On the surface, we are just three guys who want to use our gifts, talents and insights to inspire change.
Fundamentally, we believe in one of the core tenets of the American spirit: the power of a dollar and a dream.
Founding Partner & Creative Director
Director of Operations & Brand Strategy
Allen Woods is a devoted husband, father and entrepreneur – in that order. Born in Indianapolis, he’s never allowed the size of his city to place a limit on the size of his dreams. Allen is the creative force behind the MORTAR brand, as well as a business consultant and training facilitator for incoming students.
His determination (or stubbornness – as his mom would call it) has allowed him to develop a resiliency that has grown with him on his entrepreneurial journey – as a kid selling candy to classmates, a parking garage attendant with the latest homemade mixtapes for customers driving through his line, to a photographer inspired by meeting Gordon Parks, to an owner of a decade old graphic design firm.. the list goes on.
Allen, recognized as a 2016 Cincinnati Business Courier 40 under 40 Business Leader, is also a sought after public speaker (being a retired performance poet definitely helps) and brand strategist who has assisted directly in the growth of hundreds of small businesses and personal brands across the globe.
Founding Partner & Managing Director
Community & Partner Engagement
Derrick Braziel is a young, creative entrepreneur who is committed to the idea that all it takes to change the world is, “a dollar and a dream.” He supports MORTAR by deepening relationships with various community stakeholders while providing opportunities for external partners to support local entrepreneurs and their ideas. Prior to this, he (with the help of many!) decided to found an Indianapolis non-profit named Dreamapolis which continues to support hundreds of Indianapolis entrepreneurs.
His work has led to recognition from the Indianapolis Star as “One to Watch” in 2012; he has been named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for Social Entrepreneurs; he’s a member of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s C-Change Class 11 as well as a BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) Fellow.
He is the proud of son of two first generation college graduates and he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wittenberg University.
William Thomas II
Founding Partner & Board President
Leadership Strategy & Business Development
William Thomas is a passionate advocate, born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. Always been passionate about entrepreneurship, he started his first business making and selling origami to his 2nd grade classmates, then as an adult, went on to co-launch two successful non-profit organizations.
While William has certainly been able to turn his ideas into reality, he recognizes that many people have not been afforded with those same opportunities. William, in his efforts in fighting inequities, creating opportunities and driving social change, was recently recognized as one of Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs.
He has spent many years working to create better systems and policies in Cincinnati and nationwide around education. This is evident through his current position as Community Engagement Manager for the Cincinnati Preschool Promise where he works to make access to quality preschool a reality for every child in Cincinnati.
Chaos Coordinator & Development Assistant
Office Manager & Support Staff
Miranda Millard self-describes as a “mother first” and has long been a community advocate with a broad involvement in community engagement and outreach programs. She believes in people and the promise of their potential. This passion for people and for the society we make up continues to fuel her drive for a life of leadership and service. Her role as Chaos Coordinator at MORTAR, directly supports day-to-day operations in a way that is aimed at improving organizational productivity and efficiency, and allows her wear to multiple hats within the organization.
Miranda’s passion to advance people as an ambassador of equity has given her the opportunity to serve a range of professional and service based titles within the non-profit community. She was a founding member of the Hip Hop youth arts center Elementz and was recently selected as a member of The Greater Cincinnati Chapter of AFP, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Interact for Health’s 2016 New Faces of Fundraising class. Miranda is committed to the advancement of people, equity and the co-creation of solution-driven opportunities of meaningful social and civic innovation.
Alumni Development & Resource Coordinator
Sadell Bradley has been passionately devoted to seeing lives dramatically transformed for many years in the Tri-State. She and her husband Sherman, have been catalysts for change through their civic and faith-based work, as owners of Consider the Poor – a poverty advocacy and consulting non-profit, and as pastoral leaders in the City.
Sadell, a native of Philadelphia and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is a dynamic speaker, teacher and trainer. She is also a gifted vocalist, creative artist, blogger and the co-author of, “Breaking the Cycle of Self-Abuse, the Lucreta Bowman Story.” Sadell has used her gifts across the country and around the world at conferences, workshops and events geared toward helping women, youth and the poor. She and Sherman have a beautiful family of three children and two grandchildren.
As Mortar’s Catalyst Strategist, Sadell works directly with alumni to help them see their dreams realized. She uses her coaching expertise, administrative skills and nurturing spirit to resource and support our entrepreneurs toward success.
