Nicole Brandt Minyard
Founder, Executive Director


Nicole Brandt Minyard is the Founder and Executive Director of Poverty and the Arts (POVA). She is an advocate for art access, gender & racial equity, intersectionality, entrepreneurship, and science & technology. Nicole graduated from Belmont University in May 2014. During her sophomore year of college, she began programs for POVA through a work-study job, and as a Junior she began the steps to file for 501(c)3 nonprofit status. Her senior year of college, Nicole interned at the Arts and Business Council and under the art therapist at homeless nonprofit, Room in the Inn. POVA received official 501(c)3 nonprofit status in July 2014 and has since received numerous grants and awards including the Nashville Scene's "2015 Best Up-and-Coming Nonprofit" award and funding from Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission, and St. George's Episcopal Church's $25,000 Social Enterprise grant. Nicole has spoken on a variety of panels and given numerous presentations including speaking at CreativeMornings Nashville in December 2018. In December 2019, Nicole was nominated East Nashvillian of the Year. Nicole is also the Board Secretary of the Dickerson Road Merchants Association.

Nicole started building relationships with people experiencing homelessness her senior year of high school in 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. She has always been inspired by the creativity of those living on the streets and hopes to find ways to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. When she’s not dreaming and planning for Poverty and the Arts, Nicole likes taking care of her houseplants, thrifting for new interior pieces, going on adventures with her husband Josh and their rescue dog Max, and listening to the stories in her community.


Carolina Smith
Assistant Director


Carolina Smith is the Assistant Director at Poverty and the Arts (POVA). She was the Communications Intern with POVA 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 Assistant Director to help with communication with the added staff and coordination of volunteers.

Carolina graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelors of Social Work and a minor in English Writing in 2017. In addition to her work at POVA, she currently works full-time as the Employment Support Coordinator at local homeless nonprofit, Room in the Inn. She was formerly the Program Manager at the Contributor Street Newspaper, as well as 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 POVA. 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.

Emily Wertheim, M.Ed.
Program Coordinator


Emily Wertheim is the Program Coordinator at Poverty and the Arts (POVA). Through art and creative expression, Emily works to give a voice to those impacted by homelessness with a specific hope to assist those previously incarcerated and in the deaf community. Emily is passionate about facilitating opportunities for creating, healing, and earning income for Nashville community members overcoming hardship. 

Emily is from Birmingham, Alabama and attended the University of Montevallo where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Studio Art in 2011. She then attended the University of Louisville where she received her Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Counseling in 2013. Emily’s previous work experience includes advocacy and counseling for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, developing an art therapy program for a correctional institution, and extensive training in trauma-informed care. Emily has also provided art therapy and counseling for families impacted by incarceration and for youth in substance abuse recovery. She has enjoyed teaching modern calligraphy and painting classes and has assisted in coordinating fundraisers and art shows for other nonprofits. She is passionate about helping others find opportunities for storytelling through art. Emily enjoys caring for her plants, loves trying new restaurants, and can often be found playing volleyball and learning American Sign Language in her spare time.