Our Grant Advisors
We believe that the best people to review grant applications are those who have personal experience working on similar initiatives. Our grant review team includes Pollination Project grantees and other trusted individuals working on many different issues around the world. A minimum of 3 people on this team reviews each qualified application. Together, they use the breadth of their experience to make the funding decisions for our grants
Sara Trail learned to sew at the young age of 4, and is now a successful author, sewing teacher, and pattern and fabric designer. At age 13, she wrote a nationally published book, “Sew with Sara” that teaches teens and tweens how to sew cute clothes and accessories for fun and profit. At 15, she starred in a nationally published DVDs, “Cool stuff to Sew With Sara.” She then designed two fabric collections, Folkheart and Biology 101 a pattern collection with Simplicity, “Designed with Love by Sara.” Her pattern collection features prom dresses, backpack patterns, hoodies and jackets as well as aprons and tote bags. While attending UC Berkeley, Sara created a quilt in memory of Trayvon Martin and her love for sewing and passion for social justice intertwined. After graduating from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, she founded the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) to be a platform where youth create art that engages and educates communities.
Sarah Yooyoung Cho
Highly motivated, enthusiastic, and detail-oriented professional with over 11 years of combined experience in the non-profit and government sectors. I am familiar with cultural diversity, human rights violations, and organizing various programs for refugees. I’ve worked as a liaison between non-profit organizations and refugees while creating effective programs that improve their wellbeing. I traveled around the world for various fieldwork for human trafficking, refugee resettlements, and human rights issue. My dreams since I was young was to make a difference in this world and I humble would like to say that I have accomplished and will continue to accomplish my goals. I believe that when we come together, the impact that we can make on the lives of underserved people are limitless. I feel very passionate about helping and mentoring young leaders who want to make a difference in this world. So, please feel free to reach out to me so that I can share things that I have learned in my journey.
Selassie Tay is a professional with vast experience in business management and development, operations management, microfinance, and social entrepreneurship in Ghana. He also has experience in training and providing access to venture capital to budding entrepreneurs across Africa. Recently, he has been involved in consultancy, advocacy and policy influencing to drive financial inclusion of the mass market across Africa. Currently, he works on business development for a payment system and services provider. Raised by a single mother in a community where gender inequality around livelihood and poverty was rife, he founded a non-profit vocational and business management institute to train and support young unemployed women to start formalised and sustainable enterprises. He holds an MBA degree in Finance; a BSc degree in Business Administration; and Certificates in Microfinance and Social Change leadership. He is currently enrolled in a Certified Digital Finance Practitioner programme. Selassie is of a fellow several leadership programmes including the Dalai Lama Fellowship; Young African Leaders’ Initiative; Emerging African Leaders’ Programme by University of Cape Town; and the Emerging Leaders’ Programme under the auspices of Mohammed VI King of Morocco.
Dr. Shenika Jackson, born and raised in Chicago’s Englewood Community, is an advocate for minority high school students and working adults. In 2016, Dr. Jackson created a college-readiness project called: My College Going Self, a project designed to assist high school students with the transition from high school to post-secondary education. The project started as a “pilot” project that was implemented to high school students for the first time in the Englewood Community at Kelly Branch Library. In May 2017, the My College Going Self Project, became apart of MY Foundation: Street Smarts to Great Starts Corp.
