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Pollen Picks

⦿ American Public Media — Digital Campaign Manager

⦿ Hennepin County — Application Designer and Developer

⦿ Code42 — Manager, Social Media


⦿ Jen Swanson named as Director of Digital Marketing at Children's Hospitals & Clinics of MN

⦿ Kari Ruth will be joining GiveMN as Director of Marketing, Communications and Strategy

⦿ Erich Mische featured in both the StarTribune and the Chronicle of Philanthropy


⦿ April 21 — Planned Parenthood presents Born After Roe

⦿ April 23 —  Board Repair Meet-Up

⦿ April 29 —  Joynoelle 2014/15 Runway Presentation



Volume 96

A Note From Pollen


Dear Pollenites,

As always, thank you for sending in all of the job, events, career updates, calls to action, and volunteer opportunities. These submissions are critical in building a community that is better connected. Each time you share Pollen as a resource for helping others get "plugged-in" we do a little dance. 

In Volume 96, we share a feature by Andy Sturdevant that captures the experience of OTA14: Sioux Falls, an event on April 4 that brought more than 500 creatives and community builders, entrepreneurs and educators, together for a day of creative collisions and connections.

We also share thoughts and highlights from Stacey Millett about the recent Anchoring Equity: Minnesota's Tomorrow event held at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs on March 26. 

Pollen chats with Jennifer Davis and Tricia Khutoretsky about Jennifer's new art exhibition at Public Functionary. We explore what happens after an artist gets a grant—the relationship to travel research, funding guidelines, and the importance of Minnesota’s art funding community. 

This is your last week to enter the Pollen photo contest for a chance to win a free ticket to bushCONNECTthe regional leadership networking event that will bring more than 1,000 individuals together from across Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. 

Keep sending us new content: jobs, board postings, internships, events, calls to action, and props. Submissions for next issue of Pollen are due Tuesday, April 29 (email to 


Table of Contents


OTA14: Collisions happen in all sorts of ways

Written By Andy Sturdevant
Illustrated by Bill Rebholz

The fifth OTA conference, on April 4, 2104 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was billed by its organizers as, among other things, a day of creative collisions. I think it’s fair to say that “collisions” is one of those words you hear a lot these days in certain circles, and through repetition it can sometimes be drained of its meaning. But think about what the word means: smaaaaash! It’s not always pretty, a collision. We saw a few literal collisions driving up the slush-covered stretch of I-94 West from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, on the snowy Thursday afternoon the night before the conference. In a rental car was Pollen Co-CEO Meghan Murphy, Pollen fellow Taylor Baldry, and me. Meghan’s Pollen partner and Co-CEO, Jamie Millard, would drive up even later than us, arriving in Sioux Falls at 3 a.m. after hours of slogging through heavy snowfall.

I mention the weather-related adversity not out of customary Upper Midwestern psycho-meteorological obligation (well, maybe a little bit). I mention it because it was a really helpful frame for thinking about what 440 attendees from South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota saw, heard, and experienced over the course of a very full single day in Sioux Falls. It’s easy to talk glibly about collisions when all is running smoothly. But how do you manage big ideas when the world around you is icy, dangerous to drive in, and less hospitable than you’d hope an early April day would be?

For one, you take a cue from Hugh Weber, the founder of OTA, looking natty in a bow tie and suit. He must have been nervous about the weather, but standing before the assembled crowd on stage, he laughed it off. “I got a lot of anxious Midwestern emails,” he tells the audience by way of an introduction for the event, setting the scene at 8am in the morning. “A lot of them saying ‘we’re not sure if we can make it!’ ” Indeed, the weather had wreaked havoc on some of the speakers’ travel plans, especially those coming in via connecting flights from Minneapolis. Speaking slots were shifted around. At least one guest had a canceled flight from MSP, and just rented a car and drove straight through.

