Our Team of #Heartivists

AllStaffBoard of DirectorsGrant Advisors
Executive Director

Ajay Dahiya

Director of Philanthropy

Carolyn Ashworth

Grants Manager

Tara Matthews

Technology Manager

Matt Shanor

Social Media Community Manager

Milena Fraccari

Animal Advocacy Coordinator

Tessa Graham

Applicant Advocate

Shabnaz Yousefia

Board of Directors

Ariel Nessel

Grant Advisor

Anna Farquhar

Grant Advisor

Amy Doff

Grant Advisor

Ajayi Oluwole Olakunle

Grant Advisor

Alisha Golden

Grant Advisor

Beth Koigi

Grant Advisor

Clement Awanfe Ngueto

Grant Advisor

Doom Ikyaator

Grant Advisor

Fred Batale

Grant Advisor

Felipe Spath

Grant Advisor

Happy Arnold

Grant Advisor

Hayu Patria

Grant Advisor

Ijeoma Nmeregini

Grant Advisor

Jacqueline Way

Grant Advisor

Jane Wafula

Grant Advisor

Jenna Bardroff

Board of Directors

Stephanie Klempner

Board of Directors

Michelle Long

Board of Directors

Birju Pandya

Grant Advisor

Yaminah Childress

Grant Advisor

Vincent Atitwa

Grant Advisor

Victor Sjodin

Grant Advisor

Ulfat Kazemi

Grant Advisor

Tony Joy

Grant Advisor

Thomas Ponce

Grant Advisor

Tara Gardner

Grant Advisor

Tamar Moss

Grant Advisor

Suzan Joy

Grant Advisor

Susan Silber

Grant Advisor

Steve Barr

Grant Advisor

Stephanie Klempner

Grant Advisor

Sophia Hanson

Grant Advisor

Sara Yooyoung Cho

Grant Advisor

Selassie Tay

Grant Advisor

Shenika Jackson

Grant Advisor

Simeon Oyando Ogonda

Grant Advisor

Sara Trail

Grant Advisor

Paul Talliard

Grant Advisor

Olympia Auset

Grant Advisor

Nathan Georgette

Grant Advisor

Matthew Kaplan

Grant Advisor

Maulid Mwinyikai

Grant Advisor

Mbusa Bahweribugha Eric

Grant Advisor

Miriam Wambui

Grant Advisor

Mary-Justine Todd

Grant Advisor

Maria Maneos

Grant Advisor

Maria de La Soledad Saburido Alvarez

Grant Advisor

Liz Buechele

Grant Advisor

Jimmy Amone

Grant Advisor

Jude Thaddues Njikem

Grant Advisor

Kahlida Nicole Lloyd

Grant Advisor

Leslie Mestman

Grant Advisor

Jenny Nuccio

Grant Advisor

Iweka Kingsley

Grant Advisor

Hana El Safoury

Grant Advisor

George Reginald Freeman

Grant Advisor

Elli Weisbaum

Grant Advisor

Elle Morgan

Grant Advisor

Dorcas Apoore

Grant Advisor

Desire Johnson

Grant Advisor

Derek Young

Grant Advisor

David Omondi

Grant Advisor

Anne Udoh

Grant Advisor

Catherine Perry

Executive Director

Ajay Dahiya

Ajay was born in the outskirts of London to a working-class immigrant family. Growing up in a diverse and disparate environment his childhood was immersed in a variety of cultures. From early on in his life, Ajay felt a great spiritual calling. While in pursuit of this deep calling Ajay became ordained as a monastic in his late teens.

As a monk for close to a decade, Ajay had the honor of serving diverse communities across the globe. After transitioning out of monastic life would go on to hold executive leadership positions in a variety of mission-driven organizations. 

A deeper thinker in all that he does, Ajay strives to realize a healthy, equal, and just society for all by serving to unleash the goodness and compassion in everyone he meets.

Ajay was honored to have gained invaluable experience in non-profit leadership where he questioned the status quo. His personal success has been a product of engaging and inspiring others to grow. He relishes solving puzzles involving the relationship between human growth and a compassionate society. He thrives in helping individuals to recognize their true selves as part of an integral whole and in applying transcendent principles to organizational and strategic contexts.

Director of Philanthropy

Carolyn Ashworth

Growing up in the Appalachian mountains, Carolyn found inspiration in the forests, rivers, and wildlife around her home. In her third year as an Ecology student at the University of North Carolina- Asheville, a mentor gave Carolyn the opportunity to work on grant projects for The Environmental Quality Institute. Those early projects included contracts with Greenpeace, the Centers for Disease Control, and other diverse stakeholders who sought scientific solutions to environmental problems. These projects brought her to understand that challenges in the environment could not be viewed in a silo, and that all social issues were deeply connected.

Since that time, she has focused on fund and program development across the non-profit sector. This has included work in such varied fields as wetlands restoration, strengthening the foster care system, supporting high-quality palliative care and hospice services in rural communities, and expanding available public health interventions for families in crisis. Carolyn earned her MBA in 2015 with a focus on international development. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband, four boys under the age of 10, and a puppy named Sister.

Grants Manager

Tara Matthews

Tara is a Bay Area California, native who has spent her life rooted in service and mission-driven work. This brought her to the Peace Corps where she spent 31 months in Uganda as a NGO Program Specialist. During her time in The Pearl of Africa she directed a national youth leadership camp for young women, worked with community leaders and students on reusable menstrual pads, and received a seed grant from The Pollination Project for a project called Kids Who Click, where youth were afforded the opportunity to positively express their emotions through photography. She has seen firsthand the impact that empowering those around the world has in igniting compassionate, positive, social change. In her free time she loves soaking in what nature has to offer, including swimming in mountain lakes with her dog, Yuko. 

Technology Manager

Matt Shanor

Matt Shanor is our Technology Manager and oversees the organizational software, digital workflow and marketing support for our organization. He has a long history of working with businesses and non-profits to develop strategic marketing efforts and operational systems design and is proud to have joined the TPP team in 2020. In addition to his role at TPP, he owns a small marketing company based in North Carolina and has worked with clients in a wide variety of industries for the past 15 years. His duties at The Pollination Project include managing our website and business software as well as providing daily support for our employees and grantees.

Matt lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife, 3 children and a crazy coonhound. In his spare time when he is able to break away from a screen for a bit, he enjoys playing golf and tennis.

Social Media Community Manager

Milena Fraccari

Milena is a communications consultant and activist from Italy. She majored in Communication and Advertising at the Turin University. She’s been working for over 15 years in Sustainable Communication in the non-profit sector, helping green companies and associations to promote their eco-friendly products and practices.  In 2000, she met the American activist Julia Butterfly Hill, and since then has worked as her Italian spokesperson and event organizer.  She has also served as the International Coordinator of What’s Your Tree, a program created by The Circle of Life Foundation inspired by the story of Julia Butterfly, and has collaborated with the Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams and her Center for Peace and Compassion in the south of Italy.

Her deep passion for Environment, People, and Communication always leads her to put her skills and her heart in service of projects and initiatives to make a positive difference in the world, and TPP is one of those projects.

