Pono Asuncion joined McKnight in May 2022 as a program team administrator for grant and program operations, the team responsible for grantmaking and operations structure, administration, and resources to enhance program results. Pono provides administrative and operations support to the Arts & Culture and Neuroscience programs, as well as other grantmaking, including scheduling, meeting logistics, and contracts and expense management.

Prior to McKnight, Pono worked in human resources at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where they coordinated recruiting and the employee experience, and for Women for Political Change, where they directed and expanded the mutual aid fund.

Pono holds a master of science degree in inequalities and social science from the London School of Economics, and two bachelor of science degrees—one in economics and the other in women and international development—from St. Catherine University.

A freelance illustrator and painter, Pono exhibited a piece in the 2022 Northern Lights Juried Art Exhibition at the White Bear Center for the Arts. In addition to drawing and painting, they are pursuing a YouTube education in art history and zoology and moseying through the woods with their partner, Miriam, and dog, Kumu. Born and raised in Minnesota and living in Minneapolis, Pono is reconnecting to their Native Hawaiian, Taíno, and Ilocano ancestors, and is excited to express this relationship through their art.

Favorite saying: Ha’ina ‘ia mai ana ka’puana: Lauele ‘o ia i loko o kā ōpua (And so the story is told: They dream among the clouds).