In June 2018, Dr. Shenika Jackson completed a PhD in Community Psychology from National
Louis University. She was also the recipient of The Mohammed Megahed Scholarship, a scholarship awarded by National Louis University’s President Nivine Megahed. Her dissertation: African American Males and Academic Achievement: Understanding the Challenges Transitioning From High School to Higher Education, captures the barriers young black males face as they navigate the educational system. Dr. Jackson holds other degrees to include a Master’s of Science-Written Communications (2009), and a Master’s of Arts-Psychology/Human Development (2005), from National Louis University. In March 2020, Dr. Jackson was offered employment in the Englewood Community, with a nonprofit organization: Growing Home. As Case Management Coordinator, Dr. Jackson works with adults from all walks of life, assisting them with job skills and training, and the capabilities to find permanent, stable employment after finishing Growing Home’s employment […]
Simeon Oyando Ogonda
Simeon has 9 years experience in working with NGOs and early stage start-ups. He has, in various
capacities; assisted organizations develop strategic plans, marketing strategies, training manuals,
and conference moderation and facilitation. His work is driven by the need for social progress of
communities through the positive power of business, and has brought him into contact with various
small scale businesses and grassroots organizations such as table bankers, youth organizations, and
community based organizations in rural Kenya and rural Uganda.
Simeon is the founder at Milenial Legacy lnvestments (Millennial Legacy), a consultancy firm
developing the business potential of its clients through a platform business model. He is an alumnus
of the American Express Leadership Academy and the Community Solutions Program, the 2016
American Express Leadership Academy Non-profit Leader of the Year, and a member of the
International Economic Empowerment Panel at The Pollination Project. He is a Commonwealth
Scholar with an MA in Education and International Development at University College London, a
Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy and Political Science) with IT from Maseno University, and
university credits in Transparency and Accountability from George Mason University.
Sophia Hanson is co-founder of the National Youth Foundation (NYF). A 2017 Pollination Grant recipient, NYF works with players from the NBA and NFL to promote kindness, inclusion and gender equity through student literary projects. NYF also created and hosts the only national student book competition on women, the Amazing Women’s Edition contest.
Stephanie has always had a great love for animals, participating as a foster parent for stray dogs and volunteering with various programs aimed to help the welfare of pets. After connecting her love for animals with her food choices, she began to open her heart to both suffering and compassion in the world and connecting the choices we make in life to a more blessed and blissed life. She realized the power that one person truly has to impact the world, and thus teamed up with Ari (her brother-in-law) to create The Pollination Project. Stephanie is also extremely committed and dedicated to her career as Vice President of a literacy curriculum company and children’s book distributor and feels a deep connection with empowering youth to be readers and writers in the world, while also empowering them to change the world. Stephanie lives in NYC with her with her partner Josh, and their son Odin, and spends her time both enjoying the city she loves, as well as traveling the country to be with her family and dear friends..
Steve Barr is a professional cartoonist and the author of the “1-2-3 Draw Cartoon” series from Peel Productions. He also wrote and illustrated “Draw Crazy Creatures” and “Draw Awesome Animals” for Impact Books.
Steve is a Pollination Project grantee. His “Cartoon Fun for Kids in Hospitals” program launched in the fall of 2014, and has been growing steadily ever since. It’s already brought smiles and laughter (not to mention packets of free art supplies!) to well over 1,000 pediatric patients in 3 states and will be expanding into several others soon.
His dream is to grow this program into a national organization that includes many other cartoonists and artists who will also reach out to young patients who are battling extremely difficult life circumstances, and bring a bit of happiness and distraction into their lives.
Susan Silber grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Orange County, interspersed with healthy doses of nature through frequent trips all over the United States, and graduated with a B.A. in History from U.C. Santa Cruz.
She merged her twin passions of education and the environment shortly after college through various jobs as a naturalist and program coordinator, including an adventurous two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica.Susan received a Teaching Credential and Masters in Education through a Peace Corps Fellowship at San Francisco State, and continued her work at several Bay Area environmental education organizations. She founded a bicycle education project in San Francisco, a climate education program with Acterra and worked with the Green Schools Initiative to create a waste reduction project with Berkeley Unified School District.
Susan recently created the Nature’s Voices Project, for which she received a Pollination Project grant in 2014. This project focuses on empowering youth to tell their stories about their inspirational environmental projects. Susan currently lives with her husband and daughter in Berkeley, CA. She loves nature, bicycling, gardening, music, outdoor adventures, traveling and hanging out with her wonderful community of amazing family and friends.