Animal Advocacy Coordinator

Tessa Graham

Tessa’s personal mission to align her values with her actions and create a more compassionate world has shaped her life over the last decade. 

Tessa’s passion for ending animal cruelty in our food system led her into the fields of public health and nutrition where she found an intersection of so many important causes. Learning about the connection between human health, the environment, social justice, and animal welfare showed her a space where universal good could be nurtured.

The research and community experience she gained from work in this space has strengthened Tessa’s ability to create impactful strategies for change. As TPP’s Animal Advocacy Coordinator, Tessa is able to work towards her biggest passion of ending factory farming while utilizing her background to support people around the world who are doing the hard and essential work of creating real change for farmed animals.

Applicant Advocate

Shabnaz Yousefia

Shabnaz has worked in international development and education for 13 years in countries around the globe – including India, Nepal, Nicaragua, Haiti, Malawi and Senegal. Her passion for social justice has led her to document the oral narratives of women in Nepal as a means for documenting sexual exploitation and violence against women; secure emergency visas for those needing life-saving emergency care in the United States; and lead underserved students from the Bay Area on international service trips to build schools in developing countries. She is actively involved with fundraising and advocacy for Raksha Nepal, an organization in Nepal that supports survivors of human trafficking with shelter, psychosocial counseling and skill-building to help them sustain a dignified livelihood.

Shabnaz received her Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies and International Relations from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004, and her Master’s in Peace and Justice Studies from University of San Diego in 2011. She is deeply passionate about creating a world where everyone lives with dignity and equal access to opportunities.

Board of Directors

Ariel Nessel

After an epiphany in 1997 changed the way Ari related to food, his heart opened up to the impact every person’s life has on countless beings and the world at large. Soon after this insight, Ari had a vision of himself attaining his worldly goals & dreams, yet left feeling empty inside. This led him to ground his life into practices such as mindfulness, compassionate eating, philanthropy, servant leadership, and transformational entrepreneurship.

Ari hosts and leads meditation workshops/retreats, volunteers his time to spread small acts of kindness, and seeks to create the causes and conditions for a major reduction in global industrialized meat production. On the side Ari invests in start-ups that seek to disrupt factory farming and founded a business that redevelops apartments to be as carbon-neutral, water-efficient, and community oriented as possible. Ari actively experiences the challenges of being a modern-day yogi, and the delusion that life can be compartmentalized into separate boxes such as family, work, service, health and spirit. He remains constantly challenged to live his life in alignment with his values, and to utilize the numerous privileges he has been given to turn seeds into blossom and blossom into fruit. Ari shares with his wife Becky, a doctor who cares for underserved populations, the desire to serve others and act as a role model for their two young boys.

Grant Advisor

Anna Farquhar

Anna Farquhar has worked as an Elementary teacher for the last 23 years. During this time she has taught a variety of subjects including French and Science. Five years ago, she moved to a new school named after Lt. General Roméo Dallaire and was fortunate enough to meet her hero. The school motto is “Making a difference in our school, our community and in our world”. This Social Justice motto became the force behind the community projects Anna and her students have undertaken.

In 2014 she was inspired by Cole Galloway, the founder of Go Baby Go, to have her students adapt motorized ride on cars for children with mobility issues. The Seed Grant from the Pollination Project made Go Baby Go Canadian version a reality. The difference this grant has made for her students as well as the recipients of the cars cannot be measured.

Grant Advisor

Amy Doff

Amy is a social justice advocate. She strives to be a locavore and delights in climbing coconut trees and sharing food from her garden. Amy is continually inspired by TPP applicants and is honored to collaborate with the Matungu Community Development Charity, in rural western Kenya, to plan public health and community empowerment programs.

Amy has a Master’s in Public Health, focusing on Health Policy and Management, a BA in Anthropology, a minor in Occupational Safety & Health and is a licensed massage therapist. She passionately teaches introductory massage therapy courses at Kalani Honua, in Puna and provides medical massage for Big Island residents and guests.

Grant Advisor

Ajayi Oluwole Olakunle

Kunle is the co-founder of THE EDUCATE AFRICA PROJECT, a social enterprise that makes learning the STEM subjects’ fun in Nigeria and Africa. He recently launched a Mathematics fun club for more than 60 pupils in government underfunded and underserved communities in Ondo state. He is also the co-founder of Enterprise Innovation Laboratory, where he has trained over 1000 young people between the ages of 18-35 and placed about 5% of them in jobs. He is a fellow of the President Obama Young African leaders Initiative (YALI), The Tony Elumelu foundation and the Social and Inclusive Business Camp under the Agence Française de Développement AFD, France. He is a sought after conference speaker in Nigeria and other parts of the world.

Grant Advisor

Alisha Golden

Alisha Golden is the founder of Do Something Epic Agency. A lifestyle, brand strategy, marketing, and management firm for conscious people, brands, and organizations. Alisha’s passion for people, combined with her keen marketing sense and love for business, has catapulted her into a world of entrepreneurial service. She is aimed at creating lasting change by working to unify societal divisions, dis-connected business practices, and hearts and minds of people everywhere.

As the founder of Do Something Epic Agency she is bridging the gap by helping people and brands connect to purposeful action and introducing new platforms for socially conscious brands and professionals that reach wider audiences. Alisha is forging a global revolution that has the power to help the whole world heal by broadening awareness of the power of purposeful, conscious, and healthy living.

Check out Alisha’s blog at KIND.

Grant Advisor

Beth Koigi

Grant Advisor

Clement Awanfe Ngueto

Clement is the Founder-President of Global Compassion, a non-profit based organization in Douala, Cameroon. Global Compassion has worked with an international and local team of volunteers/interns (including visitors from UK, Cameroon and USA) to create and develop projects that will help the Santchou community to be self-sufficient in the near future (Potable water project, Computer lab center, empowering rural women and peace education for youth). Global Compassion received a Pollination Project grant in early 2015.

Clement’s passion is to contribute his skills and experience to community initiatives, and to grow small businesses managed by women and youth in rural areas. His aim is to transform rural communities by putting youth and women in the center of social development using small financial resources to create big impact on the ground.

Clement is an independent consultant at Top Tier Liaison and Conflict Resolution Services LLC in Arizona, USA; the President of Mabé Youth Association since 2015; and a consultant for project development in Nlate Ban San-Nzock cultural association in Santchou.

Additionally, Clement has experience in peacebuilding (conflict management and negotiation) through distance learning with USIP (www.usip.org), the University of Amsterdam through a scholarship from the European Commission, and the North South Centre for The Council of Europe. He is also among the 100 youth fellows selected for an interfaith co-existence, intercultural and peacebuilding program called “A Common Word Among the Youth” that includes several trainings and conferences in Africa, Europe and America.

Grant Advisor

Doom Ikyaator

Doom Mavis Ikyaator is a graduate of BSc. Chemistry and also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and in Education.

She works to promote the rights and empowerment of the girl child. She is currently the Executive Director of Global Initiative for Girls’ Rights Education and Empowerment (GIGREE), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Nigeria.

