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ALLEN WOODS

Executive Director

Allen Woods is a devoted husband, father and entrepreneur – in that order. A lifelong Midwesterner, he’s never allowed the size of a 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. Recognized as a 2016 Cincinnati Business Courier 40 under 40 Business Leader, 2017 John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award and 2017 Echoing Green BMA Fellow, Woods is also a sought-after public speaker who recently shined on the TEDx stage. As a brand strategist and designer, Allen assisted directly in the growth of hundreds of small businesses and personal brands across the globe.

When Allen isn’t at MORTAR, he’s probably somewhere with his wife, Kyla, planning or recording the next episode of their brand new marriage podcast, Permanent Plus One.

ALLEN'S FAVORITE THINGS

GREEN LABEL ART X MOUNTAIN DEW COLLECTION
I remember back in 2007 when I bought my first bottle at a random gas station in Indianapolis. I loved the usage of these new "canvases" and the way that Mountain Dew was shining the light on new artists. I now have the full collection of about 30 bottles on display in my home. Art should be accessible.
AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF 'SONGS OF MY PEOPLE'
I got his on the day that I met Gordon Parks. We talked, he signed my book - but he did so much more than that.. he sparked something in me that made me want to pursue becoming a photographer.
SPIKE LEE
Next to Gordon Parks, this man has provided the most creative inspiration for me. To this day, Do the Right thing is still my favorite movie, but what I like most about Spike is his fearlessness. The ways that he's used his films to challenge traditional narratives is brilliant. I look forward to the day when he and I will be working together on a film.
OFF-WHITE CAROLINA JORDAN 1s.
First of all, the Jordan one is one of my favorite shoes of all time (also the LeBron 15, but this isn't about that). This specific version of the shoe was a collaboration with Virgil Abloh, who has been making quite a name for himself in recent years and continues to change the game in the art & streetwear worlds.
SONY A7III
I've been shooting with Canon cameras since I was a kid, so for me, switching over to a new system was a big deal. I have to say that I haven't regretted it for ONE second. I love what this camera has allowed me to do with my portraiture, and look forward to diving into shooting more film work soon.
SONY GALAXY WATCH
I'm lightweight a techie - but a minimalist too. I find a good piece of tech and I hold on to it for a while, avoiding the trap of getting the new whatever everytime they drop one. I do, however, really enjoy having my Samsung Watch. It's helped me to eliminate the desire for having too many watches - and I like that it's a separate stand-alone device that doesn't have to be connected to your phone.
THE JOURNEY
Traveling is kind of a new thing for me. I love to hop on a plane and connect with different people, foods, places, cultures.. (did I say foods?) I also enjoy making time to get away with my wife, Kyla, (and sometimes we might invite our kids lol) so we can create new memories.
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DERRICK BRAZIEL

Development Director

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.

Derrick’s work has led to recognition from the Indianapolis Star, YES! Magazine, Next City, Politico, the Stanford Social Innovation Review and NBC Nightly News. He has also been named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for Social Entrepreneurs and the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2018 40 under 40 list.

He is an Echoing Green and 2016-17 BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) Fellow, a 2018 Next City Vanguard and the proud son of two first generation college graduates.

WILLIAM THOMAS II

Founding Partner & Expansion Director

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.

SHANNON HOOTEN

Strategic Director

Shannon Hooten has been writing since she was twelve years old and woke up from a vivid dream she just had to write down. Since then, she’s experimented with other forms of creative writing; including, poetry and scriptwriting and has offered her expertise in copy editing to other writers. Currently, she’s working on her debut novel; a young adult fantasy that she hopes will give voice to black fiction authors and black women with an interest in fantasy and science fiction.

Shannon is a graduate of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and a current student at Xavier University. She’s co-owner of Elevated Soul Food, a catering company in Cincinnati, and dreams of starting her own publishing company.

As MORTAR’s Retail & Events Manager, Shannon manages the Brick Pop-Up Shop in Walnut Hills and is responsible for booking the Brick Pop-Up Shops in Over-the-Rhine. With a strong background in retail and marketing, she offers her expertise to merchandise and promote the Pop-Up Shops and the vendors who use them. She couldn’t be more excited to help small business owners realize their dreams and be a part of the MORTAR team!

