IMS board member, Sean-Tamba Matthew, was recently featured in the following article by CatholicPhilly.com. In it he talks about why he supports Independence Mission Schools, calling our mission “the Church’s work of educating a broader population, providing them with quality education in a safe environment”. He also reflects on how his formative K-12 Catholic education prepared him to be successful in life.
Sean-Tamba Matthew wears many hats. Not only is he a husband, dad, son, brother, and friend, but also a lawyer, mentor, and proud Catholic.
For some, balancing these different roles may seem like an immense job, but for Matthew it’s just part and parcel of what he’s called to do.
“The positions that I have now are all a part of a whole,” he says. “They relate to my interests in having a professional career and civic life that is driven by my appreciation for the gifts that I’ve been given throughout my life.”
Matthew, a parishioner of Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Chestnut Hill, lives in Wyncote with his wife, Elizabeth, a freelance writer, and their three young sons. Two of his sons attend the parish school.
Matthew’s professional career includes being a Shareholder at Stevens & Lee, a full-service law firm with 185 attorneys. He’s also a member of SES ESOP Strategies, a national ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) firm of consulting, financial, investment banking and legal professionals. He’s been a part of both companies since 2018, and his work includes drafting and negotiating agreements and other documents for stock purchases, leveraged buyouts, mergers, reorganizations, and corporate governance.
Matthew is also a Kellogg Fellow at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, where he is “able to promote employee ownership with business owners of color and women business owners.”
Outside of work, Matthew freely offers his time as a volunteer working alongside faith-based non-profits that strengthen communities and improve the lives of our neighbors in need.
Matthew serves as the Director and Vice President on the Board of Directors for Nutritional Development Services (NDS), an agency of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, dedicated to addressing food insecurity in Southeastern Pennsylvania. He has held that role for seven years.
In 2022, NDS provided over 7.4 million meals to those in need with 5.6 million meals coming through the federally funded Child Nutrition Programs and 1.8 million meals coming through NDS’ privately supported Community Food Program.
Matthew was no stranger to NDS’ efforts prior to serving on the agency’s Board of Directors. In 2010, he joined NDS as a summer intern conducting visits and trainings for sites participating in the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) Federal Lunch Program for children and youth.
For over two years, Matthew has also served on the Board of Directors for Independence Mission Schools (IMS), a non-profit network of 14 independent Catholic schools serving 4,000 students in grades Pre-K to 8 from families of all faiths in and near Philadelphia.
Matthew says, “They [IMS] are schools doing the Church’s work of educating a broader population, providing them with quality education in a safe environment that’s aligned with the teachings of the Church. The schools serve people from diverse backgrounds.”
“It’s critical to keep these schools open for the most underserved neighborhoods throughout the city of Philadelphia,” Matthew said. “These schools help students be successful professionally, but also morally, teaching them how to be good citizens in the broader world.”
Matthew grew up one of five siblings, all sisters, in East Cleveland, Ohio, which has one of the worst school districts in that state. Matthew feels fortunate to have attended Catholic schools for “K through 12,” he says. He first attended Christ the King School (which closed in the early 2000s) and graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 2004.
“Having that opportunity was life-changing,” he says of his Catholic education. Matthew found inspiration early on, from his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Dahl, who fostered a “sense of community” in the classroom, as well as leading the parish music ministry.
Matthew says the community of his Catholic school was “a very formative experience” and his family became Catholic soon after he started attending the school.
“The school ended up being a real haven for myself and my classmates” he said, and “gave us a leg up and the opportunity to go out and be successful” later in secondary and post-secondary schools. “Being able to grow up in that environment has been instrumental to my success.”
Matthew came to the Philadelphia area to attend the University of Pennsylvania, from where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2008. He then attended Temple University, earning his law degree in 2013.
Matthew’s early life experiences inspired him to pursue a professional career that was “mission oriented.” Matthew says he found inspiration for his work in Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si.”
“You do those things that Pope Francis called for in ‘Laudato Si’ and others in the Church have called for in order to have a more equitable economy.”
“So, that’s why I do the [volunteer] work,” he says. “The work and volunteer stuff drives and excites me, and it’s fun,” he says.
“I’m very grateful to be in a space like that.”