She has over seven (7) years of experience in development work and field experience; project management and programming. She has in depth knowledge on the issues of gender and governance. She is a skilled facilitator and trainer.

She has implemented activities on projects that promote Girl Child Education; Menstrual Hygiene and Well-being; Maternal Health; Governance; Women Peace and Security. Due to her passion as a development worker and her background in the Sciences, Doom also promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) among young girls of all ages and backgrounds.

She promotes the well-being of especially girls, women, youth, people living with disabilities and other vulnerable groups within the society.

Grant Advisor

Fred Batale

Fred Batale graduated as a visual artist from university, where he acquired various knowledge, skills and experience in working with different creative methods. His artistic practices deals with themes of disability empowerment, rights, and advocacy. Given the challenges he faces in Uganda living as a person with disability, he knows that he is not the only individual with such
challenges. That is why he works to empower others like himself and educate the greater
community that any one person is capable of pursuing their dreams through Disability
Art Project Uganda.

Fred is the founder and director of Disability Art Project Uganda (DAPU) for which he received a Pollination Project grant. DAPU is a community of people with disabilities who come together with an aim of empowering other fellow with disabilities to develop practical skills, confidence and fulfill creative potential.

DAPU was established to offer art and design skills to people with disabilities living on streets and slums to create unique products which in turn provide economic stability and lift people with disabilities off the streets and to lobby and advocate for disability rights through art projects.

Grant Advisor

Felipe Spath

Felipe is an anthropologist with wide experience in the hospitality industry managing companies in Colombia, Ecuador and United States. After many years in this industry, he left to find fulfillment in Asia, as he felt life was more than a supposedly successful career. He lived there for a few years with rural communities receiving teachings from traditional masters. He returned to Colombia to found  La Juanita Finca Verde

This rural transformation platform combines ancient traditions and knowledge with vanguard developments. Establishing balanced relationships with the natural, social, and cultural environment, La Juanita Finca Verde has become a social innovation referent. Various projects including  Cinético , a rural wandering cinema, ConectArte which provides education methodologies, the organization of various TEDx events at non conventional locations, are planting transformation in Colombia, to harvest well-being and peace at rural regions.

He is investigation teacher of the graduate program of Education Projects Mediated by Technologies at the University of the Sabana.

Grant Advisor

Happy Arnold

Happy Arnold has newly been appointed as The Pollination Project (TPP) Grant Advisor. Arnold holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Cultural Studies from the University of Malawi and Diploma in Journalism from The Polytechnic. He has been working with different institution and currently he is an affiliate of One Young World (OWY) as an Ambassador, Climate Change Champion under the UK Wilton Park and serves as a Public Relation and Communication Board Member for Business of Truth Africa under World Learning.

In 2015, Arnold Founded a nonprofit making youth led organisation called Youth in Agriculture for Economic Development (YAED). Growing up in neighborhood mixed economic classes, extreme poverty and retard food and nutrition security compounded by climate change, Happy felt he is opportune to make change in Malawi’s community especially for youth based in rural areas. Through YAED he advocates and creates an empowered and informed youth and women to meaningfully contribute to social economic development, address climate change, nutrition and food security. The organisation started championing a change for the lives of rural communities through agricultural innovative projects dedicating his time to change the lives of Malawi people.

YEAD further runs Solar Powered Irrigation Scheme for multiplication of improved varieties of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP). The project aims at ending poverty and improving nutrition status of young women and youth. The project further better nutrition resulting from improved dietary diversity and improved health for both adults and children. The beneficiaries are trained in Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato Production, food products production and facilitate the marketing of surplus produce.

Before forming YAED, Arnold worked with Malawi24 as a Senior Reporter and The Malawi Star Online News Publication as a Managing Editor.

Grant Advisor

Hayu Patria

Hayu is a founder of Mantasa, an NGO that works on creating food and nutrition sovereignty by utilization of plant biodiversity in Indonesia. Hayu has been working in the field of edible wild plants since 2002 when her thesis on mangrove for food was rejected several times by her advisors. Since then she has been documenting hundreds of edible wild plants and their uses for food and sharing them back to local communities to reduce the number of hunger and malnutrition among women and children. Over time she realized that everything is connected and started to dig more on the connection between food, seed, traditional knowledge, soil, water, forest and women and since then her work has been integrating those issues.

Grant Advisor

Ijeoma Nmeregini

Ijeoma Nmeregini popularly known as Aijay Desmond is a Nigerian-born award-winning singer, a song writer, and a licensed Medical Laboratory Scientist with over a decade of experience in Laboratory Medicine. Ijeoma runs a non-profit in Nigeria known as Be-In-Health Foundation (www.bihefoundation.org) which provides free healthcare services and medication for people living in low-income neighbourhoods and rural communities with great focus on Non-Communicable (Chronic) Diseases (NCDs). The organisation’s interventions also include advocacy/raising awareness (including self-care educator programs), screening and providing support systems by way of patient referrals to local general hospitals. In addition, Be-In-Health Foundation provides water and sanitation facilities to rural communities that need them.

As the Executive Director of Be-In-Health Foundation, Ijeoma is responsible for designing new high-impact partnerships, managing relationships with important external stakeholders, and serving as an internal and external ambassador of the initiative.

Ijeoma was formerly the Head of the Laboratory Services Department of the Nigerian Navy Sickbay in Lagos and the Operations Manager Lifeblood Donor Foundation, Nigeria.

She is a Hive Alumna, a Young African Leadership Institute (YALI) RLC Alumna and in 2017, she became one of the 100 young Nigerians selected for the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders where she trained in Civic Leadership at Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA.
Ijeoma has several certification (trainings) in the healthcare space from different universities in the United States including a certificate in Grant Writing from Appalachian State University, North Carolina, USA.

She is a member of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), a student member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), United Kingdom and an Associate of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria. She is a writer and an educator on health –related matters.

In the future, Ijeoma plans to operate a chain of free clinics across Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

Grant Advisor

Jacqueline Way

Jacqueline has dedicated herself to social good projects both personally and professionally for over two decades, but it was Motherhood that inspired her to make a world of difference. Jacqueline is the mother of three boys (3, 4, and 7 yrs).

In 2010 she made a commitment with her oldest son to give back to the world every day for one year. They called it 365give and documented it via a blog as a way to teach others the value of giving. In 2014 she has taken 365give to new heights. Now as a not for profit organization 365give educates children in elementary schools how they too can give every day. In 2014, Jacqueline received a Pollination Project grant to support her work.

Grant Advisor

Jane Wafula

Jane Wafula,  lives in Eldoret with her nuclear family.  She is passionate about education topics in Kenya and has a Bachelor of Science and also did post graduate diploma in Education. She has worked as teacher, education officer, community development officer and an entrepreneur.  In 2015 she received TPP funding to started the organization Splendid Generation Talent and Mentorship Program, to take care of children after school and help them move away from too much TV watching.

As a TPP East Africa Leader, she looks forward for opportunities to develop her mentorship skills, build her network with other leaders, grantees and beneficiaries of TPP, develop capacity through trainings, as well as contributing her talents and skills to benefit TPP as an organization and support the grantee network in Kenya.

