"NAF is a great resource for us. We are fortunate that Blandin is supporting this, so I take advantage of it whenever I can."

Katie Marshall, Executive Director, MacRostie Art Center

The MacRostie Art Center, located in downtown Grand Rapids, serves as a regional art center for northern Minnesota. Begun in 1966 as an informal group for artists, it has evolved to the community art center it is today that supports and advances the work of professional artists while building a community that recognizes, appreciates and celebrates art. As a hub of regional art activity in northern Minnesota, MacRostie has 2 galleries, 4 studios and a shop that sells the art of local artists. The galleries each change shows once a month, resulting in 24 exhibitions per year at the center.

Over the past eight years, Nonprofits Assistance Fund, with support from Blandin Foundation, has delivered the Healthy Nonprofits, Healthy Communities Program for Itasca County nonprofits. This program provides capacity building services that are flexible and designed to adapt to the times. The goal of the program is to initiate and support changes at nonprofits in Itasca County that will result in stable, responsive, and well-led organizations that deliver effective services and add to the vitality of the community.

“NAF is a great resource for us,” Katie Marshall, MacRostie’s executive director said. ”I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with NAF in a lot of different ways over the years. We are fortunate that Blandin is supporting this resource, so I take advantage of it whenever I can.

“With the Healthy Nonprofits, Healthy Communities learning series presentations, I don’t think I have missed a single one,” Katie said with a laugh.  “There are lots of great ideas – sometimes more than I can take in. But then there is the opportunity to engage consultants to implement some of those ideas into practice at our organization. We have done strategic planning to help the board adopt more of a governance role and strategy around the development function. I also appreciate that I can pick up the phone any time for technical assistance, most recently around a policy for the allocation of indirect costs.”

Curt Klotz, finance director at NAF who worked with Katie on that policy, said, “It is always so encouraging to work with nonprofit leaders like Katie who are so enthusiastic about identifying ways to continuously grow and improve their organizations. It is an honor to be able to help nonprofits do the amazing work they do every day in their communities.”

Katie is part of the Grand Rapids executive director cohort this year. “This has been a terrific chance to be with other people dealing with the same challenges and sharing ideas,” she said. “Being an executive director can make you feel isolated, and it is hard to find the time to connect with your peers. This group has been really helpful – almost a support group.”

“Katie is one of those perfect participants,” Glyn Northington, special initiatives director at NAF. “She is always looking for ways to apply the topic to MacRostie while also providing insights and questions that help other participants fully explore the concepts for their organizations.”

Because smaller nonprofits often find their days filled with the execution of tactics and tasks, Katie appreciates the opportunity NAF provides to take a step back and look at the bigger governance and strategy questions. “Recently again I have been very aware of the many hats I wear as an executive director – development, HR, IT, landlord,” she said. “I look forward to the fall learning sessions, particularly the one on financial leadership, as a chance to touch base on that topic with NAF.”

Katie encourages other nonprofits in Grand Rapids/Itasca County to take advantage of this opportunity. “We are very lucky that Blandin has nurtured this partnership with NAF to help strengthen the nonprofit community here. It is very valuable for us as we provide services to support and strengthen this community.”

For more information about MacRostie Art Center, click here.

Photo credit: Nathan Bray