Faculty & Staff

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Andrew Brehm, Faculty

Andrew is a sculptor who works with a wide range of materials and processes.  He earned his BFA from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in Crafts and holds a Sculpture and Extended Media MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Andrew has appeared on the reality television show Craft Wars on HGTV and is actively exhibiting his work around the country.  For several years Andrew has been involved with Beam’s summer programming at Beam Camp, where he has run the woodworking studio and facilitated the construction of large-scale projects.  Andrew has taught at the high school and college level and is excited to be sharing his materials processing knowledge with the students of his classes.

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Cassie Broadus

Beam Camp Director After-school Co-ordinator

Cassie is a 10-year veteran of Beam Camp!

Brian Cohen, Co-Director

Brian spent 18 years as a marketing executive in the music industry. In 2004, he left his role as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Elektra Records to pursue his dream of starting a summer camp. Inspired by his formative camp experiences at Lighthouse Arts and Music Camp in Pine Grove, PA, he started Beam Camp with Danny Kahn.  Beam Camp is a place where kids collaborate, build, and engage with adults who are passionate about their craft, and it has since inspired their founding of the Beam Center and BeamWorks.  Brian now devotes his full energies to the running of all things Beam, including overseeing the Center’s strategic vision with Danny, fostering community partnerships, and directing the BeamWorks Internship Program.


Christhian Diaz, Faculty

Christhian grew up in Latin America and then in Florida where as an undocumented immigrant with his mother they cleaned offices, did housekeeping, and worked in chain restaurants, amidst a dozen other jobs. He then attended art school in NYC at the Cooper Union where he began making performance art and taking photographs. Now a beneficiary of DACA, Christhian's days revolve around cooperative living practices and community organizing. He was a member and co-organizer of Trade School, an alternative education platform that runs on barter and now has chapters in over 50 citites around the world. He currently photographs artwork and has been teaching art to kids with Beam Center since 2013.

Mitchell Dose, Faculty

Mitchell is an artist, fabricator, theater set-designer and musician.  He has been privileged in teaching art/science/technology, welding bike contraptions, building huge cardboard castles and making giant puppets with young people in Minnesota.  He believes in the power of play, creates sculptures for human and animal interaction, loves to explore the hi-tech in the lo-tech, and is a founding member of a film production company based in the Catskills.  He earned a BFA in Sculpture from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and has a slight midwestern accent.

Danny Kahn, Co-Director

Danny was a pioneer in public radio before establishing a career in the record industry in NYC, first at Nonesuch Records and then moving to Elektra Records where he directed artist development, and met Brian.  Since 1995, He has owned his own management firm, Cross Road Productions, where he represents a number of internationally known performers, including Rosanne Cash.  Danny brings an expertise in production, development, and an innate talent-sense to Beam Camp and the Beam Center, both of which he co-founded and continues to run alongside Brian.

Mark Kleback, Faculty

Mark is a creative technologist and musician who has been helping to teach kids about the basics of circuitry and programming through projects like the Electric Carnival and DIY Drum Pads. He works as a freelance artist through his company Kleebtronicsand holds an MPS through NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. 

Past Workshops: Summer Day: Electronics, Electric Dioramas, DIY Drum Pads, BeamWorks BIHS Drum Pads, BeamWorks BIHS Current Translation Electronics.

Heather Kramer, Faculty

Heather is a freelance set-designer and renegade educator.  She spends her days and nights creating strange new worlds and transforming spaces in her living room, in Rockaway and all across New York City.  She's the co-founder of Arts in Parts, a ever-growing and changing arts program for kids in Rockaway. Rearranging furniture is an endlessly fun pastime of hers.

Jessie Levandov, Faculty

Jessie Levandov is a filmmaker, visual artist, jewelry designer and youth arts educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Her practice as an artist and as an educator is rooted in a deep commitment to making living sacred and joyful, and recognizing and celebrating the beauty in discarded things. Jessie earned her BFA in Film Production from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and believes in magic. 