Grant Advisor

Jenna Bardroff

Jenna is an event coordinator, humane educator, and solutionary (a solution-oriented individual who consistently endeavors to create healthy, compassionate, and regenerative communities). Making the decision to be vegetarian at the age of 5, Jenna has always been motivated by the reward of making the world a better place. At 14 years old, Jenna initiated her first animal education program at a unique sanctuary, the same year she began college and adopted a vegan lifestyle. She has a B.S. degree in Integrative Biology, a Master of Arts degree in Humane Education, and has spent over 12 years researching the solutions to and consequences of problematic cultural eating behaviors. Jenna is an ambassador for the movement of transforming humans from a problematic species to a solutionary species and is an active event director and member of the Advisory Board for the non-profit organization, Solutionary Events. She is also the Executive Director for Vegetarians of Central Florida, an organization responsible for two of the largest vegan festivals in the country, and a member of the Board of Directors for Vegan Business Center, an initiative with the goal to support new vegan businesses. In addition, Jenna recently joined the Board of Directors for a new non-profit called VeganEvan’s Mission, a humane education program intended to change school cafeterias by empowering children in leadership positions to advocate for their health. She credits much of her success and advocacy accomplishments to the support and encouragement she has received from like-minded solutionaries and organizations such as The Pollination Project.

Board of Directors

Stephanie Klempner

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.

Board of Directors

Michelle Long

Michelle Long is co-founder of Jubilee Gift LLC, a learning and investment platform for supporting investors and entrepreneurs in remembering the way of flow, trust, and belonging to Earth and each other — and in bringing that spirit into all financial transactions. Jubilee Gift hosts both a network of wealth holders and wisdom keepers in transformative learning, and integrated capital funds that are focused on inviting back compassion, wisdom, and Earth’s receding life forces.

Previously she was the founding Executive Director of BALLE: Be a Localist, a North American movement of more than 125,000 local entrepreneurs, investors and philanthropists. Under her 17-year tenure, she wrote the book on “Local First” campaigns, which were then enacted in every State and resulted in a major shift in public awareness for, and positive association with the “local” people and places with whom we do business. She led local networks of businesses to learn about, implement, make purchasing shifts, and change local laws that led to wide-scale changes in everything from green building to regenerative agriculture to renewable energy to initiatives for closing the racial wealth gap and democratic ownership structures. BALLE also launched a unique North American Fellowship program dedicated to cultivating the emergence of local, equitable economies. With RSF Social Finance, BALLE created the first community capital conference in North America, created a four-year cohort of wealth holders committed to moving their investments and philanthropy from Wall Street to relationships with life in their own bio-regions, and a Community Foundation Circle with combined assets nearing $8B, with that same goal.

After an epiphany one year speaking at the SoCap conference where she realized many of the shifts she had led in this country had become so trendy that leaders were now competing over the results but not “creating” based on love – she started to focus on shifting the mindset from which this system has arisen. In recent years Michelle has sought out “wisdom keepers” of various traditions to explore the practices that bring us closer to our fundamental nature. She joined the boards of the Pollination Project and at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. She was selected by the MIT Presencing Institute, along with Eileen Fisher and then Governor Kitzhaber, for Otto Scharmer’s first global cohort on transforming capitalism from the inside-out. She also conceived of, and invited a team to create The Well-Being in Business Lab, guiding prominent business owners, and other leaders to a deeper level of intention within themselves and their businesses.

Her work has been featured in dozens of books, local media, and national media including the NYT, the WSJ, CNN, NPR, PBS, and the Guardian. A regular keynote speaker who has been on the main-stage of all the major “new economy” events, and named one of The Purpose Economy 100 for North America.

Board of Directors

Birju Pandya

Birju Pandya focuses on the nexus of finance, systems evolution and inner transformation. He has been involved in the Mobius ecosystem since 2014.

Birju has years of experience working in the investment world, towards creative uses of capital and designing for emergence. He also has spent years developing mindfulness-related approaches to support individual/collective human development within business.

Birju has worked with organizations including Armonia (Regenerative Investing), RSF Social Finance (Integrated Capital), ServiceSpace (Gift Ecology), and McKinsey & Company. He has a Bachelor’s from Arizona State and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Birju’s roles in life include volunteer, husband, father, friend, colleague. He is the son of first-generation Indian immigrants, and lives with his family in Berkeley, CA. A few values that Birju holds dear – authenticity, vulnerability, gratefulness, compassion, equanimity.

Grant Advisor

Yaminah Childress

Yaminah Childress is the Founder and Executive Director of the DREAM It Forward Foundation, a nonprofit who’s mission is to help build a foundation of knowledge, life skills, and cultural awareness to youth in under-served communities through mentoring. Yaminah has always had the strong desire to mentor single mothers and young women, being a young single-mother herself. Now she mentors both male and female youth ages 5-18, and single-mothers ages 25 and younger.

Over the course of her life, Yaminah has earned an Associates Degree in Secondary Education; a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, where she received the highest honor of Summa Cum Laude, and a Juris Doctorate Degree. Yaminah is also a Social Entrepreneur who wears many hats. However, her greatest achievement is being the mother to her three daughters, and son, who she refers to as SC4.

Grant Advisor

Vincent Atitwa

I was born into an amazing family and life with little resources and constrained life opportunities that left me wanting. Safety, food, education: these have always been absent to me. It was in my studies of social problems in Kenya and my community that I began to realize that for many people in the world, no matter how hard they choose to work, they cannot achieve the same level of security and access to resources. They may always be hungry. They may never attend school. This may be their path not because of their choices, but because of the situation they were born into. Since realizing this I committed to using business solutions to tackle local problems.

My background is in water engineering, finance and entrepreneurship, and now I focus on community development. I learned these skills as an early founder of a community based organization known as Matungu Community Development Charity(MCDC) that works together with community members in solving some of the pressing problems such as food insecurity, hunger and severe malnutrition, effects of climate change, and issues of public health. I was awarded a TPP grant for my project to cultivate orange flesh sweet potatoes, and also to establish a community computer lab.

I love what I do because of all the cliche things, including traveling to new locations, meeting new people who are passionate about life, and visiting the vulnerable members of communities . Additionally, I have a deep longing for the days as a child where the simple things in life rule every moment.

Grant Advisor

Victor Sjodin

Victor Sjodin was raised in the New York area, and got his start as a community organizer in Philadelphia, working campaigns such as: Book through Bars, Critical Mass bike rides, and Food Not Bombs; fundraising for political prisoners; Humane League’s foie gras ban (in which 52 out of 56 restaurants dropped foie gras); protests against the notorious animal testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences; and participating in the direct rescue or adoption of several hundred dogs, cats, laboratory rats, chickens, a pig and even a few humans.
For the last four years, Victor has dedicated his time to touring North America, visiting over 500 colleges and universities to promote an ethical vegan diet and lifestyle giving talks and handing out over 700,000 informative booklets to students. He has spent three summers on the annual Warped Tour, educating concertgoers on the horrors of factory farms, and helped coordinate state-based ballot initiatives. In 2011 he joined the national nonprofit Mercy For Animals for a 42-city, 12,000-mile, three-month tour on a specially outfitted video truck showing the documentary “Farm to Fridge” to the public. While on the road he has met and talked to millions, listening to their struggles and connecting the dots of economic injustice, racism, false values and media manipulation.

