Ontay Johnson (he/him)
I will never be the same and haven’t been since.” The National Urban Fellows program took Ontay on a journey that catapulted his personal and professional growth. As part of that experience, Ontay was compelled to critically evaluate his lived experiences and how they fit into the larger narrative of racial equity in America.
“NUF and the graduate program challenged me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” said Ontay. “NUF taught me to ground my story in research to get clarity on the depth of these challenges [as I set my sights on] pushing for progress. NUF solidified and sharpened the tools that I needed to be awakened in me to see what can be.”
During his fellowship, Ontay was placed at the Northwest Area Foundation in St. Paul, MN. This residency was his first experience in philanthropy, expanding his understanding of the nonprofit ecosystem and challenging him to imagine paths forward outside of linear, conventional approaches to problem solving.
“The ability to have a network that I can connect with in every part of the country has been invaluable”.
Shortly after graduating, Ontay went on lead the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, serving the organization for nearly eight years, before leading another nonprofit. In these roles, he developed new programs, fostered collaborative relationships with community leaders, and diversified organizational revenue streams.
“I was afforded [that] opportunity because of my network, my degree, and my experience with NUF”, Ontay reflected.
Since then, he has continued to build and mobilize diverse coalitions to deepen his impact in his community. “I will never be the same and haven’t been since,” he declared..
Learn more about the National Urban Fellows program and how you can be involved by visiting www.nuf.org.