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Staff & Board

Current Staff

Lars Hasselblad Torres, Executive Director

Lars is an artist, writer, educator and entrepreneur with a passion for arts-driven economic development. Lars has created and led arts, coworking and makerspaces in Washington, DC and Vermont as well as the state’s Backpacker Guide to creativity. In the fall of 2017, with a grant from the Democracy Fund, Lars traveled 14,000 miles around the country interviewing Americans about the ways our democratic aspirations are represented in the arts.

Prior to joining the Artisan’s Asylum, Lars served as Director of Vermont’s Office of the Creative Economy, Innovation Prize Advisor to the US Agency for International Development, lead designer and head of MIT’s Global Challenge, and director of AmericaSpeaks’ Democracy Lab for innovation and research. Lars was a founding faculty member of the Booker T. Washington Public Charter School for Technical Arts in Washington, DC where he was recognized for excellence in learning design for his combined DC History and Urban Studies curriculum.

In his down time Lars is a collage and mixed media artist, producing work for theater, dance, and large-scale installation. He has been working over the last fifteen years to develop the Global Peace Tiles Project in partnership with communities around the world. An avid reader, walker of woods, and board game enthusiast, Lars serves on the board of AYWA International and is mentor for the Mentor Capital Network.

Anne Wright, Director of Education

Anne is a performer, culinary artist and educator, and arts administrator. She worked for an art non-profit in New York implementing arts programs and curriculum in K-8 schools across the city. After completing her Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, she went on to become a corporate trainer helping staff to enhance their work practice. When not at Artisan’s Asylum, you can find her leading Tipsy Chocolate Tours in Boston or teaching her signature Tipsy Truffle Making classes.

Phone: 617-284-6878 x 113 | Email: teach@

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2 – 4pm and by appointment.Sign up here!

Julia Csekö, Outreach and Administration Coordinator

Julia is a practicing multidisciplinary artist, and an Art Administrator, with experience in non-profits, cultural and learning oriented organizations. At Artisan’s Asylum she manages communications and outreach, working closely with the dynamic makers and creators community while coordinating daily operations. Julia was born in Colorado, and grew up in Brazil, where she started her career as first assistant to Brazilian Sculptor Ernesto Neto, representing the artist in major international museums.  Julia is a people person with a passion for the creative and innovation industry. She is constantly scouting for great ideas, partnerships and collaborations, as well as opportunities to showcase the awe inspiring work of the A2 members.   

Phone: 617-284-6878 x 107 | Email: julia.cseko@artisansasylum.com
Office Hours: Wednesdays from 3 – 6 pm and by appointment. Sign up here!

Chris Duval, Facilities Manager

Determined to find an outlet for both his work experience and passion for creativity, Chris came to Artisan’s Asylum as an Awesomenaut volunteer in January 2019. He later served as Awesomenaut coordinator (a role that he continues to fill), and in July, assumed the role of Facilities Manager. He is a retired tech executive with extensive experience in product development, project management and manufacturing. He is also a trained and experienced multi-instrumentalist, who composes and records original music for documentary films and other multimedia work. Chris views the role of Facilities Manager as one where “the goal is to minimize the time between ideation and creation by maintaining an organized, efficient, well-maintained and safe workspace”. Yes, he actually has said that. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, shredding incandescent, mind-numbing riffs on electric guitar, and spending time with his family.

 

Board of Directors

The Artisan’s Asylum volunteer Board of Directors is responsible for keeping Artisan’s Asylum fiscally and legally sound. The board, comprised of members and community leadership, provides strategic direction, governance and policy oversight, outreach and networking, and fundraising support to the Executive Director, staff and community.

More information on current directors and board activities available On Our Wiki.

Ramesh Advani, Finance Committee (2018 to present)

Ramesh is a senior finance and operations executive with experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors including financial services, high tech medical and materials manufacturing industries. With a successful career at Ciba Corning (currently Novartis) and at Fidelity Investments, he is currently the interim Chief Financial Officer for The Centering Healthcare Institute, an innovative health care nonprofit improving health by transforming care through Centering groups. As former Director, Federal Grants Management in the Patrick Administration, he was responsible for operational and financial oversight of $3+ billion in federal grants received by MA.

Ramesh was MA’s first Indian American Selectman from 2003-2009 and is involved on a pro bono basis with SCORE Boston and Mass Challenge as a mentor and counselor to social impact entrepreneurs and other causes. He holds a Masters in International Business from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.


Mike Dawson, Finance Committee Chair (2018 to present)

Mike’s passion for design, construction and collaboration have been steady influences on the variety of paths that he has followed. Trained at RPI as an architect, Mike moved to the Boston area in 1996 where he worked for HMFH Architects in Cambridge, MA and then Miller Dyer Spears Architects in Boston, MA. In 2001 he volunteered to participate in the construction of a school in Mozambique and then backpacked through much of East Africa. On his return Mike quickly became involved in another exciting cultural collaboration, hired by Liberty Street Restoration to work on the Yin Yu Tang house where he became the Project Superintendent. Yin Yu Tang is 4,500 sf centuries old Huizou merchant’s house re-erected as a permanent installation at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

Owner of Dawson Design Build, Mike has been a member of Artisans Asylum since 2015 after learning about it during the design and construction of the maker space his company did for the Cambridge Friends School. The spirit of collaboration, the amazing things that people make and create at Artisan’s Asylum make it an exciting place to continue to have as a home base. Mike has become a dedicated advocate and volunteer in the community striving to finds ways to share the spirit and vision here with kids and people of all ages and backgrounds.


