Mission: Build family power through relationships while rallying behind the strengths of parents to weave together the home, school, and community, to fight for high quality education.
Vision: Parents and families leverage their collective power to eliminate the education gap between students of color and their white peers, and increase the resources available to marginalized communities.
EmpowerED Families connects with Indianapolis parents, families, community and school leaders to help build parent power and to activate change.
Ontay Johnson is currently an Education Entrepreneur Fellow with The Mind Trust. As a Fellow, he is preparing EmpowerED Families for its official launch in the summer of 2021. Previously, Johnson served as Executive Director of 100 Black Men for seven years. In that role, he developed various new programs that expanded opportunities for youth participants, fostered collaborative relationships with community and business leaders, and diversified the organization’s revenue streams.
Johnson earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from Northwood University in Midland, Michigan, and a Master of Public Administration Degree from the Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York. He is also a proud alumna of the prestigious National Urban Fellows program, which develops people of color and women into leaders and change agents in the public and non-profit sectors, with a strong commitment to social justice and equity.
Director of Operations
Tiera Hollanquest leads the creation of EmpowerED Families’ operations systems and works closely with EmpowerED Families’ Executive Director Ontay Johnson to create policies and procedures that establish long-term success and sustainability for the organization.
Before joining EmpowerED Families, Hollanquest was a Finance Analyst with the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation, where she oversaw the financial health of 40 Mayor-sponsored charter schools. She also played a role in financial planning, daily operations, and evaluating charter school renewals and applications. Hollanquest also served as a Case Manager under United States Senator Joe Donnelly. Hollanquest earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame with a major in economics and a minor in public policy. She is formerly an advisory board member with the Indiana Department of Education and a current board member of Project Azul. She volunteers with Dress for Success and Circle City Fellows.
As The Mind Trust’s Senior Vice President of Community Engagement, Shannon Williams leads The Mind Trust’s initiatives to engage, empower, and invest in communities that are most affected by education change in Indianapolis. She oversees initiatives like The Mind Trust’s Education Bus Tours and Community Conversations, which give families and community members the opportunity to learn about crucial issues facing Indianapolis schools. She also works with key groups of civic and community leaders to build understanding about The Mind Trust’s work.
Previously, Williams served for eight years as president of the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper, one of the nation’s oldest African-American-owned newspapers, and the Indiana Minority Business Magazine. She held numerous leadership roles during her 18-year tenure at the publication.
Throughout her extensive career, Williams has received numerous local and national awards for her journalism, community advocacy, and leadership. She volunteers in various capacities and serves on multiple nonprofit boards, historically becoming the first African-American to serve on the Hoosier State Press Association board. Williams is also a member of both Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Circle City Chapter of the Links in addition to being a graduate a Jackson State University.
Barato Britt became the sixth President/CEO of Edna Martin Christian Center on January 1, 2020. Prior to his directorship, he was our deputy executive director, leading the Leadership and Legacy Campus (our intergenerational hub for youth and seniors) where he oversaw day-to-day operations, and also led the Center’s Campus capital development strategies.
Prior to joining EMCC in April, 2009, Mr. Britt worked as a Site Manager for The Princeton Review, a Supplemental Education Service tutoring agency, where he managed programs serving over 300 youth in Indianapolis Public Schools. Mr. Britt also formerly served as the Executive Director for the Indiana Chapter of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and as Communications Coordinator for the Greater Educational Opportunities (GEO) Foundation from 2000-2004. His roots in Martindale Brightwood were planted in 1995, when he served as a beat writer, section editor covering the Indianapolis Colts for the Indianapolis Recorder.
Mr. Britt is also a Board Director for KIPP Indy Public Schools, a network of three K-12 public schools serving over a thousand students. Prior to joining the KIPP Indy Board, Mr. Britt served for 12 years as a member of the Board of Directors for the Irvington Community School Corporation, which also operates three charter schools in Indianapolis. A former member or the 100 Black Men of America and the Indianapolis Chapter, Mr. Britt also served the national organization as its Charter Schools Sub-committee chair. He served finally as a Director for Recycle Force, an organization whose mission is to provide transitional employment opportunities for the City’s hardest to serve former offenders from 2003-2015.
Matthew B. Murphy, III
Matt Murphy is Co-founder and President of Emboss Partners, LLC with the primary responsibility of leading the firm into new areas of growth in the field of business consulting and capital acquisition. Emboss Partners engages with entrepreneurial companies as well as nonprofit organizations to assist in structuring debt, equity, and funding resources, guide strategic and financial planning, and devise social impact investing initiatives.
Murphy has been a governor’s appointee to boards overseeing the Indiana Health Facility Financing Authority, Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund, Public Employee Retirement Fund of Indiana, and INvestED. He also serves on boards of the Lynx Capital Corporation, the Indiana University Kelly School of Business Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Heron Capital Venture Fund, and the Community Investment Fund of Indiana, Inc.
A graduate of the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University, Murphy is a recipient of the Coalition of Minority Business Development and Indy Chamber William Henry Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, and the Center for Leadership Development Minority Achievement Award in Finance. Indianapolis Business Journal named him to its list of “Forty Under 40” professionals. Murphy lives in Indianapolis with his wife and three children. He enjoys travel, music, and is a sports enthusiast.
Dr. Chantée Eldridge
Chantée Eldridge, Ed.D is currently the vice president of communications, equity, and outreach at Strada Education Network, a national nonprofit social impact organization. In this role, she is responsible for establishing diversity, equity, and inclusion approaches, leading internal communications, and developing creative solutions for various aspects of outreach and engagement.
Dr. Eldridge started a higher education career serving as a registrar for two small colleges in Denver, followed by a successful career in community engagement and public affairs in state government, working for the Colorado Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Indiana Department of Economic Development, and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. Refining her public affairs background, Eldridge worked for one of the world’s largest electricity grid and energy market administrators, Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator (MITSO), for ten years. There she worked in communications and stakeholder engagement management and spent the last five years of her tenure working as an advisor in the talent management and organizational development department.
Committed to higher education in 2015, Dr. Eldridge accepted a role at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as the director of employee communications – stakeholder engagement. She led teams responsible for employee communications, internal branding, former student-athlete development, campus engagement, and advocacy and outreach.
A native of Denver, Colorado, Dr. Eldridge holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and a doctorate in higher education leadership from Maryville University. She is married and lives with her husband and son in Brownsburg, Indiana.
About EmpowerED Families
EmpowerED Families builds Indianapolis parent and family power and voice through relationships and rallying behind the strengths of parents to weave together the home, school, and community, in order to fight for educational equity. EmpowerED Families listens, organizes, and educates parents to bring the change they want to see in the Indianapolis education system. The vision for EmpowerED Families was begun by Ashley Virden. The founding team consists of Ontay Johnson and Tiera Hollenquest.