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12/5/2013
MINNESOTA NEWSPAPER ASSN

Top Midwest Networks Merging in Effort to Spark Regional Transformation Through Digital and Physical Convenings

OTA and Pollen, two powerhouse crowdsourced networking organizations, leverage the power of people and possibility in game-changing merger. Not just for the Midwest, but the nation.

Fargo, ND / Sioux Falls, SD/ St. Paul, MN -- December 5, 2013 -- This isn't your typical job board. This isn't just any networking organization. And the events are anything but ordinary. OTA and Pollen, two incredible organizations that work to collide and connect creative and civic-minded individuals, are colliding themselves.
And, in the process, they believe they might just spark a regional transformation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota with a world class network of individuals, organizations, communities and ideas. Not familiar with OTA or Pollen?

Over the past five years OTA has formed a movement dedicated to 'connecting the disconnected' throughout North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Led by South Dakota native Hugh Weber, the OTA series of events brings together the region's best and brightest along with world thought leaders to share insights and
expertise, develop relationships and create limitless possibility.

Pollen, over the past five years, has grown to become the Twin Cities' largest digital network of civic-minded connectors. The content is crowdsourced and created by a cross-sector community focused on elevating the personal and professional growth of its members. Long-term Pollen volunteers, and co-founders of the literary arts magazine Paper Darts, Jamie Millard and Meghan Murphy, recently transitioned to become the organization's main leadership stewards.

Earlier this summer, each organization was approached by the Bush Foundation about working together to explore ways to further develop their unique platforms.

"Isolated leaders are a barrier to effective community problem-solving," said Jennifer Ford Reedy, president of the Bush Foundation. "Our region has a number of leadership hubs and networks that struggle to build and maintain connections among their members. Very little has been done to build connections across these groups. That's where OTA and Pollen can think bigger, think differently, and spark regional transformation-by becoming the leading digital and physical network of networks."

Over a series of meals and plenty of coffee, both organizations began to realize what might be gained by designing the future together with support from the Bush Foundation. "We recognized a clear sense of shared values and a deep sense of commitment to investing in the dreams and stories of the people of the region," said Hugh Weber, chief executive officer, OTA-Pollen. "Simply, together we felt we could accomplish even more."

As the merger was finalized, one unexpected opportunity for innovation emerged - bringing Hugh Weber, Meghan Murphy, and Jamie Millard into a shared co-executive leadership model. "We want to see what happens when an entrepreneur, artist, and a champion of social change unite under one leadership team," said Jamie Millard, executive director, OTA-Pollen. "Together, we are cultivating a petri dish of creativity, pragmatism, and idealism from across the region and globe."

A portion of the Bush Foundation investment will lead to the substantial infusion in the region's creative freelance market.

"Where there is inspiration, there will be resources for action. We want to make the Midwest a prosperous space for dreaming and for doing," said Meghan Murphy, creative executive director, OTA-Pollen. "We will seek out the most talented writers, illustrators, photographers and makers to competitively compensate them as they capture the inspiring stories of leaders throughout our region."

The three states can also expect dramatically scaled in-person experiences, leading to the creation of a world class platform for the people of this region. "I think this can become the new Rotary in some ways - appealing to the next generation with coordinated service projects, educational opportunities, networking, etc," said a Pollen member.

In the next 6 months OTA-Pollen will file for its official nonprofit status, forming its board of directors, and undergoing a unified branding process. In the meantime, OTA-Pollen is under fiscal sponsorship by MAP for Nonprofits, an organization that provides consulting and training for nonprofit, social enterprise and philanthropic organizations.

OTA-Pollen is a community accessible organization to anyone that is trying to build, create, grow, dream and do, as individuals, organizations and communities. Find out how you can get engaged here: www.ota-pollen.org

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If you would like more information, or to schedule an interview with the leadership team: Contact:Hugh Weber, (605) 413-8436, hugh@ota-pollen.org

 

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OTA-Pollen Co-Executive Directors Meghan Murphy, Jamie Millard and Hugh Weber.

 

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