Groundswell's accomplishments rely on a combination of project directors, artists, community partners, youth participants, interns and volunteers. Our ethnically and professionally diverse board brings expertise in organizational and program development. As we collaborate with local organizations in facilitating our mural projects, we also everage the staff and resources of our community partners.



Amy Sananman

Motivated by her long-standing fascination with murals, Sananman conceived of Groundswell in 1996 with the mission to bring together professional artists, grassroots organizations and communities to create high quality murals in under-represented neighborhoods and inspire youth to take active ownership of their future by equipping them with the tools necessary for social change.  Over the past fifteen years Groundswell has worked with thousands of community members to complete more than 300 collaboratively designed and painted murals across New York City. From the Bronx to Brooklyn, Groundswell’s murals have visually transformed neighborhoods through celebrating cultural diversity and unity, telling stories of community empowerment and challenges overcome and giving youth a voice to speak to their immediate communities and the general public.  Sananman holds a masters degree in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley.  Her accolades include NYU/Wagner School’s Rudin Award for Community Service through the Arts and the prestigious 2006 Union Square Award for her leadership in developing Groundswell as a grassroots asset. She has presented and served on numerous panels speaking on arts as a tool for social change including events hosted by the Bronx Museum of Art, the New School for Social Research, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, Teachers College, CUNY’s Hunter School of Social Work and the Partnership for After School Education. She currently lectures at Pratt Institute on Arts and Community Development.  Sananman lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young children.


Patrick Dougher

Groundswell's Program Director Patrick Dougher was born and raised in Brooklyn. He is an artist, musician and educator with over 15 years experience in working for community based arts and social justice organizations. Dougher holds a BFA in art education from Brooklyn College but much of his education has been experiential and was gained on the front line and streets of NYC. He has worked as an art therapist at Kings County Hospital, a teaching artist and after school program director for the Mc Burney YMCA, a youth counselor and program coordinator at Project Reach NYC and assistant curator at The Museum of African Art. Most recently Dougher served as the Director of Groundwork for Success, a youth and community empowerment organization in East New York. He has made the education and socio-emotional support of the underserved youth of the city his life’s mission. Patrick Dougher is a proud father, a vegetarian, an activist and a spiritual rebel with a cause.



Sharon Polli

Sharon Polli joined the staff of Groundswell in 2011 as Director of Development and Communications, and brings ten years of arts administration experience to the organization. Prior to joining the Groundswell team, Polli was Director of Development for BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn, a multidisciplinary arts and media organization active in the disciplines of contemporary art, performing arts and community media. During her time at BRIC, Polli worked with the Board and staff to get the organization into a state of readiness for the opening of BRIC House, a state-of-the-art arts and media center planned for the BAM Cultural District. While at BRIC, Polli secured grants from leading funders to support ongoing and new programming initiatives, oversaw the launch of the organization’s newly-designed website, and developed BRIC’s inaugural annual report. Polli began her professional career in the Twin Cities, where she gained hands-on experience in arts and education working with a range of organizations, including the Walker Art Centre, Frank Theatre, and SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development. She has served as a panelist for the grant program offered by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Polli is a graduate of Carleton College, where she was named a William Carleton Scholar and graduated magna cum laude with distinction with a dual degree in Theater and Sociology. Polli lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.



Jess Poplawski

Groundswell's Program Manager, Jessica holds a BFA in printmaking from Pratt Institute. She has worked with Groundswell as both an artist and a staff member. A Chicago native, she is now a Brooklyn-based artist involved in the self-publishing and independent music communities in NYC.


Madeleine LeMieux

Groundswell's Development and Communications Associate, Madeleine works to provide fundraising, communications and social media support. She holds a BFA with emphasis in Art History, Theory and Criticism from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA from New York University in Visual Arts Administration. She contributes her experience as an artist, administrator and youth program coordinator.