“We must change direction and walk out of the Saharan desert of materialism, ego, and base entertainment to realize our true purpose: the freedom of all. To this end the awake and courageous must rebel against the lies and propaganda of our government, media, education, and churches. Light must conquer dark, progress must triumph over stupidity, universal solidarity must triumph over greed,” explains Victor.

Grant Advisor

Ulfat Kazemi

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.”

Grant Advisor

Tony Joy

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.

Grant Advisor

Thomas Ponce

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 GoVegNews and a number of local newspapers. Thomas has received awards from The Pollination Project, PETA, his City Commissioners Office and the Farm Animal Rights Movement. Thomas’s work embodies his organizations motto” Don’t dream of Change, Lobby for it.”

Grant Advisor

Tara Gardner

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.”

Grant Advisor

Tamar Moss

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.

Grant Advisor

Suzan Joy

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.

Grant Advisor

Susan Silber

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.

Grant Advisor

Steve Barr

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.

Grant Advisor

Stephanie Klempner

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.

Grant Advisor

Sophia Hanson

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.

Grant Advisor

Sara 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.

Grant Advisor

Selassie Tay

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.

Grant Advisor

Shenika Jackson

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 training program. Dr. Jackson uses a module called TIP (Transforming the Impossible to Possible), a bottom-up practice in workforce development for low-income job seekers in Chicago. The module was developed by Phillip P. Hong, at Loyola University in the School of Social Work.

Grant Advisor

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.

Grant Advisor

Sara Trail

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.

Grant Advisor

Paul Talliard

Paul Talliard is founder of Hands of Honour, a Social Enterprise based in Cape Town, South Africa. Hands of Honour creates jobs for people who have experience hardship by up-cycling goods for sale. The program also has an environmental element – corporations act as partners, ‘donating their unwanted goods or obsolete stock rather than sending it to landfill .

Paul is the creator of the Angel Classroom on Wheels, a fully equipped fold-up Mini-Library and Puppet Theatre designed for children in vulnerable and under-resourced early learning centres. The classroom supports three learning areas: Numeracy, Literacy and Life-Skills, and is equipped with educational aids and reading books. In 2016, 20 Early Learning Centres benefited from a sponsored Angel Classroom on Wheels, with another 20 earmarked for delivery in January/February 2017.

Grant Advisor

Olympia Auset

Living and learning through the awakening experiences of Vippassana Meditation, Inippi ceremony, and many other transformational, synchronistic events in her journey, Olympia Auset has became steadfast in her commitment to creating infrastructure for a better earth. Having lived in neighborhoods across Los Angeles throughout her life, she has become very familiar with the differences in creativity, potential, and happiness which accompany differing food landscapes. She knows that no collective shift can be had without engaging the least empowered people, and no empowerment is possible without access to quality food- so she has set out to create a building block for our collective upliftment with SÜPRMARKT.

SÜPRMARKT brings affordable produce to the people and places that need it most in a weekly pop-up and subscription service poised to create a culture of equal access and conscious consumerism across the board. Since starting in 2016, SÜPRMARKT has served up hundreds of cases of organic produce and has been featured by AfropunkBlavityLA Weekly, and Forbes. 1.3 million people living in South LA have access to just 60 grocery stores and 23.5 million Americans are food insecure. With innovation, information, and inspiration as the heart of its operations, this is the climate SÜPRMARKT is working to change.

In addition to her role as founder of SÜPRMARKT, Olympia serves on the board of her local cooperative grocery.

Grant Advisor

Nathan Georgette

Nathan is currently a resident in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in Chicago. He has experience partnering with clinics in South Africa to use text messaging to help people living with HIV or Tuberculosis stay healthy. More broadly, he is passionate about using low-cost and sustainable technology to improve the health of underserved communities around the world.

Grant Advisor

Matthew Kaplan

Matthew is dedicated to ending middle school bullying one student at a time. When his younger brother was bullied at their middle school, Mathew wanted ‘somebody’ to do ‘something’ about it. The summer of his 8th grade year, he created The Be ONE Project, a community-building and bullying-prevention nonprofit organization for middle school students.

Through team-building games, activities, and guided discussions, Be ONE fosters empathy through shared experience. Students learn to celebrate similarities, rather than tear each other apart over differences. To date, The Be ONE Project has reached more than 5,000 students across four different states. Today, Matthew leads a team of dedicated program presenters that work with students across Arizona.

Matthew is currently an undergraduate at Duke University, where he self-designed a major around the theme of positive psychology. He was a recipient of a seed grant from The Pollination Project and later named TPP’s Thanksgiving Hero in 2013.

Grant Advisor

Maulid Mwinyikai

Maulid Hamisi Mwinyikai is from Mtongwe, Mombasa and has professional experience as a trained Environmental Activist, a renowned art and development practitioner in community development, health care, and team building. In 2000 Maulid was trained as a peer educator, organized by Mtongwe Community Initiative, Family health options Kenya and Action Aid Kenya. From 2007 to 2013 was trained as a professional actor, working in a theatre company, During the training he thought about the youth back in Mombasa and wondered what he could do to change their lives. When he got back home he mobilized youths and started a community based organization: Kishoka Youth Organization. The organization is an Art, Development and Environmental community based organization which does work aimed at Youth Empowerment and Environmental issues.

Maulid is dedicated in mobilizing young people and assisting them identify their potential so as to make the world a better place, to have more influence in society by participating in positive social change and to help people reuse and reduce plastic waste in a creative way.  He is excited about the opportunity to assist other grantees through mentorship and cross-pollination as an East African Leader, and looks forward to working with passion and integrity to support TPP’s grant making at the grassroots level.

Grant Advisor

Mbusa Bahweribugha Eric

Mbusa Bahweribugha Eric is the Founder and Programs Director of MUB – Home Foundation. MUB – Home Foundation is a Community Based Organization for women working to improve the living conditions of the under privileged community members who in their context includes women, children, youth, elderly, people with disabilities, people affected and infected with HIV/AIDS and those with life threatening illnesses. It is a not-for-profit, community based organization that was started in the year 2005.

Eric is a double trained teacher and has certified courses in Human Rights Approaches for Programming, Grants Management, Fundraising, Monitoring and Evaluation.

Eric believes that everybody has the potential to live a better life; given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation, anyone can become someone admirable. Nobody is a nobody, everybody is somebody.

Grant Advisor

Miriam Wambui

Miriam is passionate about empowering unprivileged youth, especially girls from the informal settlements through information and computer technology, “ICT”. She believes that we are all equals but we don’t get the same opportunities. She says, “I am where I am today because I got a life changing opportunity that has shaped me to the person I am today.” Her vision is to give these youth an opportunity to education by facilitating ICT trainings in the informal settlements so they can be able to use the skills to get jobs or venture into entrepreneurship.

