Theology, and gained valuable experience pastoring a church. He is now self-employed and involved in teaching and discipling ministries in the suburbs southeast of Houston.
Pastor Juan Ayala, B.A., ThM.
Pastor Juan Ayala serves as senior pastor of Misericordia Baptist Church, in Houston, Texas. He has pastored there since 2010. Juan also served as senior pastor for Esperanza Baptist Church, Humble, Texas from 2001-2010. Juan received his Bachelors of Science from The College of Biblical Studies in Houston, TX in 2009. He received his Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2014. Juan was ordained as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ by Iglesia Bautista Fuente de Agua Viva in May of 2003.
Juan’s relationship with Jesus Christ is best captured in his own words:
“The words and works of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have transformed my life. My life is sustained through Jesus who has reconciled me to God the Father and has called me to the ministry of reconciliation. I have been called to love God, through an on going relationship, but also to serve Him by serving others. I have been called as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ to bring hope to lost people, to guide and equip those who have believed, and to build future leaders in the local church.”
Juan is married to Lucia G. Ayala and they have two children, Maribel Alyssa Ayala and Monica Melissa Ayala.
Brett Bacon, B.A., M.A.C.E. Candidate
My wife Kimberly and I live in Irving Texas and we currently serve at First Baptist Church Irving. I am a Dallas area native and had a saving encounter with Jesus Christ at the age of 8 at while attending vacation Bible School in Irving. In junior high I began to sense a call to ministry and surrendered to that call at the age of 14. I am a graduate of East Texas Baptist University with a BA degree in Christian Ministry and Psychology. My areas of focus in college were Biblical hermeneutics and exegesis, and abnormal psychology and mental illnesses. As an undergraduate I had the privilege studying the effect of personal faith on helping and serving behaviors among our ministry students. I have served as a volunteer at several churches in both the Dallas and Houston areas in Single Adult, Young Married and Senior Adult ministries as a Bible Fellowship teacher and director. Kimberly and I are both very “mission minded” and have been able to both serve on mission in Texas and abroad as well. Additionally I have been involved in process management, leadership development, and supervisory roles for several companies including AAA Texas, Best Buy and others. Kimberly and I were married in March of 2009 and she is the greatest blessing God has ever provided me.
Following a trip overseas in 2013 I felt God leading our family to begin pursuit of full-time ministry and I enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary and currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership. My great passions in ministry are the pursuit of excellence in Biblical teaching, leadership training, and fostering a lifestyle of service in the lives of those I serve beside. One of my life verses is Ezra 7:10 and am continually inspired by Ezra’s devotion to scriptural obedience and personal excellence. My hobbies include live fire cooking, writing and entertainment software.
Ross Baker, B.A., B.S., M.A.
Ross graduated from Grove City College in 1978 with a BA in History and Business with a minor in economics. He moved to Houston in 1983 with Philipp Brothers/Phibro, then worked for Mannesmann Pipe and Steel as a division manager for 14 years. Ross is owner and President of Baker Alloy & Metal, incorporated in 2001, that provides raw materials to the U.S. steel industry. He also consulted to Celtic Marine Corp. of Baton Rouge, LA, which provides third party logistics such as ocean transportation, barging, stevedoring and trucking, to many companies around the U. S. and the world; from 2001 -2015.
Ross graduated from the College of Biblical Studies (Houston, TX) in in 2009 with a BS in Biblical Counseling; and from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2014 with a MA in Biblical Studies with a concentration in the Biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek), and a Graduate Teacher Diploma from the Evangelical Training Association. Ross has served Christ, in many roles including: Senior High counselor for 30 years and Confirmation teacher for 8 years. He has also served on the Board of Stewards, Social Concerns Committee, and basketball coach for various ages. He has been a Stephen’s Minister for 16 years. He has also been on many short term mission trips to points in the U. S., Costa Rica, Russia and Kenya, leading the international trips that built and repaired homes and living quarters. Ross speaks Spanish, and also some Russian and German. He currently teaches Sunday School classes for the Harvesters class at Tallowood Baptist Church where he is also a deacon, has substitute taught at Briarmeadow Charter School for 3 years, where his son attended. Ross has been active in the Walk to Emmaus movement (Methodist off-shoot of the Cursillo community) since 1995 where he came to Christ, and has served in various capacities including Lay-Director.
He has been married to his wife, Adria, for 30 years and they have one son, Alec, who is 23 years old. Adria (Ed.D) is director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at Rice University. The Bakers joined Tallowood Baptist Church in January 2014.
Jeri Jackson, B.S.N., M.S.N., M.Div.
Jamale Kempt, B.A, M.Ed., M.Div.
The Reverend Jamale Kempt, the fifth of six children born to Mrs. Thelma Matthews, serves in ministry as the founding pastor of Calvary Christian Church in Sugar Land, Texas. A proud native Houstonian and product of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church where Reverend Dr. Marcus D. Cosby serves as senior pastor, Jamale Kempt received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and the Master of Education in Administration at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, as well as the Master of Divinity from Houston Graduate School of Theology in Houston, Texas.
Richard Klein, D.Min.
Dr. Rich Klein received his doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has also done post-doctoral study in Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Klein has thirty-eight years of pastoral experience and has also been an associate professor for twelve years. Other ministries that he has been involved in include writing, radio broadcasting, and traveling widely ministering to several varied audiences. Currently, Dr. Klein pastors a church plant, teaches Bible classes, tutors Graduate and collegiate level students, counsels, and professionally mentors several. You can contact Dr Klein at 713-933-9574 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daymond Wilkins, B.S.N., ThM.
Janella Pyles, B.A., M.S., MDiv.
Janella Pyles is one of our newest instructors at OBA. A product of the Sacramento area of Northern California, Janella Pyles was born in Tampa, Florida and raised in the church. She is passionate about the local church where she has served in a number of capacities, including ministry assignments in Christian Education, music, missions, communications, and as an executive administrator and pastoral assistant. Her mission field has also extended to Corporate America where she has worked in the healthcare, financial services, and oil and gas industries.
Janella recently completed a Master of Divinity degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia in May 2015. She also holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Regis University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism (Public Relations) from California State University, Fresno.
Reverend Daymond Wilkins is the son of Mrs. Paula Wilkins, and the late Reverend Clarence G. Wilkins. He is a native of Houston, Texas. Reverend Wilkins confessed his hope in Christ at the age of four, at the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Houston where his father served as pastor. Reverend Wilkins accepted his ministerial call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in July 2004 at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, and preached his initial sermon on September 19, 2004. Reverend Wilkins sensed and answered the call of God on his life to preach the Gospel and “serve this present age.”
Reverend Wilkins is a 1995 graduate of James Madison High School in Houston. He attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) full scholarship and received the Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1999. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy and served as a Navy Nurse. Reverend Wilkins served five years on active duty, and four years in the naval reserve.
Reverend Wilkins is employed at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital as a registered nurse. He is enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary-Houston Extension pursuing a Master of Theology, and will graduate in December 2015. Reverend Wilkins is an associate minister and member of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church. He is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.
Reverend Wilkins has been blessed to share the Word of God in numerous places throughout the United States. He desires that every time he stands to preach, that he would be hid behind cross of Christ and that Christ would be seen. A scripture that Reverend Wilkins bases his ministry on is 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV, “ But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Grace Jordan, B.A., M.A./C.E.
Creative Marketing Assistant
Grace Jordan graduates this May from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Masters in Christian Education. Grace also holds a Bachelors in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Oklahoma. Grace currently works as an advertising sales representative in the oil and gas industry, and is happy to offer her marketing background and graphic design skills to OBA.