SHANNON'S FAVORITE THINGS

DISNEY
Being a creative, I always enjoy stories that take me to another world and make me invest in fantastical characters. When it comes to creating stories like that, Disney can't be beat.
READING
My first love was reading. It's like having your own personal movie play out inside your head. The words become worlds taking shape around you and only for you.
WRITING
Reading created worlds and characters for me that I could fall in love with, root for, dislike, and cry over. My dream is to write stories that create that same experience for my fellow book lovers.
SLEEP
Ain't nothing better. Get rest, sleep when necessary, and make your bed so it's cool when you slip in at night.
TACOS
I've loved tacos way before the Taco Tuesday trend began. Now EVERYBODY likes them? *side-eye*sucks teeth* I could eat them everyday and would never get tired of them.
ELLIE
I despised dogs up until the moment we met Ellie. She's my bestest friend who loves me unconditionally, gets excited everyday when I come home from work (or a 5-minute store run), and follows me around like I'm the most important person her life (which I guess I am :) ).
EXPLORING
New places, new people, cultures, ideas, religion... I'm interested in learning about it all. Especially with my man or my girls by my side.
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VICTORIA SUMNER

Program & Evaluation Manager

Victoria Sumner is native to Columbus, Ohio, but has been captivated by the city of Cincinnati ever since she moved here. She received her Bachelor of Chemical Engineering Degree at the University of Cincinnati (UC) in the spring of 2016. Being a part of the Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program, Emerging Ethnic Engineers Program, and serving as a missionary through Chi Alpha Campus Ministries has helped shape her as a person. With her undergraduate research experience at UC, she has gained the passion and desire to have a career in Water Treatment and in ministry. Through MORTAR, she serves as the Program and Evaluation Manager. Victoria implements whatever moving parts need to happen to ensure that our newest entrepreneurs have a life-changing experience through our Academy. She also collects and analyzes data to make sure that we’re completing our mission and can vie to gain more funds to support more and more entrepreneurs as we aim to tear down as many historical and systemic barriers as possible. With her heart for making Cincinnati a more equitable and positive place for EVERYBODY to thrive in, Victoria offers her skill set to MORTAR to help us continue to say YES and activate nontraditional entrepreneurs’ dreams.

NAIMAH QUINAE

Design & Marketing Manager

Graphic design wasn’t a career choice for Naimah until it came time to choose a major at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. The only one that really rang true to what she loved was graphic design.

Up until then, she had a love of visual arts and fashion design, and had been raised an entrepreneur. For many years she worked on her skills as a fashion illustrator. She loved (and still loves) to draw things by hand. She later founded her first clothing line, “Designs By Naimah” at 14 years old, and offered unique, handmade, crochet garments to her eclectic audiences. Then in her late teens she developed her own illustration style which she named “aura vibrations”, and began to sell her pieces to lovers of art all over the city of Cincinnati. Her love of  beautiful, creative expression, and her artistic talent, helped her to easily move into the graphic design field as she began to efficiently work on computers, not just work by hand.

Post graduation (and an internship @ MORTAR) she officially became apart of the MORTAR team and started her own graphic design company, Above The Grid, LLC. She currently offers branding work to small business owners through her company and manages design projects for MORTAR alumni and MORTAR itself.

KARLA DUNN

Alumni Manager

Karla Dunn is a multi-faceted personality. She has wide business experience ranging from being an IT Consultant for a Fortune 100 corporation to Sales Consulting in the Beauty industry to providing Personal Chef services for professional athletes and Cincinnati elites.

She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, with a B.S. in Marketing. She is an entrepreneur at heart and has had several businesses of her own in the past, some successful, some not. She believes in the motto, “The difference between success and failure is the last time you got up.” She has a passion for those who have new ideas and desire to start a business. She loves talking to entrepreneurs and consulting with them to assist in any way that she can to help them realize their dreams.

Currently, she has a faith-based clothing line called, “God’s Girl”. Though she loves all things creative, her greatest artistic passion is food, she attended Midwest Culinary Institute and has spent many years as a caterer and food entrepreneur.

Karla is very excited to be a part of the MORTAR Team; working with alumni and helping their visions come to reality.

KYLA WOODS

PR & Communications Coordinator

Kyla Woods is a MORTAR alum and the Founder of Crowd or Camera Communications Consulting. She also serves in many capacities as a Dynamic Speaker and an Enthusiastic Emcee. She worked previously as a Traffic Reporter and Fill-in Anchor at WLWT News 5. Kyla has a passion for working with people who want to improve their communication skills; including corporate execs, entrepreneurs, politicians, and young professionals, just to name a few. She enjoys showing her clients the power that exists in effective storytelling and intentional communication.