Sophia Dawson

Sophia started at Groundswell as a youth, has worked as an assistant and lead artist. She holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and is currently pursuing her Masters in Arts Administration from NYU. She serves as Groundswell’s first Office Manager.  



Trey Gantt

Trey Gantt is Groundswell's Youth Advocate. He holds a BA in English and a BA in Black Studies. He has many years of experience with working with adolescents and young adults from all walks of life. His primary goal with each young person that he works with is to provide them with the tools and resources necessary to help them make ultimate life decisions and choices for themselves. He believes that all young people need is love, support, direction, and a chance.



Adan Palermo

Adan has been working with Groundswell as a youth participant for nearly four years and recently graduated from Fort Hamilton High School, Brooklyn. He joins us now as our Program Intern, helping the program staff with operational tasks while learning about how the programs he has participated in, run internally.


Current Artists

Tanya Linn Albrigtsen-Frable

Tanya Linn Albrigtsen-Frable (Mensen) is a muralist, photographer, illustrator, activist and youth educator.  She has been painting murals since 2001 and mentoring youth since 2005 and studied at Parsons and Lang.  She has shown work in New York, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Portland, and Tenerife, Spain.  Keep up with her evolving projects at msmensen.blogspot.com.

Grace Baley

Grace Baley is a mosaic artist and educator. She recieved both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Masters in Science from New York University. Grace creates her mosaic pieces using the stained glass that she collects from a wide variety of sources and has a range of work spanning from small decorative pieces, to portraits and custom installations. She also teaches mosaic workshops to both children and adults and enjoys taking them on tours of the NYC subway mosaics that inspire her. You can view her work at www.gracebaley.com.


Belle Benfield

Belle Benfield is an active muralist, painter and printmaker.  She received her bachelors degree from Goldsmiths College, London in 2001 and her MFA from University College Falmouth in 2009.  Belle has done artist residencies in Santiago de Cuba and in Buenos Aires and has exhibited her work in Europe and America.  She has won awards for her work from the Brooklyn Arts Council, The Arts and Humanities Research Council, The Bower Trust and most recently the Sandra Blow Scholarship.  Since 2001, Belle has lived in Brooklyn, working as a lead artist with Groundswell, making art, and teaching art workshops in schools and after-school programs.  She has stood in as Acting Director at Groundswell in 2006 and 2009.

Crystal Clarity

Crystal Clarity was born and raised in New York City. For over five years, she has been the Visual Arts Instructor at El Puente; an after-school community center in the heart of Bushwick. There she facilitates art classes that inspire youth to be leaders who are self-expressed guardians of their own community through using art as a lens to observe themselves and the world. Over the past two years she has worked with Groundswell Community Mural Project assisting and leading large-scale mural projects around the city while using art as a tool to engage critical community issues and to create young leaders and agents of change. She is now continuing her studies at the Parsons School of Design while continuing her work with the youth of Brooklyn.

Yana Dimitrova

Yana Dimitrova is a Bulgarian artist who moved to United States in 2002. She studied at the secondary School for Fine Arts “Acd. Ilia Petrov” in Sofia, Bulgaria and at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah and Atlanta, GA. Observing cultural and political differences, her large-scale explorations blur the perimeters of space dealing with ideas of immigration and social transformations. Many of her displays took
place in Eastern Europe, UK, Germany and the U.S.

Clare Herron

Clare Herron is a Brooklyn-based artist and designer whose work is largely inspired by patterns and color schemes found in vintage textiles. Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Clare was always fascinated by the massive murals that surrounded her and motivated by the amazing teachers and mentors she was fortunate enough to have.  After graduating from the Integrated Design Curriculum program at Parsons School of Design, Clare began working on both mosaic and painted murals with Groundswell. She hopes to inspire others in the same way that she has been inspired in the past.

