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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

Executive Director of Marketing

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.

David Gutierrez from Empow Studios
Matthew Silverstein at Empow Studios

Matt Silverstein

Director of 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.

Will Neville

Outreach Program Director

Originally from Boxborough, Massachusetts, Will has finally come back to his home state after a decade of wandering the country. After moving to Chicago in 2008, he began his career in the box office of a comedy theater before moving to New York, NY and Chapel Hill, NC where he managed numerous event spaces, performance venues, and theaters. During this time he would often find himself returning to New England to work at a summer camp in New Hampshire where he rose to the role of Program Director. Through all of these experiences he realized that home was where he needed to be and returned to Massachusetts and joined Empow Studios as the Outreach Program Director. He couldn’t be more excited to be here.

Victor Kushch at Empow Studios

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.

Michelle Meyer

Director, Newton Studio

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.

Michelle Meyer at Empow Studios
Aurelia Godard at Empow Studios

Aurelia Godard

Director, Lexington Studio

a.k.a. “Ell”

After graduating with a Bachelors in Graphic Design and Digital Media from Champlain College in Vermont, Aurelia has dabbled in freelance graphic design and large event management. After moving to Boston, she decided to focus on early childhood education and became a certified infant, toddler, and preschool daycare teacher. She is excited to combine these areas into one amazing role! Her favorite things are learning new things, dinosaurs, outer space, and writing things so they look fancy.

Lisa Fox

Camp Director

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.

Lisa Fox at Empow Studios
Theo Swartz at Empow Studios

Theo Swartz

IT & Support Manager

A.K.A. “Techno Theo”

Theo is a technology enthusiast who is passionate about the creative applications of computers.  His journey through the world of creative technology started early (pre-university), when he working on pixel art, texture packs, QA testing, and level design for indie games. Since receiving his Bachelors degree in Game Design & Development at RIT, Theo has been employed as a software developer, a QA tester, and a part-time music composer for games released on Steam. Now he flexes his creative and troubleshooting muscles as an IT & Support Manager at Empow, where he helps the teaching team and does some teaching himself. Outside of work, Theo enjoys playing the piano, biking, rock climbing, and pursuing his creative goals: releasing self-made games and music.

Bernardo Feliciano

Learning and Curriculum Development Lead

a.k.a. “Brick” or “Le Brique”

Bernardo has been interested in learning and teaching for a long time. He’s a geek of all trades, so he jumped at the chance to work at Empow Studios. It’s been a chance for him to put to work and play over 25 years (has it been that long?) of experience in classrooms and with various nonprofits. When he’s not playing with kids and robots (his favorite technology), you can find him helping to develop curricula and teaching practices, as well as assessing and learning from other out-of-school programs as a Certified Observer for Boston After School and Beyond.

Bernardo has gotten a lot of mileage out of his AB English and Ed.M in School Leadership from Harvard but has learned even more from his students, friends and family, in gardens and choirs, on the squash court, and at the poker table.

Bernardo Feliciano at Empow Studios

Karen Lewis

Office Manager

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!

Pallavi Naravane

Senior Instructor, Camp Director, & FLL Lead Coach

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

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.

Ed Kunakemakorn

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 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
Martin McDonald 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.

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.

Daniel Strauss at Empow Studios
Teddy Murphy at Empow Studios

Teddy Murphy

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.

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

Danny Plouffe

Senior Instructor

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 Senior Outreach instructor at Empow studios, where he enjoys enjoys his passion for education, as well as the Media Producer, 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.

Paul Girardo

Senior Instructor

A.K.A. “Virtual Paul”

Paul is a software engineer and maker with a Computer Science degree from NJIT. He has worked in a variety of research and commercial companies developing augmented reality applications, immersive mixed reality, vehicle simulations, 3D visualizations using the Unity game engine as well as human computer interaction and technical training. He enjoys working on and teaching all types of science and technology, especially combining technologies with a team to create useful and cool new stuff. Teaching experience includes being the Program Chair for Digital Entertainment and Game Design degree at the college level.

It is great to see the spark kids have for learning new things and helping them create amazing projects. He can be seen taking apart old electronics and explaining the component functions to the students in the Robotics room, experimenting with arduinos, DIY synths and is an avid fan of circuit bending old electronics and toys, hiking in Acadia and creating electronic music.

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.

Kristin DeJohn

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.

Kristin DeJohn at Empow Studios

Jo-Ann Derivois

Weekend Coordinator

a.k.a. “Jojo”

Jo-Ann graduated with a Bachelors degree in French/minor human services from Umass Dartmouth in 2010. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends and playing video games.  She is excited about learning here at Empow!

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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