Kyla is a graduate of Ball State University with a B.A. in Telecommunications. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Kyla manages the Communication Strategy & Public Relations for MORTAR Alumni. She has also be instrumental in telling the stories about the organization’s ongoing efforts to provide opportunities to our entrepreneurial population and our strategies to bring equitable redevelopment to the forefront of community  building initiatives.

ROYCELLE PARKER

Office Manager

Roycelle Parker LOVES helping and supporting – PEOPLE.  Even as the oldest girl in a family of six children, she assisted her mom in managing their home.  She is very excited to help and support the MORTAR vision as the Office Manager, bringing a wealth of knowledge gained from over 30 years of experience in the field. She has also obtained an Accounting Degree, and is also a Bookkeeper, Certified Tax Professional, and Notary Public.

When you come to the MORTAR office don’t be surprised if you hear Roycelle “burst out” singing.  She loves singing songs and writing lyrics, including poetry. She has currently has published a CD single titled, “Not Until You Love With the Love of the Lord.” She is also an entrepreneur for over 10 years providing administrative services to clients.

Roycelle is married to Reggie, her husband of 38 years. They have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.

ROYCELLE'S FAVORITE THINGS

FAMILY
Family is EVERYTHING!!! We have always been somewhat close even though we don't see each other often. They are true, consistent, loving, strong, and dedicated. Love them! My Children Are My Life. My Grandchildren Are My Heartbeat
GOD
My Lord and Savior who redeemed my WHOLE LIFE from destruction. I now live my life with joy, unspeakable, full of His glory!!!
OXTAIL STEW
Oxtail Stew and Peas (Beans), Chili, Pinto Beans and Rice
FRIED CABBAGE AND BROCCOLI
Favorite Vegetables: Fried Cabbage and Broccoli.
SINGING/WRITING MUSIC
HELPING PEOPLE
BINGE-WATCHING TV
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CANDICE HAYES-MCINNIS

Accounting Coordinator

Candice Hayes-McInnis is a licensed CPA who has been working in public accounting for the last 4 years. After graduating with her Masters of Accounting from Ohio State, she has been a tax accountant in a number of arenas from the big 4 to middle market. Now she is a Corporate Learning Manager for the Ohio Society of CPAs. In this role, she creates the continued education all CPAs must complete to retain licensure.

She also recently launched a nonprofit of her own called PROVIDOM which aims to positively transform relationships with money through financial literacy education and access to solutions that promote and support financial freedom! PROVIDOM offers financial literacy education and provide access to financial solutions giving you knowledge and confidence to “Grasp Money Differently.” Candice is also the accountant for Mortar and is an avid supporter of the organization. All alumni are welcome to reach out to her for guidance and advisement.

TIM BARR

Community Outreach & Expansion Coordinator

Tim Barr, originally from Dayton, OH is a graduate of Xavier University with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation, Tim took on a year of service through the Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati program with the Society of St. Vincent DePaul, where he worked as a Food Pantry Coordinator.

Following the year of service Tim managed the volunteer experience as their Volunteers Coordinator. Tim is passionate about developing neighborhoods and empowering communities to function at their greatest potential. Tim has also worked in 3CDC’s civic spaces promoting civic engagement through customer service. Previously, Tim was a Community Engagement Specialist with the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.

Tim serves his community as a Board Member of Cincinnati Young Black Professionals (CYBP) providing inclusive engagement for young professionals and serving also with MedMentor of Greater Cincinnati providing one-on-one mentorship to youth living with chronic illnesses. In his down time Tim enjoys traveling and exploring music and is eager to learn and grow with the MORTAR team

VIC MULLINS

Development Manager

Vic Mullins is a mom to three beautiful children and was born and raised in Cincinnati.  She is a graduate of Walnut Hills High School and Northern Kentucky University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media and Broadcasting.  Vic is dedicated to using her skill set to improve the lives of other Cincinnatians through her career path of service.

As an alumnus of both the Cincinnati chapter of AmeriCorps Public Allies and New Faces of Fundraising, Vic joined the MORTAR family bringing along with her an extensive background that spans the media, the arts,  teaching, and fundraising. After spending a few years serving as an art teacher for Cincinnati’s youth, Vic decided to make a career pivot to focus more on her skills as a development professional.

