Founder & CEO
a.k.a. “Cosmic Leonid”
Leonid comes to Empow Studios with a unique background that combines education, technology product development, and entrepreneurship. He has worked with leading educational publishers to develop math tools and tutorials for award-winning high school and college programs, as well testing and monitoring tools for K-12 teachers working with struggling students. In 2006, recognizing the need to engage students into technology and engineering early on in their education, he began teaching after-school classes in animation and video game design to kids in elementary grades. In 2013, seeing an ever increasing demand from parents and kids, he took this project to the LearnLaunch startup accelerator, and set up a permanent location for camps, classes, and the after-school program in the historic center of Lexington, MA, where the programs found a very receptive audience.
Director of Program Operations
a.k.a “Mercury Matt”
Originally from Miami, FL, Matt moved to Boston in 2007 to study Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music and was hired by Empow Studios shortly after graduation. Having taught math, reading, and music, he found himself at home with Empow’s diverse curriculum. As the Director of Program Operations, he is responsible for the successful operation of Empow’s several outreach camps and classes as well as the After School Club and other programs at their Lexington studio. His goal is inspire children to develop their creativity, while learning to understand and appreciate the technology that is available in the world today. When he’s not at Empow, Matthew spends his time rock climbing and working as a freelance music producer/engineer.
Director of Growth & Outreach
a.k.a. “Digital Dave”
A musician with a Bachelors Degree in Music Business, Dave brings marketing and sales experience from his time with the Zildjian cymbal company, and the leader in speech technology with Nuance Communications. Dave realized his passion in working with kids after teaching percussion at various music outlets to individual students and group ensembles. David is responsible for digital marketing, product marketing, branding, public relations, market research, and analytics. In his spare time, Dave enjoys writing music, supporting the Everton Football Club, and hiking the white mountains with his dog.
Customer Service & Administration
a.k.a. “Pokemon Master Trainer”
After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University, Taylor moved here from DC and found she fit in among the band of nerds at Empow. As our Customer Service and Administration Rep, her main responsibilities include sounding pleasant on the phone and making sure all the kids have left before turning out the lights. She’s also in control of all our social media! In her free time, Taylor enjoys crafting, yoga, running marathons, and playing with her ridiculously cute dog.
Weekend Programs Manager
a.k.a. “Jazzy Julissa”
Julissa always had a passion for working with children which led her to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Child Development at Tufts University. During the summers, she’s able to combine her passion for working with kids with her passion for art as an Art Director at Camp Harbor View. What drew Julissa to Empow was that kids are given the tools and freedom to be as creative as they want to be. As a Weekend Program manager, her main responsibilities include running birthday parties at Empow and making sure kids have as much fun as humanly possible. When she’s not at Empow, Julissa is an after school teacher in Newton. During her free time, she likes to draw and listen to music.
Assistant After School Club Director
a.k.a. “Hologram Frost”
Costas is our in-house 3D expert. He started his career as an animator for 3M Lexington. Since then he has worked in almost every facet of the 3D industry, from building and setting up render farms, to teaching 3D to various age groups. Costas Frost has graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2007 in association with Tufts University. When he’s not teaching or working with Empow partners, Costas is a freelance 3D artist working in games and simulation.
Camp Director & Senior Instructor
a.k.a. “Eddy Spaghetti”
Eddy is an electrical engineer with training in music technology and media production. Eddy is excellent at making the complicated sound simple, which comes in especially handy in explaining music theory and programming. When not teaching or writing curriculum with Empow Studios, Eddy does freelance work in sound engineering and teaches video game design and math at Suffolk University. The greatest feelings of achievement for him come from seeing students turn their ideas into a reality, or when they discover in themselves new levels of creativity or technical understanding.
Camp Director & Senior Instructor
a.k.a. “Qraft Queen”
Michelle comes to Empow Studios with a diverse background of teaching, creative arts, performing arts, arts & crafts and administration. She holds a strong rapport with her students, families, and fellow teammates through caring, knowledge and integrity. Being a “Maker” for her whole life, she is thrilled this is an official designation these days! When not at our studio crafting projects like a two-student ender dragon puppet-costume or at local schools helping future developers build video games, you can find Michelle crafting, coding, and creating throughout the New England area.
Camp Director & Senior Instructor
a.k.a. “Laughing Lynne”
Lynne started out at Empow as a camper over ten years ago, where she fell in love with video game design and learning how to use technology creatively. After getting too old to come back to Empow as a camper, she came back as a Teacher’s Assistant and found her passion for teaching and working with children. Now she is studying Math Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey, planning to teach middle school after graduation. When she’s not at work, Lynne loves playing and creating video games, finding new music to enjoy, and relaxing with family.
a.k.a. “Lovely Lisa”
Lisa was born in Seoul, South Korea and was adopted when she was five months old. She grew up in a small town outside of Boston. With a passion for art, she studied architecture her freshman year at the University of Maryland in College Park. While architecture was still a passion, she was a camp counselor for 7 years and realized that teaching was her true calling. She finished her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and graduated with the highest honors from UMD. Go Terps!
She has taught fifth and second grades in Title I schools and she is currently obtaining a Master’s in Instructional Technology at the University of Maryland, University College. During her free time, Lisa enjoys cooking, reading, exercising, and spending time with her husband and dog, Sandy.
Assistant Camp Director
a.k.a. “Beaming Benning”
AJ has been teaching for 5 years now which he says is a small accomplishment, but a great feeling. He is interested in almost everything which is great for meeting people or just hanging out with different groups of friends. He is really into hockey (played at URI) and golf, but also likes video games, reading, and even playing Magic! He loves connecting with people so come meet him at our Lexington camps!
a.k.a. “Magic Martin”
Martin is a professional digital artist with experience working on video games, TV shows and film. He primarily focuses in character animation in both 2D and 3D. He graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a degree in Animation and is a Massachusetts Licensed Teacher in Visual Arts. He finds great joy in learning all he can and teaching others all they want to know to help them better turn their dreams into reality. He has an entire library of random bits of interesting information from a wide variety of different subjects, such as History, Science, Math and Linguistics.