After graduating from NairoBits Trust with a Diploma in ICT, she has been privileged to work in different organizations including NairoBits, where she currently runs the Girls in ICT project. Miriam has also initiated her own initiative, Maendeleo Mtaa, which aims to reach out to more youths through ICT. Miriam’s objective is to reduce youth unemployment, thus eradicating poverty in the informal settlements and contributing to broader social change.

To read more about Miriam’s Pollination Project Grant, click here.

Grant Advisor

Mary-Justine Todd

Mary-Justine Todd, an international humanitarian expert consultant, with more than ten years of experience, has a Master’s Degree in International Public Health, from New York University, as well as a Master’s of Arts in International Studies, from the University of Iowa. Both degrees and much of her work has been focused on refugees, internally displaced people, and specifically, women from under-privileged communities, post conflict zones, and humanitarian disaster areas.

Mary-Justine is the founder and CEO of Women’s Crisis Care International (WCCI), through which she initiated the first and only violence crisis intervention program for women in the Arabian gulf and the Middle East. She is a New York State rape crisis counselor, a certification which she earned from Columbia University Hospitals in New York City, where she was also the President of the advisory board for their violence crisis response program.

She has been working in, managing and evaluating humanitarian and health programs around the world including in places such as NYC, Liberia, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait. She is fluent in English, Swahili, French and is learning Arabic. In 2014, Mary-Justine received a seed grant from The Pollination Project in support of her work with WCCI.

Grant Advisor

Maria Maneos

Maria Maneos earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Art Degree from Arcadia University located in Glenside, Pa and accomplished her Masters of Fine Art Degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts located in Philadelphia, PA. Her paintings have been shown extensively in the Philadelphia area in such galleries as Artists’ House in Old(e) City and Art in City Hall as well as some galleries in the New York Metropolitan area.

In 2013 she started the now nonprofit program, Brush with the Law. The idea to start this: (1) stemmed from her work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Rehabilitation located in Philadelphia where she developed and implemented a class and worked with the patients (elderly, stroke victims, disabled veterans, dementia) of the facility using the arts for therapeutic purposes, and (2) her son’s unforeseen addiction to heroin that inevitably led to his arrest, conviction, and sentencing to prison for a non-violent offense.
Visiting him in jail brought to light for her the lack of, or for the most part nonexistent rehabilitative programming absent within most of our country’s overcrowded and overburdened prison system. Her son’s experiences shattered Maria’s illusions concerning the rehabilitative goals enshrined in the charter of correctional institutions. She soon learned that inmates for the majority of the day have few – if any – emotional, educational, or social outlets, to help alleviate, and lessen feelings of self-defeat, depression, and cynicism that ultimately further entraps them in a cycle of crime and drug addiction.

Brush With the Law started in 2013 as a simple idea for an art program inside of the county jail of Montgomery County, PA and has since grown. We now work with professional artists who lead and guide socially marginalized people such as parolees/probation, those afflicted with drug addiction, behavioral and mental health, disabled veterans, at-risk youth, and many more people doing city beautification projects like murals and site-specific art installations throughout Montgomery, Bucks, and Delaware Counties in the Southeaster region of PA doing community service. Our work is meant to inspire meaningful changes and lasting improvements in the critical social issues affecting these populations and to inspire positive change in thought from society as a whole in their views and interpretations of them. Brush with the Law has received Pollination Project Seed Grant and Impact Grant funding in support of their work.

Grant Advisor

Maria de La Soledad Saburido Alvarez

Sole has been working at SOMOS Semilla since 2015, with a big mission: spread to the community the love for seeds and the importance of seed saving for biodiversity preservation. SOMOS Semilla brings education and food sovereignty to the community, strengthening the long-term health of our environment through seed saving. We work to provide seeds and educational tools and materials. We believe that seed saving is elemental for maintaining people’s traditions and cultural identity.

Sole is from Galicia, Spain, has a PhD in Plant Biology, and is co-founder and co-coordinator fo SOMOS Semilla Community Seed Library, in San Miguel de Allende, México, where she lives with her husband and two kids. She passionately teaches Simple Living courses, about making your own natural and sustainable health and self care products, natural dyes and eco-print for textiles, and wild fermentations for make your own “medicine” foods.

More formal BIO: Soledad Saburido Álvarez has been the coordinator, together with Jennifer Ungemach, Emily C-D and Mariana Macías, of the Somos Semilla Seed Library, in San Miguel de Allende (Guanajuato, Mexico) since 2015. Born in Galicia, Spain, she has a degree in Plant Biology and she did her doctorate with a thesis based on the study of the evolution and genetics of common beans. In 2012 she arrived to Mexico to make a postdoctoral stay at the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity (Langebio), Cinvestav; and after that period she began the first steps of Somos Semilla. The Seed Library continues to grow, and they have carried out numerous workshops, courses, and events related to the conservation of seeds in the area, including coordinating with the organization of the first Mexican Meeting of Seed Guardians in March 2017.

Grant Advisor

Liz Buechele

Liz Buechele is the Founder and Executive Director of The Smile Project. In 2011, Liz Buechele started writing down what made her happy. One “Happiness is” at a time. This practice of daily joy grew into The Smile Project. She has worked for several nonprofit organizations including DoSomething.org, Riverside Church, the American Heart Association, YEA Camp, and the American Montessori Society.

Liz loves being involved with The Pollination Project, first as a grantee, later as a member of the Global Kindness Program, and, of course, as a grant advisor. She has had the privilege of meeting so many members of TPP’s community and feels so grateful for the lifelong friendships TPP has given her. She is passionate about youth empowerment and kindness. She enjoys writing, running, traveling, and watching the dogs at the Union Square Dog Park in New York City.

Grant Advisor

Jimmy Amone

In 1994, when I was about 7 years old, my parents left the village to settle in the City due to the civil war unrest in Northern Uganda. From that time until 2010 when I returned home, I lived away from my home. While away, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Technology from Nkumba University in Uganda. Once I had completed my degree, and with the spirit of volunteerism and compassion that I had towards life, I wanted to use my new knowledge and experiences gained in Information Communication Technology, leadership, debate, and sports to help my community.

So now I see myself at the forefront in helping my community recover from the destruction caused by the 23 years of civil war unrest in Northern and Uganda as a whole. This is specifically being done through formation of Community Based Organizations such as Northern Uganda Debate Society, Acholi Youths for Sustainable Development, and Kitgum Basketball Association – a basketball project for which I received a TPP grant.

In addition to my work with these organizations, I am also helping to guide and mentor groups and individuals to bridge the information gap between them and the world by promoting ICT. Again With all these experiences, I see myself as one of the next generation of change makers that will help make the world a better place to live in.

Grant Advisor

Jude Thaddues Njikem

Jude Thaddues is a youth leader with over half a decade of experience on issues of Human Rights, Gender and Youth Participation. While in secondary school, Jude started an initiative called Youth for Equality: a student initiative that raised awareness on the rights of young people. Since that time, Jude has organized conferences and symposiums and built partnerships with other organizations to empower youth and fight inequalities that girls and women face. Jude’s work focuses on issues such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and gender based violence, while promoting Human Rights for all.

