Nicole Brandt Minyard – Founder, Executive Director
Nicole Brandt Minyard is the Founder and Executive Director of Poverty & the Arts. She is an entrepreneur, advocate, animal-lover, and social artist. She graduated from Belmont University in May 2014 . In Fall 2011, She started the programs of Poverty & the Arts through an on-campus work-study job in Belmont’s Center of Service-Learning. As a Junior, in Spring 2013, she began the process to file for 501(c)3 status. Her senior year of college, Nicole interned at the Arts and Business Council and under the art therapist at Room in the Inn. Nicole started working with the homeless her senior year of high school in 2009, beginning in Louisville, Kentucky. She has always been inspired by the hearts of the homeless and hopes to find ways to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. When she’s not dreaming and planning for Poverty & the Arts, Nicole likes traveling, Indian food, going on adventures with her husband Josh and their rescue dog Max, and listening to the stories in her community.
Micah James – Program Coordinator
Micah James is the Program Coordinator at Poverty & the Arts. She helps with creating artistic curriculum for our artists, managing the artwork and merchandise inventory and sales, processing art supply requests, tracking our artists’ progress, and providing additional artist support. Micah is a Nashville native with an Art Education degree from MTSU. She has been a member of the National Art Education Association for eight years. Micah was instrumental in planning and organizing Franklin, Tennessee’s first annual Franklin Kids Arts Festival. She also conducted a collaborative mural project with students from Tennessee School from the Blind. Micah has been a representative for award winning artists, and spent hundreds of hours teaching art and assisting in various Middle Tennessee public schools.
In addition to being a promoter and educator of the arts, Micah is a practicing artist herself. After garnering some interest from the public, she decided to launch her own fiber arts business, Tooth + Needle, which specializes in customized embroidery pieces. She’s also had sculpture work featured in a juried art show at Cummins Station in downtown Nashville. Micah’s passion for art, advocacy, and community makes POVA the perfect place for her to learn and grow. In her free time Micah loves reading, gardening, petting cute dogs, exploring Nashville’s ever-growing food scene, and, of course, making art. Her passion for impactful community based arts programs makes POVA the perfect place for her to learn and grow.
Kristina Garrison-Clark - Volunteer Coordinator
Kristina Garrison-Clark is the Volunteer Coordinator at Poverty & the Arts. She helps with intake and communication with volunteers, leading volunteer orientations and group projects, training volunteers, and attending outreach fairs and events. Kristina is a wife, mother, counselor, speaker, poet, advocate, mentor, and change agent. Kristina’s life passion is to create and be a part of opportunities that restore lives, renew minds, and change hearts. She has worked in a variety of social service settings and is fueled by helping others discover their talents and purpose in life.
A graduate of the University of Redlands, Kristina holds a bachelors degree in Religion and Psychology. In addition, she has a Master’s degree in Social Work and Divinity from Baylor University. Kristina has certifications in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Conflict Resolution, Solution Focused Therapy, and more. Previously, Kristina worked as the Community Engagement Manager for Hands on Nashville. When she’s not engaging the community, Kristina loves to read books, exercise, listen to music, seek new food ventures and spend time with her family.
Carolina Smith – Operations Manager
Carolina Smith is the Operations Manager at Poverty & the Arts. She was the Communications Intern with Poverty & the Arts in spring 2017 and after continuing to volunteer when her internship ended, she transitioned into POVA’s first part-time Office Manager to help with bookkeeping, data-entry, administrative tasks, and communication to artists. As the organization continued to grow, she became POVA's Operations Manager to help with communication with the added staff.
Carolina graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelors of Social Work and a minor in English Writing. She is also the Vendor Program Manager at the Contributor Street Newspaper and was previously a Shelter Manager at Safe Haven Family Shelter. She is passionate about having an impact on issues related to poverty and homelessness and is thankful to have the opportunity to do so through her work at Poverty & the Arts. In her free hours, Carolina can usually be found laughing at her friends and trying to make them laugh at her, listening to good music, eating Mexican food, sipping black coffee, finding new treasures at a thrift store, or reading under a tree.
Soheil Najjaran - Marketing Coordinator
Soheil Najjaran is the Marketing Coordinator at Poverty & the Arts. He helps with the organization’s social media, photography, artwork & merchandise styling, graphic design, and developing online content consistent with our brand. Soheil is a marketing and graphic design specialist from Los Angeles where he earned his BFA in Graphic Design and his Minor in Advertising from the California State University of Fullerton. He has worked at a variety of companies as a Digital Designer, Art Director, Social Media Manager, and Marketing Director. In addition to his professional experience, Soheil is passionate about creating music, community involvement, spending time with his dog Lucky, and traveling.