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STEM programs for kids & teens

XR digital makerspace

Web app for teaching STEM

Our Team

We’re made up of educators, techies, coders, artists, musicians…you name it! If you’re interested in a career or seasonal position at Empow Studios, please inquire on our Jobs page here.

Leonid Tunik at Empow Studios

Leonid Tunik

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.

David Gutierrez

VP of Operations

a.k.a. “Digital Dave”

Dave realized his passion in working with youth after teaching percussion to individual students and group ensembles at various music outlets while he completed his Bachelors degree in Music Business at UMass-Lowell. Inspired by many artists, podcasters, and friends who live “off-the-beaten-path”, Dave is constantly trying to figure out how to make his career align with his hobbies & interests; it’s not easy! After working at various companies like the Avedis Zildjian Company and Nuance Communications, and performing with the Concord and New England Philharmonic Orchestras, Dave has finally found home at Empow Studios – where everyday he’s working to solve problems, better the community, and engage with the coworkers he calls friends. In his spare time, you can find Dave hanging out with his daughter, hiking with his dog, desperately trying to support Everton FC, and pretending to be a mixed martial artist.

David Gutierrez, Executive Director from Empow Studios
Jason Carpenter, Content Marketing Specialist & Senior Instructor at Empow Studios

Jason Carpenter

Marketing Manager

A.K.A. “J”

Having spent a lifetime split between Los Angeles, California, and Massachusetts, Jason has ultimately merged his professional background and passion for education and content creation here at Empow Studios. After over twenty years of teaching a diversity of subject matter and student demographics–and a master’s degree in film in his back pocket–he relishes the opportunity to write and produce materials for Empow’s websites, marketing campaigns, and curriculum.

Jason regularly engages in writing about film/art, reading, hanging with cats, consuming potato chips, and driving to the hoop on folks much younger than him (as seen in the accompanying action photo).

Karen Lewis

Director of HR & Administration

Originally from the UK, Karen and her family moved to Boston in 2012. Having taken a year to travel around the world with her husband and two daughters, they decided America was the ideal location to settle. Karen retrained as a teacher after homeschooling her girls throughout their travels and, with prior experience in finance, education, office management and administration, loves that Empow Studios combines her favorite things – seeing children expand their knowledge in a fun environment whilst being able to organize those around her! In her free time Karen is never happier than being close to the ocean or walking her rescue dog, Pepper. If she can combine both then happy days!

Karen Lewis, Office Manager from Empow Studios
Theo Swartz, IT & Support Manager from Empow Studios

Theo Swartz

IT & Support Manager, Curriculum Team Lead

A.K.A. “Techno Theo”

Consistently seeking out creative projects involving technology, Theo has been employed as a software developer, a QA tester, and a part-time music composer. Now he utilizes his technical ability and passion for helping others as the IT & Support Manager at Empow, where he assists the teaching team, performs QA testing on Empow’s software and equipment, and tracks app, web, & curriculum development. Outside of work, Theo enjoys spending time in the outdoors, playing the game of Go, producing electronic music, and publishing self-made video games.

Victor Kushch

Director of IT & Software Development

A.K.A. “Dev”

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.

Victor Kushch at Empow Studios
Danny Plouffe, Senior Instructor from Empow Studios

Danny Plouffe

Digital Media & Advertising Specialist

A.K.A. “Danny Boy”

Danny graduated from Huntington University and Ball State University with degrees in Digital Media-Animation. After his seven year stay in the midwest to pursue his education, he has returned to his home state of Massachusetts to pursue his career in education and animation. Danny is a Digital Media & Advertising Specialist at Empow Studios, where he continues to hone his skills in Animation and Digital Media Production. In his free time, Danny enjoys playing games with friends, cooking, and sports.

Ed Kunakemakorn

Empow Labs Team Lead, Senior Instructor

a.k.a. “Eddy Spaghetti”

Ed is an electrical engineer with training in music technology and media production. Ed 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, Ed does freelance work in sound engineering and teaches in the computer science and math departments 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.

Ed at Empow Studios

Jacqueline Medrano

Administrative Assistant

Originally from South Africa, Jacqueline has lived in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Arizona. Having lived the last 6 years in Arizona, Jacqueline and her family decided to move to Boston MA and settle. Jacqueline has worked in Social Services for the last 6 years and with prior experience in Behavioral Health Tech, Administration, Customer Service, and Management, Jacqueline is excited to bring her skills set and apply it to Empow Studios’ Programs. Jacqueline loves that Empow Studios works with children in expanding their knowledge in a fun, loving environment. In her free time Jacqueline is never happier than being with her family and making new memories.

Mandy Stickles

PR & Communications Coordinator

Originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, Mandy went to school in Pennsylvania and studied Communications. As an editor for her school newspaper, she edited and created video production and was a host for one of their radio shows. She also interned at a Radio Station where she worked as a Promotional Intern and helped with running and prepping for their events. After college, Mandy became a Copywriter and Marketing Assistant and was able to pursue her love for writing. A year ago she moved to Boston and searched for a new career path where she could learn, grow, and incorporate her skill sets. She has now joined the Empow Studios team and is very excited for the work she will be doing and working with a great team!

Michelle Meyer at Empow Studios

Michelle Meyer

Lexington Studio Team Lead, Senior Instructor

a.k.a. “Qraft Queen”

Michelle is a high-energy educator who is enthusiastic about children, STEM, and making a difference in our community. She holds a strong rapport with her students, families, and fellow teammates through her knowledge, integrity, and enthusiasm! When she’s not directing our camps, managing programs at our Newton Studio, and encouraging the next generation of developers to be fearless creators, you can find Michelle in her home studio crafting, coding, and creating her own projects.

