Mission: Build family power through relationships and rallying behind the strengths of parents to weave together the home, school, and community, in order to fight for high quality education.
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 recently rejoined Emboss Partners, LLC to lead the firm into new areas of growth in the field of business consulting and capital acquisition. Matt’s passion is working with clients who seek new sources of funding and strategies for business expansion. Emboss engages with small and middle-market companies as well as not-for-profit organizations to assist in structuring debt and equity resources, guides strategic and financial planning and devises social impact investing initiatives.
Matt joined Strada Education Network as the company’s CFO in 2017. Murphy later transitioned to the role of Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Corporate Development & Investments at Strada. In this role, Murphy was responsible for non-profit and for-profit organizational social impact investing. Prior to joining Strada, he spent two decades as a senior executive with Mays Chemical Company, Inc. leading its finance, investment and corporate merger & acquisition (M&A) activities.
In addition to his corporate leadership responsibilities at Mays Chemical, Matt provided management and oversight of the company founder’s (Bill Mays) personal family wealth as well as crafting the structure of the transactions in his business investment portfolio. Being highly entrepreneurial himself, Matt saw opportunities to monetize these financial management disciplines. He joined forces with Mr. Mays, as partners, to create a consulting company that extended these activities to other businesses and individuals who needed to outsource these skills. The consulting company they created is Emboss Partners, LLC. He has previously held senior leadership roles at BWI, LLC. Inc. and Huntington National Bank of Indiana.
For more than 20 years, 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 Corp., Monument Capital Partners, Heron Capital Venture Fund, and the Community Investment Fund of Indiana, Inc. 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. He is a graduate in management and administration from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, where he currently serves on the advisory board for the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Matt is a sports enthusiast and resides in Indianapolis with his family.
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.