Pollen is a media arts nonprofit that harnesses the power of narrative change to build towards a society that is free, just, and loving.

fist-bumpWhen you spread Pollen, things grow. And the same is true for stories.

At Pollen, stories are our secret power. Stories nurture our human potential for deep empathy. Stories pave new paths and new opportunities for communities to connect across lines of difference. Stories inspire us to fight for each other when our flawed and beautiful humanity is threatened.

That’s why Pollen shares stories of individuals who want to change our collective story for the better. Stories that dig into the nitty gritty, the heart-wrenching, the inspiring and funny elements of life in our region, and shed light on the wider world around us. Only by turning to detail and nuance, getting at truths both comfortable and uncomfortable, can we begin to relate the unrelated.

Pollen stories — crafted with both vibrant, colorful art and visceral, intimate writing — drive towards a choice: to take action on what you learned. We work with a talented, diverse network of artists and writers who take words and images beyond literal representations of our world, and into the realm of the emotional — that’s our way of tipping stories into action.

Through narrative experiences, Pollen grows a network of Pollenites who have an unwavering belief in equity, empathy, and our shared humanity. Our success will be found in the sum of all the connections and actions Pollenites make when they are inspired by the platform, the space, and the hive that Pollen creates.

When we move beyond the transactional and access empathy to connect across difference, we can take more meaningful action in our shared journey toward a better world.



email: hello@pollenmidwest.org

address: P. O. Box 18027, Minneapolis, MN 55418-4714

Meet Our Staff
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    Ruby Oluoch
    Pollen Studio Manager


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    Julie Cohen
    Engagement & Advancement Director


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    Tom Loftus
    Program & Operations Manager


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    Jamie Millard
    Executive Director


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    Meghan Lionel Murphy
    Art+Story Director


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    Jerome Rankine
    Editorial Director


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    Melanie Walby
    Design Director


Meet Our Board
Koa Mirai

As a Senior Lender and Financial Specialist at Propel Nonprofits, Koa co-creates financial insights with nonprofit clients and strategically extends capital to historically marginalized communities. Koa is also a cultural anthropologist who has taught and conducted research at the University of Minnesota for over a decade focusing on nonprofit and grassroots mobilizations around issues of gender, kinship, political identity, and belonging.

Alexandra Siclait

With over a decade of experience, Alex has worked in the arts, corporate, nonprofit and public sectors, and has found her true passion in arts philanthropy, leadership development, and social justice. A cultural diplomacy enthusiast, she has worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, South Arts, the City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, Creative Capital, and most recently the Bush Foundation.

Damon Shoholm
Vice Chair

Damon is a Grantmaking Director with the Bush Foundation focusing on the Bush Fellowship program. He provides strategic and day-to-day leadership and is an active resource across all areas of the Foundation’s work. Over the past 15 years, Damon has served in a variety of roles across the region in leadership development, civic and community engagement, as well as equity and inclusion facilitation. Damon lives in the south metro with his wife and two daughters and also continues to pursue his passion for soccer as a coach at the high school and club level and a fan of Minnesota United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Sarah Clyne
Board Chair

Sarah currently serves as Executive Director of EquaSpace. She applies her experience at the intersection of education, social justice, ending gender-based violence, and building cross-sector relationships to all aspects of her work. Additionally, Sarah served as Executive Director of Northside Funders Group (NFG) and previously as the Executive Director of Domestic Abuse Project and Joyce Preschool.

Lolyann Connor

Lolyann began her career in nonprofit management 14 years ago, working in areas of administration, grants and fundraising, evaluation and impact reporting. She recently accepted a new position as Executive Manager at Hennepin Healthcare. There she will provide leadership to help shape and implement strategies to advance the mission of partnering with the community, patients, and families to ensure access to outstanding care, while improving health and wellness through teaching, patient and community education, and research. Lolyann received her Master's of Public Policy at the Humphrey Institute of the University of MN.

Brooke Brown

Brooke is a creative problem solver who is passionate about design, brand strategy, inclusive leadership and delivering results for purpose-driven organizations. An MBA and entrepreneurial spirit, she seeks out opportunities to do more good for the world through great brands and businesses. Brooke lives in St. Paul with her husband, Michael, and their three kids. She is currently SVP, Brand and Enterprise Marketing Strategy at U.S. Bank.

Lisa Middag

Lisa Middag is an urban planner who collaborates with communities to support sustainable, vibrant, and walkable public spaces through creative placemaking and community development. As Director of Nicollet Activation for the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, she is responsible for placemaking along the city’s historic downtown pedestrian/transit street.