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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 agency, 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.

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. She currently works as a Care Coordinator at local homeless agency 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.

Sarah Blosser – Program Coordinator

Sarah Blosser is the Program Coordinator at Poverty and the Arts (POVA). She creates the artistic curricula for our artists, manages the gallery, handles art supply requests and purchasing, tracks artists’ progress, and provides additional artist support. Sarah is an artist, maker, creative problem solver, helper, nurturer of people, coffee lover, chocolate enjoyer, and occasional baker.  Originally from Northern Indiana, Sarah attributes the development of her creative abilities to her parents’ embodiment of a “Do It Yourself” way of life.  She received her BS in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art from North Central College in 2003.  After College Sarah began working full-time in Residence Life with gifted teenagers at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.  During her time there, Sarah developed an interest in and began to explore, the relationship between creative pursuits and human well-being.  At the same time, Sarah continued to explore her own creative interests—working with clay and exploring various other mediums such as painting, collage, and fiber art.

While pursuing her MA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Sarah served as a Community Art Collaborative Artist in Residence at Baltimore Clayworks from August 2010-July 2011.  It was there, in Baltimore, that Sarah got the opportunity to explore one of her true passions; facilitating visual arts programming with people who, otherwise, might not have had access to it.  Sarah graduated with her MA in August of 2011. From 2013-2017 Sarah was the Program Specialist for the Arts at Friends Life Community, a non-profit day program for adults with special needs, here in Nashville.  In that role, she grew the arts program from a one day a week activity into a daily program of high-quality classes in the visual and performing arts.

Sarah’s current personal artwork focuses mostly on creating visually interesting functional works in clay and fabric, with pieces focused on social justice making their way into the mix.  Her work in community focuses on social change around the accessibility of the arts, and the use of art and creative pursuits as tools for uplifting the whole of human potential. When she’s not making art or advocating for the right of others to do so, Sarah likes to experiment with gluten-free baking, hang out in coffee shops with her family, work on DIY projects with her husband, do art projects, make forts, and have dance parties with her kiddo, or occasionally binge watch her favorite TV shows while snuggling one or more of her family’s 3 cats.