Rev. Donna Whitehead and her husband Don have been married for 46 years. After their wedding in November 1965, Donna joined Don in Dallas, Texas where she taught Jr. High math and English to eighth and ninth graders. After obtaining a Masters of Liberal Arts degree from Southern Methodist University (1975), she entered Perkins School of Theology where she was among the first women to be enrolled in Seminary as well as one of the first eight women to be ordained in the North Texas Conference. She graduated from Perkins with honors and began her ministry as the Associate Pastor at the newly-formed Custer Road United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas.
Donna quickly became a leader in the Plano community and served as the first woman to be chair of the Ministerial Alliance. At Custer Road she became known as a starter of new ministries, a catalyst for growth, and a strong preacher as well as pastor. In the conference she served as the first woman to be chair of the Council on Finance and Administration and thrived in her role as pioneer and trailblazer in her field.
One of her strong passions is reaching new people, and the church was listed as one of the top ten fastest growing United Methodist Churches during her tenure. She led the effort to add a worship service for the church while at the same time doubling the number of adult Sunday School classes from 22 to 45. This was one of the reasons that she taught workshops all over the country and was seen as a true expert in church growth.
In June 2000 Donna made a pastoral change and was appointed Executive Pastor for Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas. She moved from a suburban church to an urban church, from a neighborhood church to a regional church, from a new “church start” to a mature settled 55-year old church. Because she has the ability to see the Big Picture of the church along with the gift of bringing out the best in people, she soon became known as someone who could get the job done by doing whatever was necessary for the church to be a success. She excelled in growing and maturing gifted Christian leaders and growing the church’s stewardship. She also served as the first full-time director of the Lovers Lane Foundation, a time in which the assets doubled and the number of donors tripled.
Donna was featured in Unstoppable Woman: Stories of American Character from North Texas published in 1998. This book shares the stories of women who have overcome obstacles, challenges, and discrimination. Just as others have mentored her, Donna has a strong calling to equip, empower, and mentor men and women as they find the unique assignment God has for them. She wants to help others to dream big dreams and enlarge their vision—to live with expectancy and anticipation of what can be ahead.
Donna and Don have two children, Wendi, (with husband Bryan) and Trey, (with wife Kylie) and five grandchildren. Donna comments: “We must advance and see the world changed for this next generation. I want to do my part and work together with others to change the status quo and renew God’s church, one leader at a time, one church at a time so that my grandchildren along with others can come to know God.”