Because support from the surrounding communities is vital to MORTAR’s success, Vic is working diligently in her role as Development Manager to expand awareness in Cincinnati communities in hopes to broaden our donor base.

In her free time, Vic enjoys binge-watching Netflix shows and reading.

Allen Woods

Board Member

Allen Woods is a devoted husband, father and entrepreneur – in that order. A lifelong Midwesterner, he’s never allowed the size of a 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. Recognized as a 2016 Cincinnati Business Courier 40 under 40 Business Leader, 2017 John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award and 2017 Echoing Green BMA Fellow, Woods is also a sought-after public speaker who recently shined on the TEDx stage. As a brand strategist and designer, Allen assisted directly in the growth of hundreds of small businesses and personal brands across the globe.

Kala Gibson

President of the Board

Kala Gibson serves as executive vice president, head of Business Banking and chief enterprise corporate responsibility officer. In Business Banking, he oversees strategic planning, operations, sales force, credit fulfillment and product development for Fifth Third clients with annual revenues up to $20 million. In December 2020, he added oversight of the Bank’s Community and Economic Development efforts, including Community Reinvestment Act lending and investment, and environmental , social and governance efforts. He’s chairman of the Bank’s Executive Diversity Leadership Council.

Kala joined Fifth Third in 2011 as a senior vice president and
Business Banking executive for Eastern Michigan. In that role, he
was responsible for the performance and strategic sales delivery
across eight counties in Southeastern Michigan.
Kala started his career at Comerica Bank in Detroit. He has over 27
years of experience in retail, community and small business banking; middle market and asset-based lending; and credit administration.

Pranav Kothari

Vice President of the Board

Pranav Kothari is the Founder & CEO of Revolution Impact, LLC. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Chicago, the firm focuses on helping social sector organizations improve their results through better business practices and organizational strategies. The firm’s projects include growth and scale strategy, evaluation and measurement, and capacity-building for social sector leaders nationally. Current and past clients include Academy for Urban School Leadership, College Success Arizona, Education Systems Center, Expect More Arizona, The Joyce Foundation, LEAP Innovations, Neubauer Family Foundation, One Million Degrees, Scholarship America, StriveTogether, and Thrive Chicago.

Sean Rhiney

Board Member

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.

Dr. Nita Walker

Board Member

Dr. Nita Walker, MD, FACP is UC Health’s Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Services. Since 2015, Dr. Walker has provided leadership for the academic health system’s outpatient clinical practices and services located around the Greater Cincinnati region (including Northern Kentucky and Southwest Indiana). Over the past 3 years, UC Health has consolidated its clinics under one umbrella to improve quality and service. In FY18, the clinics did over 900, 000 visits in more than 30 locations.

She is a Clinical Professor in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and maintains a small clinical practice with UC Health’s Primary Care Network. Dr. Walker is board-certified in General Internal Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Sam Ross

Board Member

A native of Compton, California; Ross received his bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Cal-State University in 1970 and headed straight Cincinnati for a career at Procter & Gamble. To this day, P&G remains his only job interview. Sam began his P&G career as an assistant art director, then moved through the design ranks, ultimately becoming design manager for the company’s fabric and homecare global division. As such, he was responsible for the look of some of the company’s biggest brands of the day, such as Tide, Ariel and Downy.

Since retiring from P&G, Sam went on to start Ionic Communications, a design firm which has worked with companies such as Kroger, Pepsico. and P&G. Sam also obtained his M.B.A. from Xavier University in 1973.

Richard Westheimer

Treasurer Of The Board

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.

Karyl Cunningham

Board Member

Karyl Cunningham is an accomplished NonProfit Executive with a fierce commitment to the Cincinnati community and a love for the rich history and beauty of the city. She is currently a Relationship Manager at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and served previously in an Executive Director role at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati and as President and CEO of Emanuel Community Center, where the organization won the prestigious NonProfit of the Year Award from the OTR Chamber. Karyl has been recognized for her work by Venue Magazine as a 2016 Woman of Influence Award and Cincinnati Enquirer 20 Top Women to Watch. She is a proud and active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Ben Greenberg

Board Member

Ben Greenberg is a Cincinnatian by birth and by choice, a passionate advocate for his city’s success, and a lifelong student of the nuances and intricacies of human experience. He studied English and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a J.D. from NKU’s Chase College of Law before pivoting to a career as a creative entrepreneur. Ben is co-founder and partner at BS LLC, a boutique branding and marketing agency. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Mercantile Library, Breakthrough Cincinnati, and MORTAR Cincinnati.

