GAMBIER, Ohio — Jennifer C. Odenweller, director of the Office for Community Partnerships at Kenyon College, has been named the director of The Ariel Foundation, effective March 1, 2018. Odenweller replaces Jan Reynolds, who has served as director of The Ariel Foundation since 2010 and who will remain vice president of its board of directors.
As director, Odenweller will manage The Ariel Foundation’s process of awarding grants; support the Board of Directors; and maintain a significant level of community involvement.
“It has been an honor to assist Karen Buchwald Wright in her philanthropic vision and incredible generosity for the community of Mount Vernon,” Reynolds said. “The building of relationships and partnerships for the good of the community has been fulfilling not only professionally but personally. I have profound respect and fondness for the many individuals and organizations doing great work to make our community the best it can be.”
“This is the right time to turn the directorship over to Jen,” Reynolds added. “I join the community in the anticipation and excitement of what Jen’s experience, leadership and vision will bring to The Ariel Foundation, our grantees, and the community.”
Odenweller became Kenyon’s director of the Office for Community Partnerships in 2015. As director, she helped establish the new office and oversaw its move into the newly renovated Wright Center in downtown Mount Vernon. Odenweller worked to strengthen ties between the Knox County community and Kenyon, advancing opportunities for Kenyon students to engage with their surrounding county and apply their academic knowledge to real-world community challenges. Odenweller’s last day with the College will be Feb. 28.
Kenyon College President Sean Decatur praised Odenweller’s dedication to cultivating pathways between Kenyon and the Knox County community. “For years, Jen has championed her community, first at United Way and later through her work at Kenyon, enriching both the lives of Knox County residents as well as the educational experiences of scores of students,” he said. “Through her leadership of Kenyon’s Office for Community Partnerships, she has built a foundation for meaningful community collaboration that Kenyon hopes to continue for decades to come. We will miss her greatly and wish her well in her new role.”
“I am grateful to have been a part of developing a Mount Vernon-based office for Kenyon, built upon the understanding that relationships must be respectful and mutually beneficial; that there are many different keepers of knowledge within the larger community; and that the fabric of community life is strengthened when students are challenged to identify ways in which they can make a difference in the lives of others,” Odenweller said. “Through the use of strong problem-solving and outstanding communication skills, Kenyon students have assumed many community-based leadership roles, leading to personal civic engagement growth, as well as much community good.”
“It is no secret that my passion is community building, and it is with much excitement that I have accepted this very special opportunity to serve the community I know and love,” Odenweller added about her new role. “What an honor it will be to do this work in support of Karen Buchwald Wright’s vision for a healthy and vibrant community.”
Prior to her work at Kenyon, Odenweller worked for 15 years as executive director of United Way of Knox County. During that time, she doubled the annual community investment campaign, to more than $1 million in 2014, and united community leaders on crucial countywide issues, including health, education and economic growth. Before leading United Way of Knox County, she worked for several years in various capacities for United Way of Central Ohio in Columbus. A native of Knox County, Odenweller holds a bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University and currently resides in Mount Vernon with her husband, Marc Odenweller, the finance director of the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County.
The Ariel Foundation supports people and projects focused on improving the quality of life in the Mount Vernon, Ohio, area. The Foundation was started by philanthropist Karen Buchwald Wright as a private family foundation in 2009 and has partnered with numerous organizations across Knox County, including United Way of Knox County, Knox County Head Start and YMCA of Mount Vernon. For more information, visit www.ariel-foundation.org.
Kenyon College is a highly selective, private liberal arts institution with a high-achieving student enrollment of about 1,650. Founded in 1824, Kenyon is the oldest private college in Ohio and is widely known for its excellent teaching faculty and close collaboration among faculty and students. For more information on Kenyon College, visit www.kenyon.edu.