2023 Women of Influence: Shannon Williams

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(IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, The Mind Trust

Achievements: “I count any advancements that students have as an achievement not only for those students but also [for] The Mind Trust because of our innovative approach to education,” Shannon Williams said. The Mind Trust data shows Black and Latino students at charter and innovation schools are outperforming their peers at other schools. She also touted the improvement in the not-for-profit’s internal diversity efforts. The Mind Trust’s staff has nearly doubled in the past five years, and now 56% are people of color. On the board, 43% identify as people of color. The organization also has increased its diversity spending more than 50% over the past five years, she said.

Career track: She began her career as a journalist at the Indianapolis Recorder, where she served as assistant editor, editor, vice president and ultimately president. A yearning to more directly help people who have historically been discriminated against prompted her to begin thinking about other opportunities. “When I was invited to apply for a role at The Mind Trust, I was intrigued by the organization’s intentionality on equity and its innovative approach to educating Black and brown students,” she said. “Ever since I joined the team, I haven’t looked back. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead in bold, impactful ways that ultimately help those who need it most.”

Giving back: She serves on the boards of The Oaks Academy, Empowered Families and the Crossroads of America Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She also is vice president of the Circle City Chapter of Links Inc.

Mentors and mentoring: “I have been fortunate to have wonderful mentors throughout my life, so it is very important that I give back in those same ways,” she said. “Sometimes people need guidance, strategic thought-partnership or simply someone to talk things through on a personal level.” Words of wisdom: “Having a seat at the table is no good if you’re not contributing in a meaningful way.”

Work/life balance: Williams said she tries to be intentional about pausing work to be fully present for family time.•

Check out more Women of Influence honorees.

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