Steve Derezinski, Real Estate and Finance Committees (2019 to present)

Steve holds an S.B. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Prior to MOxST, Steve was Founder and Director of Georgia Tech’s VentureLab. He was President of the MIT Alumni Club of Atlanta, and has served on MIT’s National Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is active in the Clean Energy community.

Steve is Co-founder of Metal Oxygen Separation Technologies, Inc. and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. A quintessential serial entrepreneur, Steve has formed eight companies from University IP that raised $43M in startup capital including $25M in venture investments form Silicon Valley, Boston and Atlanta Venture Capital firms. Over the years Steve’s ventures have been awarded and managed $23M in government contracts. He has helped launch over 80 startups which have cumulatively raised over $250M to date.


Jacob Larocca, Member Liaison (2018 to present)

Jacob is an Electrical Engineer with a penchant for Sci-Fi, Props, and Costumes. He has been making things since he could put together two Lego bricks, and hasn’t stopped since. Jacob works in many mediums, including Duct Tape, 3D printing, and foam. When he’s not making things at work or at A2, he can be found playing his trombone or tap dancing.

Jacob has been a member of Artisans asylum for more than 6 years, and has seen it grow in some incredible ways. He absolutely loves learning from the community here, and is looking forward to serving the membership in his role as Member Liaison!


Rachel O’Neil, Board Chair (2016 to present)

When not climbing rocks (or walls) Rachel can be found at Artisan’s Asylum refurbishing home décor and furniture. She’s inspired to bring out the best in home furnishings, keep quality furniture out of the waste stream, and personalize living spaces. The moment Rachel discovered Artisan’s Asylum, she immediately felt like she belonged, welcomed by a judgment-free zone.



Pamela Rosario, Director (2019 to present)

Pamela is an award-winning business leader in the areas of customer experience strategy, diversity & inclusion within the high tech industry. Her commitment to bridging the gap between the innovation economy and historically marginalized communities led her to launch initiatives such as the CyberWarrior Academy, Massachusetts’ first certified cybersecurity and machine learning apprenticeship for women, veterans, and people of color. This, together with her passion for real estate investing led her to found Rocena Real Estate Strategies, an investment firm that teaches Black and Latinx youth how to build wealth through real estate and offers scholarships to high school students looking to drive change in their communities.

Pamela’s accolades include: El Mundo’s 30 under 30 Most Influential Latino Leaders Award, Hubspot’s L4 Services Award, and Chica Project’s Mentor of the Year Award. Her unconventional upbringing and immigration story are covered in The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children by Harvard economist Ronald Ferguson and award-winning journalist Tatsha Robertson. Today, you can find Pamela having a blast traveling the world in her role as Rapid7’s Program Manager of Customer Experience Strategy.


Molly Rubenstein, Director (2018 to present)

Molly W. Rubenstein joined the leadership team at Artisan’s Asylum in 2011, serving in the course of four years as Director of Operations, Director of Education & Outreach, and Executive Director. She is overjoyed to return to Artisan’s Asylum as now as a Board Director.

Molly is passionate about helping people to break down boundaries between work, learning, and play in order to help them build fulfilling lives.

Since leaving Artisan’s Asylum in 2015, she has been supporting the development of spaces, curriculum, and systems-level change to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in low-income countries around the world. She currently serves as Innovation Ecosystems Manager for MIT D-Lab.


Sapna Tyagi, Director (2019 to present)

Currently Sapna oversees product, engineering, and data functions at Virtudent; a series A funded startup headquartered in Boston. Their primary role oversees the design and manufacturing of our pop-up, mobile dental kit.

Sapna has held leadership positions in the Boston chapter of Women In Product; a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women in product management and advocating for equal representation. She is closely involved with Boston chapter of The Founder Institute; an American business incubator, entrepreneur training, and startup launch program that was founded in Palo Alto, California in 2009.

Sapna will lend their superpowers to help steer Artisan’s Asylum’s strategic direction.


Romaine Waite, Director (2019 to present)

Romaine loves community service and brainstorming solutions. In elementary school Romaine aspired to be an inventor, an engineer. He went on to earn a dual degree in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. During his time in college he developed his understanding of the problems affecting underserved communities as well as the technologies and approaches most effective for addressing them. He has honed his skills in mechatronics, fabrication, programming, rapid prototyping, and product design to help better address these problems. In the years to come Romaine hopes to strengthen communities and push creative thresholds.

Romaine will lend their superpowers to help steer Artisan’s Asylum’s expansion into youth STEAM efforts.


Nicolas Warren (2019 to present)

Nicolas is a business and investment professional, bullish on impact investing and mission-driven social enterprises. Currently, Nicolas is a senior associate at Valencia RC, a commercial real estate finance firm, where he is responsible for analysis and management of transactions between $1-50 million.

Prior to Valencia, in 2016, Nicolas created the real estate investment partnership Warren Nicaragua and established a sustainable timber plantation in Nicaragua. Before his career in real estate and impact investing, Nicolas created the performance nutrition brand, Perfect Fuel Chocolate in 2011. He launched his line of products in 2012, raised $500K in 2014, and sold his business to the private equity company, Home Market Ventures, in 2016.

Prior to Perfect Fuel, Nicolas lead a new business vertical for the Google Ventures-funded mobile software startup, LevelUp. Early on, Nicolas started a software company directly out of college and won admission to the competitive venture-backed accelerator for software companies, DreamIt Ventures.

Nicolas will lend their superpowers to help steer Artisan’s Asylum’s evaluation of commercial real estate options.

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