Sean L. Rhiney, is the Director of Xavier University’s Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning. The Center serves as a catalyst for faculty, students, and staff to partner with the broader community to promote student learning and community well-being. Rhiney earned a BA from Xavier and his JD from Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. Prior to joining Mortar’s board his involvementin Over-the-Rhine included co-founding the MidPoint Music Festival and OTRAglow, serving as a former officer of the OTR Foundation, and as an organizer of the annual OTR Summer Celebration. He currently serves on the steering committee of the Beacon of Hope Business Alliance, and on the boards of King Studios – a community development and educational initiative that celebrates Cincinnati’s rich musical history – and the Music Resource Center, a nonprofit after school program that teaches teens music and record production skills. He lives in East Walnut Hills with his wife Jessica.
Lew Goldfarb is a CPA, business lawyer, law professor, author, and entrepreneur. He currently works as Professor of Clinical Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, serving as Director of its Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC). Through the ECDC, Goldfarb and his students provide free legal help to local entrepreneurs who could not otherwise afford it, including many entrepreneurs participating in the Mortar program. Goldfarb spent much of his professional career as a business lawyer, serving as an associate at Baker & Hostetler LLP and Associate Chief Counsel at Honda of America Mfg., Inc. Lew is a native of Sandusky, Ohio and currently resides in Hilliard with his wife, Sharon, and twins sons, Benjamin and Joshua.
Teresa Hoelle believes in creating opportunities for all Cincinnatians. She has served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement for nearly four years at ArtWorks, a Cincinnati non-profit that provides employment and training for local teens, artists, and entrepreneurs. Teresa has fifteen years of in marketing, external relations, and business development. She was recognized in 2006 as a Forty Under 40 recipient, and earned her MBA from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, with concentrations in Marketing and Global Business. She is proud to serve on the boards of MORTAR and Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati.
Jim Crosset is the Director of Business Affairs (CFO) at University of Cincinnati – College of Law
Brandon Black is an emerging leader, business owner and entrepreneur with a passion for mission driven enterprise and first generation wealth creation. He took the leap of faith into proprietorship in 2015 after completing the inaugural MORTAR entrepreneurship course and launching Drawnversation, a graphic recording and facilitation service. Currently, Brandon is further testing his entrepreneurial spirit spending the next year as the 2016 People’s Liberty Haile Fellow focusing on connecting trade experienced Retirees with aspiring DIYers for guidance through home improvement projects. Brandon resides in Silverton with his wife Marian.
Kathy Laker Schwab has 30 years of experience working in urban neighborhoods in both for-profit and non-profit real estate development. She is currently the Executive Director of the LISC Greater Cincinnati, a national non-profit intermediary organization that helps resident-led, community-based development organizations transform distressed communities. A life-long urban advocate, Schwab became established as a resource for downtown living as Vice President of Residential Development for Downtown Cincinnati Inc. from 1998-2004, a business improvement district (BID), where she helped put together the tools for residential revitalization in the urban core. In her non-profit role she directed the formation of at least 2 CDC’s in Cincinnati and has served as a development consultant to the Cincinnati Zoo, the University of Cincinnati, 3CDC and the Uptown Consortium. Schwab is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she is a member of the UC Real Estate Executive Advisory Council. She serves on the boards of the Cincinnati Development Fund, United Way Financial Stability Impact Council, PNC and JPMorgan Chase Community Development Advisory Councils, and both the Human Services and Community Development Advisory Boards of the City of Cincinnati. A life-long urban advocate, she resides in Over-the-Rhine.
Natasia Malaihollo is a Co-Founder and CEO at Wyzerr, a tech startup that builds customer feedback surveys that look like games. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Ms. Malaihollo studied law, with a focus on Intellectual Property (IP). She worked for several years as a patent specialist and trademark agent, prosecuting applications for companies like IBM, Samsung, and Fujifilm. Ms. Malaihollo received her Bachelor’s Degree from UC Berkeley, and attended law school at Georgetown.
Pranav Kothari serves as Vice President, Strategy & Innovation for KnowledgeWorks, where he oversees business strategy for StriveTogether, EDWorks, and StrivePartnership and develops new strategies to advance Mission for KnowledgeWorks more broadly. Kothari also serves as Adjunct Lecturer of Social Enterprise at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, teaching both MBA and executive education courses on the education sector and social sector performance measurement. He speaks nationally on measuring social impact, national nonprofit effectiveness, and education philanthropy. Kothari lives in Chicago, IL with his wife, Harpreet Khera, and is a native of Pittsburgh, PA.
Richard Westheimer taught in the Cincinnati Public Schools for 16 years before joining his family’s investment enterprise, which focused on early stage investing. He has served many Cincinnati non-profits including The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, and The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. He is the pleased parent of five adult children and lives on his small farm in Clermont County where he, with his wife Debbie, tends to a prolific vegetable garden, plays music with friends, writes, and runs.