2022 Odyssey of the Mind Spirit Winner
Dr. Jim Mourey
From his time spent dazzling audiences at World Finals to his hard work and dedication behind the scenes, Dr. Jim Mourey is the epitome of Odyssey Spirit. Aside from hard work, passion, and dedication to OM, the thing that truly stands out about Jim is his openness and kindness towards everyone he meets. It is clear that he knows the importance of inclusivity, camaraderie and teamwork. Perhaps one small part of this is the amount of time he’s spent as part of the Odyssey family – starting in the first grade!
“I was recruited into Odyssey of the Mind by my gifted and talented teacher, Joanne Rompel, thankfully, Odyssey of the Mind provided an outlet for my creativity. I’ve been involved ever since!”
While competing in the program, it also became a family affair and many of Jim’s favorite memories of OM was time spent with his parents and siblings — it was one way they were able to stay close and make so many happy memories together, “My mom was my very first coach, and my dad got roped in shortly after. My sisters, who are twins and two years older than me, were also able to be on my team for a few years, so OM was really a full family event (my older brother also got involved as a judge). So, my favorite memories include family road trips to Ames, Boulder, College Park, Knoxville, East Lansing, and, yes, even Disney World for OM World Finals competitions. Odyssey was one way our busy family was able to spend a great deal of time together doing something wonderful,” he said.
Along the way, Jim has made connections and “Odyssey Family” around the world and has worked to give others the same experience.
After competing for 10 years, he was a coach to high school teams while attending college. He then judged and volunteered for the past 20 years (and counting). In fact, he’s a beloved timekeeper/announcer for Classics Div. III/IV where he is known for his singing introductions and thematic wardrobe that matches the problem. He has also added his fabulous “Style” to the World Finals Awards Ceremony.
Several years ago he was tapped to join the Creative Opportunities Unlimited board and now serves as President-Elect of that support organization. Knowing the importance and valuable skills of OM teams, he also created a way to keep OMers in touch with each other and stay involved in the program, “I initiated the Odyssey Alumni database, which is now in the hands of an incredible fellow board member (whom I once judged when he was an OMer), so I have been doing this for a long, long time even if I don’t feel terribly old! Creativity keeps you young!”
An eternal problem solver, Jim works with HQ creating outreach programs, ideas for problems, takes part in brainstorming sessions, and so much more. He even used his creativity and energy to create Odyssey University, a series of videos that walks new teams through the entire Odyssey experience. He also assists various associations with creating updated websites and other materials.
Not only does he work hard in his roles as a volunteer, but he excels in his educational and professional life, taking many OM lessons along the way.
“I am a first-generation college student (along with my siblings). I studied business at Washington University in St. Louis, so I could attend a world-renowned school but also stay close to home (Spanish families are close). From there, I spent time working in luxury marketing campaign development in the midwest and relationship consulting in Los Angeles for a few years before pursuing my Ph.D. in Marketing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor,” he said.
He is now a popular professor at DePaul University in Chicago where he is a tenured Associate Professor of Marketing, the Director of Teaching and Research Innovation, and the Director of the Business Education in Technology and Analytics (BETA) Laboratory. In addition, he also serves as a Visiting Professor at IÉSEG School of Management in Paris and Lille, France, as well as EMStrasbourg Business School in Strasbourg, France. Coming full circle, he also uses his education and marketing expertise to help OM in many ways!
Somehow, he still has time for projects outside of OM and education, “I like to keep myself busy (and OM trained me for that). In addition to OM, I have put on improv and sketch comedy shows in Chicago, was the musical director for a Chicago-based a cappella group, and am currently writing a full-length musical just because I have always wanted to. During the pandemic lockdown, I wrote an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery in one week just for fun! I am currently launching an international podcast for marketing academics and practitioners and have a few more creative projects up my sleeve. It’s almost like I participated in a program that empowered me to dream up creative ideas and turn them into reality…), ” he said with a wink.
With all of his creative endeavors and accolades, Jim still focuses on the importance of others when he thinks about Odyssey spirit, “In OM we talk a lot about the Odyssey Family, and I am blessed to have so many OM family members! From German “siblings” I have known since my very first WF to the Micklus family (I’ve watched Katarina and William grow up!), my beloved Classics crew to the many coaches, parents, officials, and participants I have met over the years, one thing I love most about OM is this wonderful group of people who come together each year and work so hard to help kids embrace their creativity. This program changes people’s lives. I know because I’ve experienced it. My family has experienced it. My friends and their families experienced it. It can be tough to see when you are young and competing, but there’s a reason this program is called ‘Odyssey of the Mind’— the destination isn’t the important part, what matters are all the skills, friendships, lessons, confidence, knowledge, and fun along the way. I am honored to receive the Spirit Award this year, and my Odyssey continues — I look forward to many more years doing everything I can as part of the Odyssey family to ensure more young people around the world get to experience this truly incredible program,” he said.
So while he credits the program with bettering his life, Jim betters OM thanks to his involvement and genuine Odyssey spirit. Thanks Jim!