Meet The Blue Umbrella Team

Our Story

The Blue Umbrella, Inc. was founded in memory of our Executive Director’s grandmother, Zelma Kimbrel Taylor.  Zelma never knew a stranger. Whether cooking for people in need or giving the best hugs in the world, her light was always brilliant. Her tenderness and compassion inspired countless others to make a difference in the world around them. The desire to carry on Zelma’s legacy of kindness and compassion was the inspiration for the founding of The Blue Umbrella.

Why the Arts?

Why does The Blue Umbrella think that the arts are an important and effective tool in working with Opportunity Youth? Research shows that the arts have a positive effect on cognitive development, and much research has been devoted to the therapeutic effects of participation in arts programs.  In addition, exposure to the arts has a positive effect on self-regulating behaviors such as showing empathy, mood control, creative thinking, problem solving, and motivation.  By providing an alternate outlet for an individual’s emotions, participation in programs dedicated to the arts will serve to alleviate stressors that can lead to criminal activity.  

Meet our team

We are committed to giving back to a
community that has given us all so much

Tawnya McCrary, MBA
Board President

Tawnya McCrary has over 30 years of work experience with 15 of those in consulting and has successfully executed contracts with 12 local and/or national non-profit agencies. She possesses over 25 years of customer service, data management and administrative experience and over 19 years of training and management experience. She is a Results Oriented Manager, Empowering Leader who embraces a Team Management concept. She has assisted non-profits in obtaining or retaining over $5 million dollars of program funding support

David H. Taylor

David Taylor graduated from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He began working in adult education as a volunteer. He has been a presenter at state and local professional development meetings on best practices to use in Adult Education. His desire to continually help others and his unique ability to connect with students on a personal and academic level has allowed him to attain a high level of success with students of all backgrounds and ages.

Christopher Matthews

Christopher Matthews holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Theory and Composition from Eastern Washington University and a Master of Music degree in Composition from Butler University. His 21 published choral works have been performed in Europe, Australia, and throughout the United States. In 2020, Chris began working for Marian University’s Adult Education Program, Project Build.

Valerie Jeffers

Valerie has worked in the field of Information Technology for almost two decades and has an Associate Degree in Management and a Business Administration degree in Computer Systems Management from Marian University (Indianapolis, IN). Valerie is co-director of TP Community of Scholars, a non-profit organization designed to increase the quality of life for single parents by providing them with an opportunity to receive life skills, mentoring and higher education.

Michael Schelle

Michael Schelle, twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, has been Professor of Composition at Butler University for over 35 years. His music has been commissioned and / or performed by over 350 orchestras, symphonic bands and professional chamber ensembles across the US and abroad. In May 2019, Schelle's opera The End of Al Capone received its Central European premiere production in Warsaw, Poland.

Miho Sasaki

Miho Sasaki is a Japanese composer-pianist whose music has been commissioned and performed by the American Pianists Association, the Indiana Wind Symphony, Trinity University (TX), the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, and featured during the Finger Lakes NY Summer Chamber Music Festival. In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. In 2021, Miho won the Butler University Concerto Competition.

Daniel Mallory

After dropping out of high school and spending nearly 16 years in prison, Daniel Mallory received his High School Equivalency Diploma with honors in 2018 He has works as a successful Logistics Certification Trainer, Family Success Coach, and Life Skills Coach at the Edna Martin Christian Center (Indianapolis, IN). He is currently a Certified Life Coach Specialist with the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office. His commitment to rebuilding his own life and giving back to his community is reflected in his continued dedication to making a positive change in the lives of others.

Patrick Schelle

Patrick Schelle is a seasoned social worker, working over 10 years in the Tri-State area - primarily New York. Determined to address racial disparities and utilize a trauma responsive lens, Patrick’s goal is to work alongside young people, to transform the youth justice system. In addition to advocacy work in the US and in Haiti, his primary job functions include adaptive leadership and program development in the non-profit sector. Patrick is an active member of many committees and coalitions including; the Alternatives to Incarceration Coalition and the AntiRacist Alliance.


Meet our partners
& supporters

Those who are helping nurture
positive change in our community

Marian University
In order to help the city and state meet goals to build a highly skilled Indiana workforce, Marian University has established Project Build, an adult education outreach program. Project Build provides diverse groups of adults with the educational and career training opportunities they need to (1) improve literacy and numeracy skills and (2) advance their careers. The Klipsch Educators College at Marian is committed to embedding Project Build programs within some of the city's most at risk neighborhoods. The Project Build Adult Education program offers FREE instruction to adults needing to improve their college and career readiness skills.
Community Action of Greater Indianapolis, Inc. (CAGI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the reduction and ultimate elimination of poverty among its clients. Currently, we served more than 40,000 households and 100,000 residents of Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks, Marion and Tipton Counties in Indiana. CAGI has pursued its mission since its incorporation in 1965, and the constellation of services we provide has grown and evolved as the shape and face of poverty has changed and the needs of our clients have changed. We are proud to be among the more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies in the country striving to achieve such outcomes for our constituents.
Public Advocates in Community re-Entry (PACE) provides a variety of services to individuals and families impacted by the justice system to ensure they are afforded the opportunity to lead productive and responsible lives in their communities. In addition, PACE ensures that people returning to the community from incarceration have the tools and resources to successfully re-enter; to promote public safety through effective re-entry; and to enhance community stabilization through reduced crime and increased productivity. PACE challenges social injustice by pursuing social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people.

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