Adam Kidder

Adam holds an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts, and a BFA in painting and drawing and is
currently pursuing his Art Education certificate. Adam has worked as a storyboard artist/ animator for Comedy
Central and at advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. His illustrations and comics have appeared in national
magazines and newspapers across the country and have been recognized by the Society of Illustrators and
American Illustration. Adam has worked on murals in NYC, London, Washington D.C., Boston, and California.

Tess Korobkin

Tess Korobkin is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator.  She has led mural projects in New York City with the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Children's Aid Society Next Generation Teen Center, Community Word Project, and the Bronx Defenders. Tess is the deputy director of Artistic Noise NY, a youth arts organization that works with young people affected by the juvenile justice system. With Artistic Noise, Tess facilitates an Art and Entrepreneurship Program in Bronx and works with young people returning to New York City from state facilities. A passionate painter, Tess is deepening her commitment to the civic role of the arts as a public artist. Tess received her BA in Studio Art and American Studies from Yale.  She has studied mural arts in Mexico, art's role in democracy in Peru, and Public Art in New York City in the early 1980s.

Amy Mahnick

Amy Mahnick received a BFA in Sculpture from Michigan State University and an MFA in Painting from the New York Academy of Art.  She has painted murals for over 10 years working on a diverse and exciting range of projects, from the re-creation of WPA murals to the domed ceiling of the Venetian Casino Resort Hotel in Las Vegas, and now the neighborhoods of New York.  She is committed to tradition, innovation, and using art as a means of exploration, expression and growth. Her Still-Life paintings and sculpture made out of reclaimed plastic and other household items have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale. amymahnick.net


Conor McGrady

Conor McGrady studied at Cumbria College of Art and Design in Carlisle, UK and at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, UK, before receiving his MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998. His work has been exhibited internationally and in 2002 he was selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Frank Parga

Frank is an artist and illustrator currently living in Brooklyn, NY. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, where he studied art at U.T.E.P and received a BFA in Painting with a minor in Sculpture in 1995. In 2002 he received a MFA in Studio Art from New York University. He is the recipient of numerous grants and artists residencies including the Jacob T. and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation’s Visual Harlem Grant Program, a Workspace Grant for New York Emerging Artists through the Center For Book Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Residency at the Woolworth Building, the Weir Farm Trust Artist Residency in Wilton, Connecticut, the Joshua Tree National Park Artists Residency as well as an Artists Community Fellowship sponsored by Earthwatch Institute entitled Archeology of the Pacific Northwest in Washington state. In 2008 Frank was an Artist/Mentor in the Global Youth Media and Arts Program sponsored by World Savvy at La Guardia College, Queens, NY as well as a panelist for the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian institution, Native Arts Program, Washington, D.C. Frank has shown his work in New York City, Connecticut, California, Texas, Missouri, Michigan, Oregon, Arizona, Rotterdam and Mexico.  His work can be seen at www.frankparga.com. www.frankparga.com

Nicole Schulman

Nicole Schulman is an artist on the editorial board of World War 3 Illustrated magazine. She is the co-editor of “Wobblies: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World” book, her comics and illustrations are in the collection of the Library of Congress. Nicole's art has printed internationally in such venues as the NY Times and The Progressive, and been exhibited across the United States and Europe as well as Tel Aviv, Hebron and South Korea. She was born and raised in New York City, and continues to live there.

Chris Soria

Chris Soria is a visual artist, illustrator, and professional creative who works in traditional, digital, and mixed-media.  His interests include time travel, dimensional manipulation, archaic industry, collective delusions, paradox, and the human spirit.  The product of a mother (artist), encouraging early signs of creativity and innovation, and a father (engineer), fostering precision, resourcefulness, and intention, Chris Soria’s artwork exudes architectonic expressionism fueled by a pervading curiosity for the cylical nature of all things.  His concentration in the visual arts began very early in childhood with the encouragement of family, friends, and teachers alike, later attending Parsons School of Design to study Illustration and Art Education.  In addition to creating for art’s sake, Soria also services outside interests and has illustrated for clients such as MTV, BET, Mark Ecko, Zoo York, Code and Theory, Yankee Stadium and many more.  His murals decorate walls throughout New York and as a member of Groundswell Community Project, he works with youth to create murals that increase civic participation and collective expression.  With his back to the void, Chris Soria steps out from life’s puzzle like an escapee of the matrix, pointing his devices at the expelled fragments of a disintegrating reality, juggling an array of projects from apparel design to public art, while fortifying his footing as time and space separate all around him. 