Bernardo has always been interested in learning and teaching all sorts of “useful” skills and ideas, whether it has to do with sports (all except hockey and other slippery sports), arts (fine and not-so-fine), science, culture (pop and not-pop), games, theories of cognitive and behavioral development, gardening, organizations, teaching, learning or technology. He’s a geek of all trades, continually working on mastering them. In the 11 years after graduating from Harvard University with an AB in English, he worked at two New Jersey/New York area independent schools, taught English, history, drama and science, and coached wrestling and lacrosse. During that time, the World Wide Web was born, rapidly grew, and started to spread its tendrils everywhere. As any proper geek would, Bernardo found himself managing a school computer network, teaching computer classes, and being amazed by a new tool called Google. In 2000, Bernardo moved to Maine and over the next 15 years, he earned an Ed.M in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, worked in the nonprofit sector as an IT professional, evaluator, and organizational developer, played a lot of squash and video games, and became the father of two daughters. When his wife Ann joined UMass Lowell faculty in 2015, Bernardo and his family moved to Massachusetts, where they are making home in Lowell, and he is geeking out at Empow Studios.
a.k.a. “Keyframe Kevin”
Kevin has spent over a decade working with aerospace testing technologies and even longer developing his talent as an artist in the field of animation. He recently joined Empow Studios in order to share with others his passion for technology and art. After completing his studies at the New York Film Academy he joined the armed services as a special forces recruit and finished his military career honorably as an infantry airborne paratrooper. He’s currently studying illustration and animation at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and last summer was an animation intern for the Boston non-profit, Next Mile Project. Recently, Kevin was interviewed on gique.me for his latest work, “The Scarab Experiment”, which is a community project that combines art with decentralized blockchain technology. This coming year, he’ll be a featured guest Polly Thayer Starr artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where the community can come participate and learn about his creative art processes. Kevin’s skilled with an array of technologies and mediums including 2D animation, game/graphic design, materials testing, painting, illustration and programming.
A.K.A. “Dan the Man”
Dan is an artist who graduated from RIT with a degree in 3D Digital Design. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he enjoys traveling, though his favorite pastimes are games of all kinds. From board games to video games, he plays them all! Dan has a love of teaching and has taught a variety of subjects. After graduating from RIT, he moved to South Korea to teach English. After returning, Dan found a new home at Empow Studios. Here, Dan runs the weekend Minecraft and Game Design clubs, as well as teaching various technology classes across Massachusetts.
Pallavi is an electrical engineer, crafter and cuber. As an engineer she programmed microcontrollers and designed multi-layer boards for audio-video applications like 3D camera and NVH for automotives. She is an avid crafter, having organized a Summer Craft Camp at a local art gallery. Pallavi has conducted cubing classes, where she teaches kids to solve shape-shifting puzzles broadly known as Rubik’s cubes. She hopes to help kids discover their superpowers by going from learn-to-code to code-to-learn.
A.K.A. “The Kernel”
A.K.A. “Techno Theo”
Theo is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelors of Science in Game Design and Development. He has a history of mobile & web programming, software testing, technology education, and music production. He is passionate about video game design, communication, computer technologies, art, electronic music, and the outdoors. When he is not teaching or developing curriculum at Empow Studios, Theo can be found playing piano, baking, biking, rock climbing, tinkering in Game Maker, designing levels for puzzle games, or attempting (occasionally successfully) to play games at a competitive level.
A.K.A. “Lightyear Lenny”
Lenny has always had a strong interest in science and technology, starting from when he was very young. In school, he graduated from a Drafting and Design program, where he studied mechanical engineering, industrial design, 3D printing and architecture. With his curiosity and interest in science, he also learned about things like astronomy and physics. After school, he worked with technology at a local retail store, which pushed his passion for it even further. Finally, he arrived at Empow, where he continues to use this passion for science and technology in a different setting. Outside of Empow, Lenny enjoys hobbies such as amateur astronomy and building computers.
A.K.A. “Meeple Michael”
A Lexington, Massachusetts native, Michael Epstein joined the Empow team in 2016 as an outreach instructor. His interests are in board games, storytelling through multimedia (especially games), art and design, and English literature. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, and is also the owner of Copper Frog Games LLC, an independent board game design company.
IT Systems & Web Development
Victor has been in the IT industry for over a decade, solving problems in eCommerce, SAAS, blogging, SEO, and networking. In 2016 he joined Empow Studios for a full website redesign, and is continuing to work on more exciting projects that are helping our team deliver high-quality, effective programs. Victor runs an IT support service, Clever IT Systems.
Marketing Content Writer
a.k.a. “Camera Kristin”
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, Kristin spent 8 years producing television news, followed by 5 years of television documentary work – serving as writer and producer for a variety of shows, including two educational shows about wildlife and kids’ health. In recent years, she has written for Boston-based health publications and MetroWest Boston newspapers on topics ranging from kids’ inventions to genetics and environmental pollution. Kristin is Empow’s go-to blogger, and mother of two young girls who are extremely active in STEAM events such as their school’s FIRST LEGO League Robotics Club, Math Olympics, and a variety of other arts and engineering endeavors.
Might you be our next “Empowerment Specialist?”
We’re always looking for teachers passionate about the power of technology in the hands of young creative minds. If you would like to teach part-time, or even occasional classes, please visit our Jobs page and apply. We’d love to hear from you.