Past Workshops: Found Object Lamps, Fiber Forts, Fiber Menagerie, BeamWorks BIHS Documentarian

Nancy Otero, Professional Development

Nancy is a learning enthusiast and fan of A-ha! moments who dedicates her days to create the conditions for invention in learning environments. She is a mathematician, psychologist, and software engineer. She collaborates with the Transformative Learning Technology Lab at Stanford University and is the founder of Active Emergence, activeemergence.com. She believes that allowing children to experiment, take risks, and play with their own ideas, gives them permission to trust themselves and they begin to see themselves as learners who have good ideas and can transform those ideas into reality. Check out a Rube Goldberg Machine her students in Mexico City made here!

Pilar Perez, Workshop Assistant

Pilar is a welder and she has been working on general construction for the past 5 years. She has a certification is air conditioning and in installing electronic security systems. She is a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she is studying to become an electrical engineer. 

Zena Verda Pesta, Program Curator

Zena Verda Pesta (b.1983) is an artist/designer, life long learner, and facilitator in Brooklyn, NY. She currently collaborates with Beam Center and Beam Camp to bring fresh new perspective to the work of Artist and Designers sharing their practice with kids.  Prior to her graduate studies in design, she worked as a mad scientist of sorts utilizing the material of clay in her studio practice and her position as an instructor at The Pratt Institute.  Due to her experiences and passion for education, creating, and learning, Zena focuses on physically making together to enrich and create value around community and process.  She firmly believes in listening to youth and nurturing intergenerational environments and will continue to seek out opportunities which allow her to utilize flexibility, intuition, and collaboration.  Her heros include but are not limited to; Jacque Tati, Barbarella, Charles J.B. Snyder, Mr Rogers, and her Mam-maw Verda. 

Matt Robinson, Program Director

Allen Riley, Head Teacher and Faculty

Allen has taught kids to collaborate and realize ideas through the process of making movies for eight years. At Beam Center, he also helps artists and other professionals communicate their practices to kids. He co-wrote a new song for birthdays and holds an MFA in Electronic Integrated Art from the New York State College of Ceramics. 

Past Workshops: Laptop Teardown, Video Mapping, Cinema Action, Clothes From Scratch, Analog Sci-Fi Movie, Little Drawings Big Comics, Bestiary Book, On Location.


Brett Van Aalsburg, Faculty

Brett is an artist, designer, and builder and has been fabricating and installing art, furniture, and scenic elements for 10 years in venues ranging from the Guggenheim to California’s redwood forests.  He has built and installed work in three countries for clients of all types, including Hypersonic Design and Engineering, Creative Engineering, David Byrne, and Swarovski.  He operates from a small shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where he fabricates objects using metal, wood, and plastics.  His work with children aims to illuminate the built environment and its malleability, giving them the confidence to create a world of their own imagining.

Past Workshops: Skyhook Fisherman, Mechanical Rope Rider, Summer Day: Wood and Metal, Pneumatic Propulsion, The Ultimate Paper Airplane

Kathryn Wallem, Program Director

Kathryn has been involved with Beam Camp since 2008 -- she's been a counselor, a cook, and the assistant director -- and with Beam Center since its inception in 2012.  Kathryn’s diverse background and skill set make her essential to Beam: she ran a community restaurant out of her home in Providence, RI; delivered fresh baked bread th roughout NYC; and continues to perform with Piehole, an experimental theatre group. You can email her about anything Inventgenuity at kathryn@beamcenter.org

KOKO Open Source

KOKO Open Source, Open Source Gallery’s children’s program, provides learner-centered workshops for children that examine the intersection between technology, art, and the environment. KOKO nurtures and fuels children’s creativity and curiosity, encouraging visual thinking as a means of self-expression. Our goal is to create a greater understanding of art and technology--in KOKO, children not only learn the skills to make their imaginations come to life, but also problem-solving skills that will benefit them in school and for the rest of their lives.

More information is available at http://open-source-gallery.org/koko/.

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