About Freedom School Oklahoma City Freedom Schools Program Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Executive Director

Brittany Carter-Thomas, Esq. Executive Director

Brittany Carter-Thomas, Esq. has given her life to loving and helping people reach their potential. Although an attorney by trade, Brittany has led local and national nonprofits in Atlanta, GA and Miami, FL. Her work has helped many people overcome systemic barriers. She now continues her work with Freedom School OKC to ensure students improve their reading skills and build their self-esteem.

She is a graduate of Edmond Santa Fe High School and received her B.A. in English Literary and Cultural Studies, and minors in Spanish and Social Justice from the University of Oklahoma. She went on to earn her Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Board Members

Steve Ihekona, President

Steve was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma where he attended and played football at Edmond Santa Fe. Steve is currently the Chief Financial Officer and Head of Business Development for Caring Home Health Agency Inc. a family owned company in the OKC metro. He played four years of college football and graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. Steve recently graduated with his MBA in General Business in December of 2014. He is heavily involved with his church and has a passion for working with youth, specifically the mentoring of young men. Steve currently organizes a men’s group called Men United Leadership Group, a discussion group dedicated to helping men further lead in their work, families, and community. He also actively volunteers with the Oklahoma Message Project; a literacy and prevention program that focuses on reconnecting children to their parents in prison through the reading of books on camera. Sports have played a major part in Steve’s life and he makes time to organize summer workouts with young men that can’t afford it.

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Marlon James, Vice-President

Marlon T. James is a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where he attended Northwest Classen High School. Upon graduating from Northwest Classen, Marlon attended Langston University on an academic scholarship. While enrolled at Langston, Marlon simultaneously served in the Oklahoma National Guard and was a cadet in the ROTC program at the University of Central Oklahoma. He successfully graduated and with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Business Management from Langston University and days later, received an active duty commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.

Marlon has been stationed all around the world and throughout his 23-years in the Armed Forces, he has held positions of increased responsibility in leadership, management, human resources, and operations. Marlon was fortunate to command two companies, including one in combat, where he was awarded the Bronze Star with "Valor" due to his actions in combat.

Now, retired from the Army, he is currently a civil service employee as a Program Manager with the Department of Defense (DoD) as the K-12 S&E STEM Educational Outreach Coordinator, located at Tinker Air Force Base and is an Adjunct Professor at the Univeristy of Oklahoma, instructing Intro to Human Relations, and both Academic Success and Leadership courses.

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Jake Winkler, CPA, Treasurer

Jake is a Manager of Assurance Services for RSM US, LLP in Oklahoma City. Jake was born and raised in Oklahoma City and graduated from Putnam City West High School in 1999. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and served as External Vice President for the Organization. He was also the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the UCO Student Association. Jake has been an auditor for 7 years and has 10+ years of accounting experience. As an employee of RSM, Jake specializes in audits of governmental entities, healthcare, and insurance. He volunteers with the Y-Achievers program through the YMCA of Oklahoma City, serves as the audit committee chair and the Board of Directors for Upward Transitions, and also was selected as a United Way Board Serve Program participant in 2014. Jake is married to his wife of 11 years, Stacy, and has two daughters, Caroline and Emily.

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Whitney Pence, Secretary

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Amber Shelton, Past President

Amber Shelton is the Program Director for Youth Leadership Exchange, the high school component of Leadership Oklahoma City. She works with community leaders to help high school sophomores, junior and seniors learn about leadership, community involvement and city government. Amber recently completed her Masters’ Degree in Nonprofit Leadership Currently at Oklahoma City University. Her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education is from the University of Oklahoma. Amber taught elementary physical education and pre-kindergarten for nine years in Yukon, where she was born and raised. She is a member of Leadership Oklahoma City’s LOYAL Class VIII and the Pi Beta Phi Alumni Club of Oklahoma City. She also serves on the board for the Yukon Public Schools Foundation for Excellence, an organization that provides grants to teachers. She mentors a fourth-grade boy at Lakeview Elementary in Yukon. She has a passion for students of all ages and believes it is up to the community as a whole to work together to help our children succeed.

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Cathy Story

Cathy is the Program Coordinator for District Strategy & Development at Metro Technology Centers in Oklahoma City. She is responsible for all aspects of planning and deploying initiatives essential to district growth. Supports the Executive Officer of District Strategy & Development in developing district strategy and business development. Works cross-functionally and cooperatively with all areas of the district. Deploys or maintains initiatives as determined by the EODSD or Executive Team. She has a passion for encouraging education and the arts in young people. She said she has seen the value in being the change once you step outside of your own circle to pursue opportunities that have an impact on others. It is with intent, she wishes to strengthen and expand philanthropic interests and efforts.

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Erik Salazar

Erik is the Chief Financial Officer for the Flight Technologies and Procedures Division of the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Erik moved to Oklahoma to attend the University of Oklahoma, where he earned dual BBA degrees in Finance and Accounting. Erik later received his MBA from Oklahoma Christian University with an emphasis in Leadership. Erik also sits on the board of directors for Limbs for Life Foundation, Infant Crisis Services, Leadership Oklahoma City Youth Leadership Exchange and The National Hispanic Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees. He is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City LOYAL Class VIII and is a co-chair for Leadership Oklahoma City’s Youth in Action class.

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Roderick Wright

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Valerie McMurry

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Rich Johnson

Rich first heard of Freedom School OKC by following a Twitter link to a NewsOk article, which just shows the power of social media. After reading the article, he looked up the FSOKC website. The mission statement of helping children develop a love of reading resonated in him. Rich’s mom was an elementary reading teacher and was very passionate about her job. Her love or reading and awareness of the importance of books in a child’s life is something that has stuck with him into adulthood. Being a part of FSOKC, as a donor, then as a Board members, is an important way to honor his mother’s love of reading. Rich graduated from the University of Oklahoma as an undergraduate and then as a joint JD/MBA student. In 2005, Rich graduated with an accounting degree and then in 2009 with a law degree and an MBA. Rich is a transactional attorney at McAfee & Taft with a focus on tax law, new markets tax credit financing, economic development, probate and estate administration, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law. Rich also gives his time to United Way and Oklahoma Contemporary “Art of Brunch” committee member.

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Matthew Chesnut

Mr. Matt Chesnut has served as a trustee for the Chickasaw Foundation since February 2016. He is a senior new business development and private investments manager for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce. He began working for the department of commerce in 2014 where he has since served in the office of corporate development.

Mr. Chesnut received his bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Arkansas in 2009 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2014, where he served as chief financial officer of the school's student administration. In addition to serving on the board of trustees for the Chickasaw Foundation, he also serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Humane Society, SSM Health St. Anthony Foundation and Freedom School OKC. He and his wife Chesna reside in Oklahoma City with their four dogs, Shep, Birdie, Russell and Lily.