Jude is Associate Fellow at the Royal Commonwealth Society; currently Cameroon country coordinator for the Organization of African Youth; Youth Advocacy Team Member with the United Network of Young Peace builders, where he and his peers advocate for youth inclusion in peace building at the UN; and a Board Member of the Centre for Education and Entrepreneurial Development. Jude has also carried out research into the role of young people in ending child marriage, as well as research into African Youth Development.

Grant Advisor

Kahlida Nicole Lloyd

Kahlida Nicole Lloyd is a believer, attorney, teacher; but most importantly a reconciler. As the founder of Mission Reconcile, Kahlida has a love for people and a love for bringing people together.

Through the vision of Mission Reconcile, Kahlida seeks to bring together the church- the body of Christ by connecting predominantly one race churches – predominantly white churches and predominantly black churches to talk about race, racism and create organic relationships through the lens of Jesus.

Kahlida is a proud graduate of Florida State University, a predominantly white institution (PWI) and North Carolina Central University School of Law, a historically black college and university (HBCU). Kahlida holds degrees in Communication, Political Science and Law.
Kahlida believes that the answer to our hurting and divided nation is the church and it starts with a conversation. Start a conversation.

Grant Advisor

Leslie Mestman

Leslie brings more than 16 years of innovative program development and management in non-profits, education, government and the private sector. Specializing in new program development, she has extensive experience in stakeholder/partner identification and recruitment, contract development and compliance monitoring, outcome-based planning and managing multi-million dollar budgets. She is the founder of Off the Sideline, a health equity focused non-profit that aims to strengthen communities by providing scholarships to low-income youth that enable them to play team sports. After starting her career in social services, she spent a decade in energy-efficiency and now works for Portland Community College where she manages a team responsible for programming hundreds of non-credit and CEU course for over 25,000 students a year. She has a BA in Environmental Studies and an MA in Political Science.

Grant Advisor

Jenny Nuccio

Jenny Nuccio is the Founder and President of Imani Collective—a non-profit woman-empowerment program focused on defeating generational poverty through education and employment opportunities in Mombasa, Kenya and surrounding communities. The collective facilitates change by underscoring the innate value of each woman while encouraging her to learn, create, and grow to her fullest potential as an artisan, and received funding from The Pollination Project in support of this work.
With a bachelor’s degree in Leadership Development and a master’s degree in Leadership Education and Communications, Jenny has a well-rounded background in both academic research and practical application for implementing long-term solutions to the global challenge of disenfranchised women and children in developing regions. Having lived as an integral part of her Kenyan community since 2013, she is committed to the collaborative advancement of equitable opportunity for the friends she works with every day, as well as for marginalized populations world-wide.

Jenny is currently completing her Doctorate of Education in Leadership Education with an emphasis on leadership within international contexts.
She also is a lifestyle blogger and educational speaker.

You can connect with Jenny at jennynuccio.com and learn more about Imani Collective at imanicollective.com

Grant Advisor

Iweka Kingsley

Iweka Kingsley is the Author of DAPPLED THINGS and the Founder of Africa-OnTheRise, an online media platform that monitors, analyses and publishes ONLY positive and progressive content on Africa, for which he received a Pollination Project grant.

He believes that conversations play a critical role in shaping people’s opinions and influencing their decisions and actions, and if we are able to change the nature of conversations that Africans have, especially with young people, then we can inspire hope and actions towards building a better continent by the year 2030.

Grant Advisor

Hana El Safoury

Hana is a proud Egyptian currently finishing up her B.A at Wesleyan University in CT. Her curiosity about people around her and their stories led her to Anthropology. Nothing brings her more joy than overthinking and endlessly questioning the motivations behind the smallest of actions to place them in our common grand narrative. Hana is especially interested in stories that highlight the overarching system of oppression and the endless undercurrents of its resistance. Hana has recently entered the progressive philanthropy movement as an intern at the Indie Philanthropy Initiative. She is excited to continue to support work that is challenging the status quo of giving, centering social returns and reimagining impact by taking risks.

Grant Advisor

George Reginald Freeman

George Reginald Freeman is a dedicated sexual health educator, feminist, researcher, circular transformation agent, and human rights defender for people marginalized and discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

He provides training, moral and technical support to African asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants, migrants and refugees including LGBTQI people in Spain, Germany, Belgium and France with their asylum process and court proceedings. In partnership with UNHCR Catalan Committee, George has been a champion and motivational speaker through the awareness-raising campaign titled “We listen to Refugees”, financed by different public administrations of the Government of Catalonia since 2014.

With support from The Pollination Project (TPP) in 2017, George published the first report in Spain titled “Unveil the Lens of Unspoken Reality” which highlights challenges and proffer recommendations currently implemented to minimize the rate of discrimination and other degrading and inhumane treatment asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees encounter.

He has worked extensively in national and international research on sexual reproductive health and human rights of LGBTQI people, youths, street children, and women’s human rights within the Mano River Union, especially in Sierra Leone.

George was the first person that spoke out publicly and actively engaged Sierra Leone Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, National AIDS Secretariat, Ministry of Health and Sanitation National AIDS Control Program ensuring that LGBTQI issues are factored in the mandate of the operational and strategic implementation plan with free access to treatment for sexual transmitted infections and condoms respectively. Regarding the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, he has successfully advocated for LGBTQI rights which are now protected under minority rights of the commission in 2011.

He studied International Law with professional legal training on Protection of Forced Migrants under the European Convention of Human Rights at the University of Barcelona, Law School. His experience in project management includes fund raising, responsibility for managing contractual issues, information and administrative systems, implementing and monitoring LGBTI projects within Europe and Mano River Union, development and maintenance of an external grants database, vetting and negotiations of funding contracts and acting as liaison between funding agencies and institutions.

George is a proud International Human Rights Grant Advisor for The Pollination Project (TPP), board member for African LGBTI network in Spain, Honorary member of Airbnb project in Barcelona, Spain and also a Development consultant for Global Unification International.

Check out George’s organization website at: http://prideequality.org/

Grant Advisor

Elli Weisbaum

Elli Weisbaum grew up in the world of education and mindfulness, attending her first mindfulness retreat at the age of 10. In high-school she began creating and co-facilitating workshops with her mother for parents and at-risk youth that used mindfulness as a basis for personal transformation and conflict resolution.

She is currently completing a Master’s degree at York University’s Environmental Studies program, focused on cultivating mindfulness in education. She has also worked as a producer in the film industry, and has used her knowledge of film production to create several short documentary films exploring mindfulness as a secular education tool.

Over the past three years, Elli has toured with monastics in the tradition of Nobel Peace Prize nominee, scholar and internationally renowned Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh (a.k.a. the Plum Village Community), to bring mindfulness into schools and universities around the world. This work has included a tour of universities on the East Coast of the United States, a conference at the American School in London, organizing a program development intensive at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Germany, co-facilitating workshops in Bhutan, in coordination with the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre, along with one month of workshops for teachers, parents and students, at schools in New Delhi, India.