Suzan is a native of Lango Region, Northern Uganda, where she has worked in the fields of Social Change and Community Development over the years. After working for some NGOs, Suzan co-founded Solidarity Uganda and has worked internationally advocating for indigenous land rights and the dissemination of nonviolence training for oppressed people. She is inspired by pragmatic free-thinkers who live their beliefs.
Tamar Moss has long been a climate justice advocate. She is deeply concerned about climate change, and wants to do everything in her power to mitigate it. In middle school and high school she was a leader of an interfaith environmental youth group. She helped with a project that brought solar panels to 40 homes in Bloomington, Indiana. She also helped train hundreds of youth in weatherizing homes, simple tasks that reduce a building’s energy use.
She is currently an Environmental Studies major at Brandeis University. Tamar is a part of Brandeis Climate Justice, a student organization that urges the university to divest from fossil fuels. At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, she researched how urban heat increases energy consumption and disproportionately affects some socio-economic groups.
Tara is an ethical vegan who advocates for the animals and all beings and is a voice for those who can’t speak. She is a proud facilitator for The World Peace Diet as taught by Dr. Will Tuttle.
She is honored to be a part of anything that connects people to light and love and she is passionate about farmed animals, healing, nutrition, social justice, technology, food safety, the environment and the peace and compassion they all bring to our lives when they are in balance.
“What I love about the Pollination Project is that it brings me back into my heart and enables others to express theirs.”
Thomas Ponce is a young animal rights advocate and a citizen lobbyist form Casselberry, FL. Thomas is the founder of Lobby For Animals, the Coordinator for Fin Free FL, and director of Harley’s Home www.HarleysHome.org. Thomas became a vegetarian at the age of 4 and began writing about animal rights at the age of 5. Soon after, Thomas’s parents realized that his advocacy for animals was not a phase, but a way of life. His thoughts on animal rights not only strengthened, but he garnered support from other activist and eventually his own family, who are now Vegans thanks to Thomas’s influence.
Thomas believes that speaking out against cruelty for all living beings, including environment, is not only a pivotal part of progress, it is a our responsibility. Thomas created Lobby For Animals as a way to teach people about the importance of lobbying for animal rights and to offer tools necessary for success in the political arena. The Lobby For Animals website has training videos that give step by step instructions and tips on how to be an effective lobbyist, contact for government representatives, templates of sample letters, and more. “I feel that it is our responsibility as both citizens and human beings to use our minds, hearts and voices to speak up against the injustices we see in the world,” explains Thomas.
His work has also been featured by The Thinking Vegan, Go Inspire Go, VegNews and a number of local newspapers. Thomas has received awards from The Pollination Project, PETA, his City Commissioners […]
Tony Joy is a social entrepreneur and a creative by passion. She has 5 years of experience in the non-profit sector working majorly with adolescents, youths, children, women in underserved communities and marginalized groups.
She is the founder of Durian, a non-governmental organization that is committed to empowering rural communities to become self-sufficient through transforming their local waste into a means of livelihood. She believes that everyone has the right to live a dignified life and access to information needed for sustainable livelihoods should be available to all.
She enjoys teaching and inspiring creativity in young people especially young women who want to take an unconventional career path. She is a public speaker who enjoys talking about how to create something from nothing, community development and finding your creative energy.
She is a passionate creative who enjoys playing the drums and flutes, writing, drawing and creating and designing low-cost housing from eco-friendly materials.
Ulfat Kazemi is an experienced team player, leader and social entrepreneur who is passionate to make big positive impacts with a demonstrated history of working in the community. Furthermore, Ulfat is skilled in proposal writing, project management, communication and public speaking. Ulfat says, “I opted my professional career in social service so that I can cherish my dream to become a civil servant. I would like to ignite the young minds by flourishing the humanitarian values and social responsibility. I would like to work with different communities, and also need to stand for the dignity of ordinary people, especially the one who have no daily income and looking for someone to help them.”