Ashlee Young

Secretary Of The Board

Ashlee is committed to serving the community and lives by the words of Marian Wright Edelman “Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.”

Ashlee is able to live by those words in her personal and professional life. Ashlee was first introduced to the Urban League in 2013 as a founding member of Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Southwestern Ohio. Ashlee would later become President and serve on the Urban League Board. Ashlee continues to be active in the movement locally and nationally. Locally she is a current participate in the Urban Leader Institute, Class 26 and nationally she serves as Programs Chair for National Urban League Young Professionals.

Erikka Gray

Board Member

Erikka is a charismatic entrepreneur, passionate about entrepreneurship, diversity and community service. Erikka is from Columbus, Ohio, currently residing in Cincinnati, Ohio. Erikka realized at age 16 age wanted to be an entrepreneur, realizing she made more money charging her friends $5 for ride back and forth to school then working, so she quit her job at a local grocery store. During college Erikka enthusiastically tried her hand a various businesses- from owning candy machines to personal shopping. Erikka has her MBA in Business Management and Organizational Development from Urbana University.
Erikka spent 18 years in the financial corporate sector, with various roles ranging from Fraud Prevention to AVP, of Complaint Handling and Customer Care. Never the one to quit on her dream of being a full-time entrepreneur Erikka left her full-time corporate job in 2019 to focus on her company District 78, which she launched in 2013. District 78 – A mood Company, mission is to build a customer experience through luxury candle, plants and gifts. Erikka is also the co-owner of PAUSE, a collaborative alternative wellness store located in Cincinnati. You can connect with Erikka via email at hello@bydistrict78.com or online at www.bydistrict78.com

 

Derrick Braziel

Board Member

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.

William Thomas

Board Member

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.

Kashif Shaikh

Board Member

Kashif Shaikh is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Pillars Fund, an organization that is dedicated to amplifying the leadership, talent and narratives of American Muslims. Previously he was a Program Officer at the McCormick Foundation where he oversaw a portfolio of grants that focused primarily on education, workforce development and homelessness. The son of Pakistani immigrants, Kashif grew up in Cincinnati, OH which is where his love of reading and writing was born. He is passionate about building a world in which all children have the opportunities to unleash their creativity and dream big.

Carter Stewart

Board Member

Carter Stewart is a Managing Director at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation where he identifies and supports DRK Entrepreneurs. DRK looks for innovative, early-stage nonprofits and social enterprises around the world to help scale and grow. Prior to joining DRK, Carter served as the presidentially appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. He previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Jose, CA, and he was a litigator at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in Columbus, OH, and at Bingham McCutchen LLP in San Francisco, CA. Prior to law school, Carter was a New York City Urban Fellow and taught history at Friends Seminary High School. He is excited to be part of Mortar’s efforts to help build stronger communities.

Robert W. McDonald

Board Member

Rob is the Chair of Taft’s Cincinnati Business practice group where he has garnered a reputation as a leading advisor to growth-minded companies, venture capital funds, family offices, government entities, research institutions, and sports franchises. Rob is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® under Mergers & Acquisitions law, Securities/Capital Markets law, and Venture Capital law, and as a Cincy Magazine Leading Lawyer in the Emerging Company practice, and has been selected as an Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Star. Civically, Rob is the Board Chair Elect of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the President Elect of the Association for Corporate Growth-Cincinnati Chapter.

Jake Samad

Board Member

Jake Samad is a partner at Robbins, Kelly, Patterson & Tucker. His practice focuses in the areas of estate planning, probate estate and trust administration, business formation and succession planning, asset protection planning, and charitable giving. Jake works with individuals, families, and closely-held business owners to address personal planning issues, to help with the thoughtful transfer of assets from one generation to the next, and to assist business owners with advice concerning general business matters, which may include planning for the successful transition of the business. Husband to Amy, dad to Jack and Audrey, Jake lives in College Hill where he can be found helping with the development of the business district, having a beer at the local brewery or reading on his porch.

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