Shannon Williams is stepping down from her longtime position as president and general manager of the Indianapolis Recorder to take a role with education reform group The Mind Trust, she announced Thursday.
Williams will join The Mind Trust as senior vice president of community engagement on July 9, three days after her last day at the Recorder, one of the nation’s oldest African-American-owned newspapers.
The new position marks a big change for Williams, 41, who joined the Recorder in 2000 almost immediately after graduating from Jackson State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies.
The Broad Ripple High School graduate began her career as marketing and circulation manager before working her way up to assistant editor, editor and vice president.
She was named president and GM of the newspaper and sister publication Indiana Minority Business Magazine in 2010.
Williams said leaving the Recorder after 18 years was like ‘’leaving family,” but she said she was excited about a new challenge. She said the Mind Trust position is “right in line with everything she wanted her career to be post-Recorder.”
That includes continuing to be an advocate for minority community, educating people and helping children.
The Mind Trust, a 12-year-old groundbreaking not-for-profit that works to improve educational choice by helping entrepreneurs develop new schools, leaders and initiatives, is counting on Williams to spread awareness of the group’s goals to a wider audience, especially to “communities that are most affected by education change in Indianapolis.”
“We are tremendously excited to have Shannon Williams join our leadership team,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust, in written comments. “Shannon’s extensive track record of civic leadership, deep relationships across our community, and unwavering commitment to educational equity will prove essential as we work to engage and empower students, families, and our broader community in the effort to ensure every child in our city has access to a great education.”
Williams said her work with the Recorder “carries credibility and trust” that should help her make inroads into segments of the population that haven’t been aware of The Mind Trust’s accomplishments.
She will oversee initiatives like The Mind Trust’s Education Bus Tours and Community Conversations, which give city residents the opportunity to learn about issues facing Indianapolis schools.
Williams will also work with key groups of civic and community leaders to build understanding of Mind Trust’s initiatives, such as the Lewis Hubbard Group, a body of “education champions” co-chaired by Democratic City-County Councilor Maggie Lewis and Republican businessman and former senior Bush Administration official Al Hubbard.
The Recorder said it plans to replace Williams with two people. Robert Shegog, former executive director of Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry, will join the media company as vice president and chief operating officer. Jose Lusende, director of advancement at Martin University, will be vice president of strategy and external relations.
Williams' departure from the Recorder comes on good terms, she said.
She praised the Mays family for giving her opportunities to succeed in journalism, especially former publisher Carolene Mays-Medley and late business leader Bill Mays, who is credited with reviving the Recorder after buying the struggling newspaper in 1990.
“Shannon has served the Recorder extremely well over the years,” said Rose Mays, widow of Bill Mays. “She effectively maintained the newspaper’s legacy and journalistic integrity, has been a strong advocate in the community and enhanced the brand nationwide. While I am saddened to see her go, the role at The Mind Trust perfectly aligns with her passion and skillset. She will be great in this new capacity.”