Despite these hiccups, OTA was, by any metric, a very well-organized event. The speakers were sharp and thoughtful, some of the best in their fields. They hit their marks, and they kept things humming along beautifully. The audience was in a good mood, and the reciprocity between speaker and audience was good-natured and generous. Not only was there illustrations made by artists in the lobby, recording the experiences, but there were text-and-graphic drawings made on giant white boards in situ by illustrator Heather Willems, whose company ImageThink does this very work regularly all over the U.S.

As much as any of those factors, though, what made OTA memorable was the fact that there was a sort of looseness and scrappiness to everything that gave the speakers’ words much more heft and meaning. Representative of this spirit was Nathaniel Schnachter, of the Montreal-based marketing agency N/A. The teleprompter he’d planned on using wasn’t working, so he brought out a stack of notes with him. “Here’s my 795 pages of printouts,” he said nervously. 

The audience chuckled. 

Schnachter started slowly, explaining N/A’s mission and how his own work in more traditionally minded marketing firms led him to conclude that the old systems were broken, and to strike out on his own with a more socially engaged firm. As he spoke, he warmed up, passionate about the material, and finally said after a pause, “You know, I should just throw these in the air as I finish,” waving the stack in hand around. The audience broke into wild applause. With a flourish, he dispensed with the paper he’d just read, letting it flutter dramatically to the floor. The audience had been with him prior to that, but by the time the paper hit the floor, he had them. You can’t rehearse moments like that. You see them coming, and you take them.

There were other moments throughout the day where the speakers tipped their hands, or allowed for a peek into the processes. Kash Sree, Creative Director for the communications agency SS+K, admitted he’d been unhappy with his initial presentation and rewrote it almost entirely on the plane ride in (“Sometimes you have to jump off the cliff and develop wings on the way down,” he shrugged.) You’d have never known, though, from his incisive dissections of what makes advertising work, using examples of some of his well-known Nike and Nintendo spots of years past. 

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Jennifer Davis and Tricia Khutoretsky: After Artists Get The Grant

During the next two weeks, you can walk through the doors at Public Functionary and find yourself surrounded by a carousel of Jennifer Davis paintings. The exhibition is filled with glittering lights, swings, and fantastical depictions of neon creatures galloping to greet you. Public Functionary’s Tricia Khutoretsky has created a perfect setting for Jennifer Davis’ work. Davis’ playful paintings are complemented by Khutoretsky’s dark walls, which hint at greater depths bubbling under the paintings’ deceivingly sugary first impressions. Jennifer is a genuinely kind and nurturing person with a very, very, very rich imagination. When Jennifer retreats into the attic of her mind, she emerges with a trove of artwork exploring the inner lives of long-fingered, sullen girls alongside hulking, grinning beasts. If her color palette is candy flavored, the content is steeped in a fine whiskey.

Jennifer calls herself a hustler. She has a very active etsy account, and calls painting pet portraits her “day job.” The artist has come to be something of a local celebrity for her talent and charm. Budding artists fawn over the fact she has been supporting herself off of her art for over a decade. But with this exhibition, Jennifer wanted to achieve more. In 2012, Jennifer was awarded a Next Step Grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the McKnight Foundation. She received significant funding to "research, create, and document a body of large-scale paintings based on vintage carousel animals and traditional carousel vignette paintings."

In the summer of 2013, Jennifer set out to deliver on the challenge. Jennifer stepped outside her imagination and into a car with her partner, to travel the east coast, along the Atlantic Ocean, to visit eight states in eight days and dozens of carousels. She planned for bigger work and for deeper research. Jennifer's roadtrip guided her discovery of new characters, subjects, and inspiration for her work. Along the way, she found she was passionate about sharing her experience of travel and art research to change the way Minnesotans currently think about funding the arts.

The travel and research were life changing. When she returned home, the subject matter required a larger surface area, which required both larger paint brushes and power tools to blow up the aesthetic she is known for. She filled her home studio with very large panels and dreamed of filling Public Functionary with a new direction for her work. The stories lurking behind the imagery are still very much the same. The work is beautiful and haunting, the Jennifer Davis touch is unmistakable. 

