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2024 Board of Directors

Sarah Gillund – President

Sarah Gillund is a Northeast resident and graphic designer. She currently works at the Minneapolis Foundation as their Design and Digital Media Manager. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2018, Sarah spent almost a decade working in nonprofits, most recently as Youth Frontiers’ Communications and Marketing Manager. She is a graduate of both Augsburg University and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, connecting with friends and family, and playing with her corgi, Mose.

Meg Ekre – Vice President

Meg Erke is a 2D mixed media artist working with gouache and watercolor collage. Her work is inspired by the natural world and the accessibility of outdoor spaces in the Minneapolis metro. Meg is a life long educator, first working in middle schools and high schools as an art teacher and now as an arts integration advocate and a teaching artist. Meg’s goal while serving on NEMAA’s board is to help artists understand and use the resources available to them through their membership and help build community for artist without studio space in Northeast.

Cynthia Berg – Treasurer

For over 30 years, Cynthia Berg has helped lead civic and nonprofit organizations and has cultivated a professional career growing mission-driven brands. She is a military veteran and has served in senior roles centered around financial management, strategic planning, and communications. Today, Cynthia leverages both her business and creative genius to design visionary, creative brands, as well as expand her reach as a professional mixed media artist and writer. Her goal as a NEMAA board member is to innovate and support programs and events that amplify the artist community and steer the organization toward continued sustainable growth.

Edie Rose – Secretary

Edie Rose is a visual artist and event coordinator based out of Northeast Minneapolis. She is the cofounder of the Society for the Strange & Unusual, an art collective bringing alternative and dark artists together to curate environments that connect artists with their community. Blending digital and acrylic art, her work focuses primarily on the fantastical, whimsical, and the divine feminine. With a background in small business management, she made the decision to branch out and make her dreams come true for herself and others. With event coordinating, she strives to bring this opportunity to artists in both the beginning stages of their career and artists that have established their practice. In partnership with NEMAA, her hope is to continue building spaces of artistic freedom while accommodating for physical and socioeconomic barriers that foster creativity in both artists and non artists alike.

Don Ball

Don is a painter and printmaker who toils evenings and weekends in his basement studio in Richfield. By day, he works as a communications director for GREATER MSP. He spent the previous decade as co-founder of the Twin Cities’ first co-working space. A former Northeast resident, Don remains in love with the neighborhood and its art community and wants to make sure NE artists prosper for years to come.

Jean Marie Durant

Jean Marie Durant, a Minneapolis native with over two decades of leadership experience spanning New York to San Francisco, brings a wealth of expertise to the NEMAA board. With a background in leading creative divisions for renowned apparel retailers such as Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic, Jean Marie seamlessly transitioned into nonprofit leadership roles. As the former president of the board of directors and executive director of Oakland Art Murmur, a 501c3 organization in California, she has demonstrated her commitment to fostering creative environments and building cultural movements. Her recent focus is on guiding emerging artists, mentoring small businesses and consulting for apparel retailers nationwide. With a passion for the arts and the ability to forge strong partnerships, Jean Marie is dedicated to maximizing the impact of artistic initiatives and advocating for the transformative power of the arts. She is a passionate advocate of sustainability and circular consumer practices, exemplified by taking the “buy nothing new” approach in her personal life.

Philli Irvin

Philli Irvin, a native of North Minneapolis, is a multidisciplinary artist and entrepreneur. As the founder and executive director of Intro To Success (ITS), he is dedicated to supporting early-career Black and Brown artists through resources, funding, and creative spaces. Joining the board of NEMAA, Philli eagerly seeks to forge new and meaningful connections within the Minneapolis arts community. Guided by a profound belief in the transformative power of art, he aims to foster inclusivity and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships among artists, creators, businesses, organizations, and the diverse individuals that comprise communities. By embracing a shared vision and collective goals, Philli envisions an interconnected arts scene in Minneapolis that celebrates the richness of creativity, honors the people, and positively impacts the entire community.

Robert Kasak

Robert Kasak is the owner and co-founder of 612Brew, a craft brewery in Northeast Minneapolis. During his time at 612Brew, he has led a team of more than 20 employees by overseeing daily sales and operations. Before this role, Robert worked for several Fortune 500 companies in downtown Minneapolis where he acted as a Strategic Sourcing and Procurement Manager. Robert holds a bachelor’s degree in management and leadership from Concordia University where he graduated suma cum laude. A NEMAA board member since 2018, Robert works to engage with other local NE Mpls businesses and acts as the pulse of the business community for the board.

Lydia Millard

Lydia Millard is a Sr. Business Partner at Target experienced in retail, healthcare, transportation, and hospitality. She is skilled in training and developing leaders, conflict resolution, active listening skills, analytical abilities, and communication. She has done volunteer work for programs such as Youth Career Workshop, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Refugee Meal Baskets.

Anna Palmquist

Anna Palmquist is a practicing Northeast artist and the owner of Anna: Stargirl Art. She is a mixed media artist, photographer, designer, and writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University. She is also the Marketing Manager for a small resort business. Anna serves on the NEMAA Board because she believes in the power of a unified group of artist members and artist supporters working together toward common aspirations. We are stronger together then we are as individuals. Off the clock, she can be found practicing yoga, cycling, swing trading, researching real-estate opportunities, restoring old houses, or hanging with her friends, husband, and three wacky cats at their home in Northeast and her family farm in Wisconsin.

Suyao Tian

Suyao Tian is an artist, designer, and owner of Viewpoint gallery and outerwear company Modern Cover™. She studied and taught Music Education in China before moving to the US in 2011 to study art & design. She holds a BA in Fine Art from the University Central Arkansas and an MFA in Design and Branding Identity from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her paintings have been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, along with curating multiple group shows across the country. While curating, painting, running the gallery and Modern Cover™, and raising her son, she continues to be a strong and active member across organizations within the art and creative communities of the Twin Cities. She currently also serves on the Executive Board of Art Buddies, and is passionately engaged with multiple galleries and organizations across the state.

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