Meet Our New Board Members

January 1, 1970 - to
Meet Our New Board Members

We are delighted to welcome four dynamic new members to our Board of Directors. Mike Allmendinger, Brian Hayer, Susan Mathison, and Sam Wai bring great enthusiasm and business expertise, and we are grateful for their participation. Read on to see what drew them to the Museum.

SONY DSCMike Allmendinger
General Manager, Kilbourne Group
Principal, Land Elements

“To locate the Museum in downtown Fargo was a visionary move, and it’s had a tremendous impact on our culture in Fargo and Moorhead. I’m especially excited to support the experiences that the Plains Art Museum creates for our region, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to support this vision.”

Mike is the founder of Land Elements, a landscape architecture company with a team of landscape architects who focus on concept design to create a unique sense of place in the outdoor environment. In 2006 he also joined the Kilbourne Group as general manager. Kilbourne Group is a catalyst of inspiration and action for vibrant downtown communities. Mike is an active board member of Fargo’s Downtown Community Partnership and a hockey coach with Fargo Youth Hockey.

brian_hayer_sqBrian Hayer
President and CEO, Warner and Company Insurance

“I have been interested in art since I was a child. I collected artwork over the years and became even more interested when I won an auction item at the Plains Art Museum Spring Gala a few years back for a trip to New York with a guided art tour from the chief curator. It was an awesome experience. I chaired the Gala in 2013, and I’m excited to get more involved.”

After joining Warner and Company Insurance in 1986 as a business marketing trainee, Brian worked his way to leadership positions and was named president and CEO in 2007. In 2012, Brian and his company received prestigious recognition as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Family Owned Business of the Year, and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. He is an active member of several education, arts, and civic groups, and holds current leadership roles with the United Way of Cass Clay, Fargo Kiwanis, and the Downtown Community Partnership, among others.

Susan Mathison sq Susan Mathison, M.D.
Owner/President, Catalyst Medical Center

“I have been interested in art from an early age when I won a contest for drawing a bunny. My mother and aunt are skilled artists and I loved watching them work. I’ve enjoyed supporting local artists and have filled the walls of my office with regional color.”


Dr. Susan Mathison is the founder and medical director of Catalyst Medical Center & Clinical Spa in Fargo. She specializes in Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), head/neck surgery and facial plastic surgery. A passionate advocate for total wellness and a skillful entrepreneur, Susan is a sought-after speaker, a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, a popular blogger, and the author of an upcoming book, Positively Beautiful: Loving the Skin You Are In. She also serves on the board for Dakota Medical Foundation, and has established a family fund through DMF that supports health initiatives with an emphasis on women and children.

Sam Wai sqSam Wai

Treasurer, American Crystal Sugar

“I enjoy art and have collected art for decades. I feel that art reflects who we are, our time and place, and ultimately, the human spirit.”



Sam Wai is the treasurer at American Crystal Sugar Company, the largest beet sugar producer in the United States, which generates nearly 20 percent of the nation’s sugar. He has worked in various financial roles at the company since 1979. Sam is a keen expert on wine who teaches Fargo/Moorhead Communiversity courses that provide meaningful insights on a region’s wine, history, and culture. A classical music devotee, he is also on the Board of Trustees for Minnesota Public Radio and served many years on MPR’s Regional Advisory Council for Fargo/Moorhead.

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Plains Art Museum receives a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant

January 1, 1970 - to
Plains Art Museum receives a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant

We are able to share some wonderful news today: The Bush Foundation announced the award of a $200,000 Community Innovation Grant to Plains Art Museum. Our project, Public Art and Community Engagement, was one of 34 programs to receive grants from the Foundation, which received 618 grant applications from within Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota for this round of funding.

“This is exciting news for our communities,” said Colleen Sheehy, Plains Art Museum Director and CEO. “The Museum has built a strong network of community partners around specific public art projects and also as part of our ongoing work in social engagement that includes city staff and departments, universities and colleges, area businesses, arts organizations, immigrant organizations, and youth programs. We’re excited to work together to build more vibrant cities with strong community engagement by using art and artists to lead the way.”

Funds from the grant will be used to increase the vibrancy of the urban cores of Fargo and Moorhead through demonstration public art projects, exhibitions, a symposium, community meetings, and workshops. The range of activities includes:

  • Three artist-led initiatives that will be demonstration projects in public art, which also have received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Artplace America. The Defiant Gardens program includes a Garden for the Moorhead Power Plant, a Winter Fern Grotto for Fargo, and a Pollinator Garden on museum grounds.
  • Collaborating with the City of Fargo on “The Fargo Project,” a community collaboration to redesign a storm water retention basin, partially funded by an Our Town NEA grant.
  • Supporting socially engaged art and community connections by collaborating on art and community projects in summer 2014 in Living as Form. This will be an artist and community engagement platform that will bring people together to create and experience temporary art and activities that address community needs. A symposium will bring together Midwestern artists to discuss and demonstrate social engagement art practices occurring in the Midwest.
  • Collaborating on and presenting public art workshops for artists, developers, city planning staff, faculty and students.
  • Engaging with city staff, arts leaders, and artists to advance public art plans and involvement of artists in community projects in order to create more vibrant public places that are welcoming and appealing to all.

The Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation Grant program supports organizations working to create or implement an innovative solution to address a community need or opportunity. The innovation must be developed through community problem-solving – inclusive, collaborative processes focused on making the most of community assets – and be more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches.  The program is part of the Bush Foundation’s effort to enable, inspire and reward community innovation.

“Community innovation occurs when people come together to think bigger and think differently about what is possible for their communities,” said Molly Matheson Gruen, the Bush Foundation’s community innovation manager. “Our inaugural Community Innovation Grant recipients are tackling a range of issues impacting quality of life in their communities.  And they are doing it in a way that ensures all voices are heard and that the solutions will endure.”

The Bush Foundation is awarding more than $4 million to 34 organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, through its Community Innovation Grant program. The Foundation received 618 Community Innovation Grant applications requesting more than $76 million.

The full list of Community Innovation Grant recipients can be found on the Bush Foundation website.

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