Nancy L

Director of Program Operations

Nancy grew up in Massachusetts and received a BA in Psychology. She worked at several education-based consumer product companies as VP of Sales. In her free time, Nancy volunteers and supports various foundations in the Boston area. Nancy is excited to bring her skills of building successful businesses and her passion for recharging the educational experience of primary school students in her role as Director of Program Operations for Empow Studios.

Nancy L, Director of Operations, Empow studios

Olga Shaw

Scheduling Coordinator

A true renaissance woman, Olga has led an enviable life. Born and raised in the Netherlands, Olga found herself attending high school in Florida for a year before embarking on adventures and taking up residence in Australia (where she worked as a farmhand), New Zealand, Malaysia, and Thailand. After settling in the United Kingdom, Olga met her husband, adopted two children (now teenagers!), and moved to Massachusetts, where she has contributed mightily to the behind-the-scenes workings at Empow Studios. Her four years of experience as a supply planner for various companies around the world has resulted in stability, efficiency, and cohesiveness in Empow’s scheduling and administrative departments.

Olga—an unwavering animal advocate, especially concerning rats and her volunteer work at Mainely Rat Rescue—also possesses an associate degree in business, a cosmetology license, and membership in the Society of Creative Anachronisms, where she engages in pre-1600s cosplay. And yes, she’s as cool as she sounds.

Teddy Murphy

Outreach Team Lead, Senior Instructor

A.K.A. “Master of None”

Teddy is a Board-Certified Music Therapist who specializes in working with children with special needs and disabilities. He enjoys facilitating recording projects with his clients on a variety of digital audio workstations and empowering children to develop meaningful musical experiences. In addition, Teddy has become a jack-of-all-trades at Empow, teaching nearly every course in the Empow STEM curriculum. When not teaching at Empow, Teddy enjoys playing with his band, boxing, and being outdoors.

Teddy Murphy at Empow Studios
Bryant Jenkins, Senior Instructor from Empow Studios

Bryant Jenkins

Senior Instructor

Bryant is an electro-acoustic composer based in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied computer science at Georgia Tech before moving to Boston to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Production and Design at the Berklee College of Music. Prior to attending Berklee, he was autodidactic in the realm of electronic music and audio production, developing these skills alongside an interest in the guitar while also dabbling in the piano. These three instruments, the guitar, the piano, and the computer, each represent a different approach to making music, and the influences of these three paradigms are individually apparent in his music. The music itself is focused primarily on strong, shifting grooves presented in parallel with, or in contrast to, atmospheric textures of a synthetic, yet organic nature. His music endeavors to capture and convey the movement of energy through various levels over time, from the tentative to the unrestrained.

Christian Helgeson

Senior Instructor

A.K.A. “Crispy”

Fascinated by Computers as a child, Christian began going to programs run by Leonid in the 3rd grade. Gravitating towards Music and Animation at first and then towards Robotics and Programming, he has always been passionate about S.T.E.A.M. programs. After 7 Years working at Empow, his interests have only grown. After Graduating from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, he took a year off to live in Germany. He is currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Middlesex Community College.

Christian Helgeson, Senior Instructor from Empow Studios
Daniel Strauss at Empow Studios

Daniel Strauss

Senior Instructor

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.

Eir Limor

Assistant Director, Lexington Studio

a.k.a. “Lord of the Printers”

Eir is a multimedia specialist with a background in animation, design, and writing. When he’s not at Empow, Eir likes anything that combines chocolate with peanut-butter, long walks on the beach, and getting caught in the rain. He is currently working on way too many projects, but manages to make progress on all of them, including; writing a book, storyboarding a movie, creating video games, and challenging himself every day.

Eir Limor, Assistant Director of Lexington Studio, Empow Studios

Jason Gurtman

Senior Instructor

a.k.a. “The Other J”

Jason is an educator who strives to bring out the best in others through dynamic personalized instruction. While in school Jason led outdoor programs and leadership workshops with Cornell Outdoor Education, and spent much of his time volunteering with local organizations focused on STEM education. After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, Jason moved to Boston to work as a process engineer in industry before joining the team at Empow. When teaching, he enjoys sharing his passion for STEAM with his students and loves to see that spark of excitement when they discover something new. In his free time Jason enjoys rock climbing, playing piano, comedy writing, and petting dogs.

Garrett Post

Senior Instructor

a.k.a. “G-money The Bunny”

Originally from Newton MA, Garrett is thrilled to return home to the Boston area after graduating with a degree in Computer Science from Duke University. Garrett has taught English to ESL adults in Tucson, AZ, and outdoor leadership skills to college students in the forests of western North Carolina. He’s extremely excited to combine his interests in technology and teaching here at Empow. When he’s not in studio, Garrett likes to play sports, video games, and dance the day (or night) away.

Garrett Post, Senior Instructor, Empow Studios

Laura Sawin

Senior Instructor

Laura enjoys creating things in any way she can. She loves making digital and traditional art, playing trombone, knitting, and drinking tea. A graduate of WPI, she majored in Interactive Media and Game Development and minored in Music and Computer Science. Having changed majors in college multiple times, many subjects interest Laura. She loves seeing how seemingly unrelated disciplines like 3D modeling and medicine can connect. Teaching has always been important to Laura, as she tutored throughout high school and coached Special Olympics gymnastics for several years. She loves working with students to help them find their interests and enabling them to excel.

Lenny Young

Senior Instructor

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.

Lenny Young at Empow Studios

Martin McDonald

Senior Instructor

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.

Pallavi Naravane

FLL Lead Coach, Senior Instructor

A.K.A. “Cuber”

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.

Pallavi Naravane at Empow Studios
Matthew Silverstein, Operations Consultant from Empow Studios

Matt Silverstein

Operations Consultant

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. 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.

You?

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.

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