Mauricio Trenard

Mauricio Trenard is an accomplished painter and sculptor. He has 20 years of experience teaching art history and served as Department Chair for the Esteban Salas Conservatory in Santiago de Cuba , where he was born and raised. Trenard's work is in private collections in Europe, Mexico and the United States. www.mauriciotrenard.com


Misha Tyutyunik

Misha Tyutyunik is a Ukranian born contemporary painter, who moved to the United States when he was seven.  A BFA graduate of Pratt Institute, Misha paints, does murals, (independently, as well as through non-profit organizations such as Groundswell) and works as a graphic designer for companies such as A&E Television Networks, ENK, Brooklyn Arts Council, and Coca Cola. 

Influenced by Social Realism, German Expressionism, and Japanese prints, (among others) the artist's work blends graphic, figurative painting with sweeping landscapes and nostalgic environments, that speak to the sensibilities of the human condition.  Utilizing subdued colors, intense brush strokes, and detailed patterns, Misha creates thought provoking reflections of Americana culture that challenge convention and break down 'white picket fence' mentalities.

Since the spring of 2009, Mr. Tyutyunik and a partner have been operating a business called Collective Consciousness NYC, providing creative services, putting on exhibitions and promoting the arts.  Misha has exhibited his artwork throughout New York City, Philadelphia and New Jersey.  He currently lives and paints out of Brooklyn, New York.  mishat.com blubeard.tumblr.com theblack-books.blogspot.com

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Katie Yamasaki

Katie Yamasaki earned her Bachelors of Arts from Earlham College and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Katie teaches 4th-8th grade art at Ballet Tech, The New York City Public School for Dance. Prior to her graduate studies, she also taught Spanish in both the New York and Detroit city schools. Katie's murals can be found in schools, libraries, churches, theatres, and outdoor walls in New York City, Detroit, New Jersey, and Indiana. Her illustrated books for children range in theme from imaginative, whimiscal tales, to weighty historical fiction and biography. She is deeply devoted to the use of public art and education as a vehicle for communication and social change.

Interns, Assistants, Volunteers

Groundswell relies on the hard work and dedication of the many assistants, interns and volunteers who help us with everything from database management to documentation of projects to supervising youth. We also work closely with Pratt's internship program.

Honorary Advisory Board

Susan Cervantes, Executive Director - Precita Eyes Mural Arts, San Francisco CA

Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director - Fifth Avenue Committee, Brooklyn NY

Marilyn Gelber, Executive Director - Independence Community Foundation

Dona Kahn, Esq - Anderson Kill & Olick, P.C., NYC

Brad Lander - Brooklyn City Councilmember

Jon Pounds, Executive Director - Chicago Public Art Group, Chicago IL

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

Jaque Reid - former CNN, BET Nightly News anchor, and current co-host of Steve Harvey's WBLS Morning Show

Faith Ringgold - Artist, Activist, Feminist

Dr. Guadalupe Rivera Marin - daughter of seminal Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera & President of the Diego Rivera Foundation

Prof. Alisa Solomon, Director Arts & Culture - Graduate School of Journalism , Columbia University NYC

Dr. Elizabeth A. Sackler - President, Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation & benefactor of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center at the Brooklyn Museum

Professor John Torreano - Masters in Fine Arts Program, New York University , NYC

Gary Younge - NY correspondent for the Guardian, contributor to The Nation & author of No Place Like Home: A Black Briton's Journey Through the Deep South .