In the Summer of 2012, she became the international program coordinator for Plum Village’s mindfulness in education initiative entitled “Wake Up Schools”, working from their centres in France, Germany and the United States. Her ongoing work with Plum Village focuses on a holistic approach to education, working simultaneously with teachers, students, parents and school administrators, to cultivate sustainable mindfulness communities.

Grant Advisor

Elle Morgan

Elle Morgan’s diverse experience ranges from being a counselor at a youth wilderness center, a teacher at an inner city arts/career learning center and a newspaper and magazine writer. As a freelance writer she covers topics on health and wellness, spirituality, and women’s leadership.

She lives in State College, PA with her husband Terry and their dog Willy. She is currently the director of a retreat center on 36-acres of woodland in Clearfield County where she runs her program, The Elements of New Life Scripts for at-risk youth, women and anyone interested in personal transformation.

Grant Advisor

Dorcas Apoore

Dorcas Apoore dream to contribute towards the agenda for youth and women empowerment pushed her to form a Non-Governmental Organization known as Advocacy for Social Inclusion and Girls Education (ASIGE) with a vision to break the cycle of poverty through sustainable livelihood empowerment initiatives for women and young people in Ghana. ASIGE has trained women to acquire skills in turning waste materials into bags and baskets as well as using straw and raffia in weaving baskets. Women’s Basket Weaving is a strategic long-term project to eliminate poverty among women and youth. ASIGE’s Basket Weaving creates wealth by allowing women to work in a group to harness the power of synergy. This dream came through with the support of a grant from The Pollination Project in 2017/2018. ASIGE has completed the construction of a multipurpose women empowerment center to train more women with the vision of eliminating extreme poverty. ASIGE also work with persons with disabilities. Through this initiative, we touched the lives of over 2000 adolescent girls and boys on issues related to menstrual hygiene, menstruation and sexuality after we realized they are contributory factors to drop out among girls. Dorcas is a MasterCard Foundation at Camfed Ghana Scholar. Due to the immense contribution of ASIGE to the SDGs, Dorcas was selected as one of the 16 young leaders around the world by the European Commission in 2018, where she made a presentation to a high level panel on women in Business, The use of Technology and Women in Agriculture in Belgium. Again Dorcas was sent to Italy at the Friendship amongst people Rimini to make a presentation on women and Development. Also Dorcas was again selected by the Ministry of economic corporation of the German Government to exhibit the baskets made by the women she is empowering and also visited and gave motivational speeches to students at Technical and high schools in Berlin and Neuruppin. ASIGE is becoming a global organization through the effort of Dorcas and the products are sold worldwide.

Grant Advisor

Desire Johnson

Desire Johnson-Forte is an Oakland native who received her B.A in English from Mills College (Creative Writing) and minor in Ethnic Studies. Between her full time work and passion oriented consulting: she uses shared narrative to transform the possibilities society & culture have outlined for black youth;a budding innovator of pilot-program participatory implementation & monitoring. She works full-time as the Downtown TAY Program Manager, and is a youth co-facilitator at Oakland’s Youth Impact Hub. In between time she runs her (3) social enterprises: the BIZ Stoop (educational consulting, life style curation, and youth development); Damn Good Teas (natural ready-made herbal tea beverage); and Luv Euphor (crafts & artisan goods).

Grant Advisor

Derek Young

Derek Young is a veteran CSR/Sustainability and communications professional with nearly 17 years of experience. He is recognized as a thought leader capable of working across industries, analyzing and determining needs and opportunities for value creation and building and delivering strategic CSR/Sustainability programs, messaging and branding campaigns, and community and stakeholder engagement efforts.

Derek has worked in the public policy, non-profit, for profit and consulting sectors and has developed deep experience in the areas of strategic analysis, corporate sustainability, communications, message development and branding, energy and water efficiency, corporate responsibility, non-profit partnerships, charitable giving, and community and stakeholder engagement.

Derek has helped to start and lead CSR and Sustainability programs at several corporations and most recently developed and lead the Responsible Business function globally for TGI Fridays restaurant chain. In 2014 Derek joined Edelman Public Relations as a contract employee providing council and support to the Dallas offices corporate and consumer practice areas as well as providing subject matter expertise on Business and Social Purpose issues. He supports clients ranging from an innovative biosciences company to an international non-profit focused on reducing food waste and alleviating childhood hunger.

Derek is part of several boards including the Grant Advisory Board for The Pollination Project, the Steering Committee for the Dallas Corporate Citizenship Network the Food Advisory Council for the North Texas Food Bank and has served as a past Advisory Council member for Sustainable Brands.

Grant Advisor

David Omondi

David graduated with a BSc. Medical Biochemistry Degree of the University of Nairobi and returned to his community of Obunga Slum where he founded Riley Orton Foundation Org (ROF), Kenyan nonprofit supporting underprivileged girls to break the cycle of poverty by implementing sustainable education programs.

Having been raised in Obunga slum and seeing women and children struggle to survive and break free from poverty, he has always been determined to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the less privileged in his community. He started Akili Library and Information Technology center in fall of 2010, and Akili Preparatory School for Girls in Jan 2012. He has seen the growth of the library and the school over the years into a center of excellence supporting 85 underprivileged girls and adding 15 more every year as the school expands.

As the Founder/Director of Operations at ROF, he is involved in managing the Akili library and preparatory School, Akili sustainable farm, recruiting teachers, researching and writing grants, partnership development and organizing training for staff as well as coordinating volunteer activities. David received a TPP grant in support of Akili Girls for girls Digital Skills Project in 2014.

He says that he is driven by an innate desire to create sustainable change from the inside with the local community as the development experts. He has been privileged to volunteer as a grant advisor with the pollination project and is excited to continue to be part of East Africa Leadership Program and help create sustainable change in his community through his Inua Jamii Project.

David is inspired, motivated and privileged to work with TPP and fellow East Africa leaders to build his capacity to connect women and girl’s empowerment projects in his community  to TPP funding, and to help local change-makers achieve their mission. David says that the Pollination Project is changing lives and he enjoys being part of that change process in his community.

Grant Advisor

Anne Udoh

Anne holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Strategic Studies with extensive working experience in the non profit sector. She has worked in multicultural environments in Africa and South America. She is the Founder of a Nigerian based non-governmental organization – Better Future Initiative – that focuses on social advocacy, health and empowerment and also the host of a weekly live interactive radio program for creating social awareness in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

Grant Advisor

Catherine Perry

An ethical vegan, Catherine Perry teaches French and Francophone literatures, cultures, and film at the University of Notre Dame, where she also serves as advisor to the fledgling student club VegND, created in 2015. Passionate about social justice, human rights, animal rights, and environmental rights, she integrates these values in her courses. She is also keen on teaching materials that promote intercultural dialogue and understanding. In the Michiana region where she lives, she has been organizing Meetups for veg*ns, not only to provide mutual encouragement but also to raise awareness of their presence in the community. Having lived in both Switzerland and Morocco for many years, Catherine has extensive international experience. It is a joy and an honor for her to work for an association that advocates peace and compassion and that supports people who dedicate their energy to these great causes.