Pollen asked Jennifer and Tricia to describe their relationship to travel, grant funding, and Minnesota’s art. One thing is certain, both are deeply dedicated to their work and the work of others. These two women will be important to a healthy future of the Twin Cities art ecosystem.   

Photo by Micheal Johnson for Public Functionary


Pollen: Tricia, can you speak to your commitment to feature local and international artists in the same exhibition space?

Tricia: I think that my curatorial approach to the artists we are featuring is built on what I naturally gravitate to. I grew up overseas and have spent considerable time in my life traveling. I truly believe that understanding the world around you leads to tolerance and compassion. I also consider Minneapolis very much my home. So for me, it feels right to explore what is here as well as what is happening elsewhere. Specifically, I think a mix of perspectives provides global context for contemporary art. Artists are influenced by their environments, communities and cultures, and through them we can learn more. Featuring only one perspective (that of a Minnesota artist), is not the mission of Public Functionary. The space aims to help people explore contemporary art and understand artists better, in order to do that, I think it's important to look at a broader picture of the art world.

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Anchoring Equity: Minnesota’s Tomorrow 

Pollen put out a call on Twitter to see if anyone who attended the Anchoring Equity: Minnesota’s Tomorrow event held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs would share a recap and takeaways. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation answered the tweet. 

By Stacey Millett

Major demographic winds of change are sweeping the state. We risk slipping into economic mediocrity unless we boost equity for all, especially those driving the change.  That’s my biggest take away about findings documented in a recently released report, Minnesota’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model.

Several local funders* interested in understanding the gaps and building on opportunity to boost the state’s economic health commissioned the nationally known PolicyLink and its partner University of Southern California Program for Environmental and Regional Equity to complete the report.

It hit the electronic news stands last month the same day as taking center stage at the Anchoring Equity: Minnesota’s Tomorrow event held at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs on March 26. The funders and several local nonprofits structured the morning to include a keynote on report highlights and a seven-person panel representing organizations on the front line of equity advancement in community development, transportation, public policy, and workforce development.

Report co-author Jennifer Tran began the keynote presentation by plunging into highlights of the data-driven document. She grounded the 250-member audience in facts and figures that quantified the economic burden of inequities and detailed the economic perils of inaction. 

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Volume 96: Props


Sara Fenlason

Fenlason named Ann Bancroft Foundation’s first Executive Director.

Jen Swanson

Swanson has been named as Director of Digital Marketing at Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota.

Shannon Heine

Heine honored with Minnesota PRSA Young Professional Award.

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Volume 96: Openings


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Volume 96: Events

April 15

Cambodia SON film screening
Director Masahiro Sugano of Studio Revolt embarks on a special North American educational/promotional tour of “Cambodian Son,” his new feature documentary that follows the journey of an exiled American spoken word poet, Kosal Khiev, from the streets of Phnom Penh to the stages of London during the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Kosal Khiev’s story featured in the film "CAMBODIAN SON" brings to light multiple, intersecting issues including immigration and deportation, incarceration, juvenile justice, art as integral to healing and full human development, and so much more.

April 16

Girl Scouts River Valleys Present 2014 Women of Distinction
Your gift and attendance will help provide financial assistance to girls who would otherwise be unable to afford Girl Scouts See and share news about Women of Distinction with #GSWoD. We appreciate your help and efforts in support of Girl Scouts. 

Clarity, Passion and Impact: How to Talk About What You Do
Come ready to talk. This is a lively, hands-on, interactive workshop geared toward polishing the language you use to answer The Big Question, "So...what does your nonprofit organization do?" Whether you're talking over a cup of coffee, into a microphone or at a fundraising event, reciting your mission statement isn't going to cut it. Your talk should be clear, personable and memorable. Join Capecci Communications for an interactive discussion on answering all the big questions for your organization. 

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Volume 96: Inspiration



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