Staff

John Budzyna

Executive Director

John is excited to be the new Executive Director taking over from founder Leslie Costello who has earned a much deserved retirement for her 20 years of service to EAC and the greater Lawrence community.  John comes to EAC from the Arlington Center for the Arts where he was Executive Director for 8 years.  Prior to Arlington he was the Executive Director of the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport.  John received his undergraduate degree from Albany State University in Theatre and Business and his Masters in Management from Lesley University.   John is looking forward to working with such a diverse and creative community! john@essexartcenter.org

Sara Hidalgo

Sidell Gallery Director & Registrar

Sara was trained as an art restorer in Mexico her native country. Since moving to the US she has worked on different restoration projects for private collectors and public places in the Merrimack Valley. Her expertise includes conservation and restoration of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and murals among others.  Sara joined the Essex Art Center as a student in 2004 and became part of the staff and faculty in 2007. Presently she collaborates on class registration and gallery shows.

Maria Sanchez Kouassi

Education Director

Maria began her involvement with EAC in 1996 when she participated in Art on the Island, an outdoor crafts fair organized by EAC. At the time she was an active artist selling her pottery at festivals. Through EAC she had the opportunity to teach art to Kindergarten through 8th grade at the Lawrence Family Development Charter School. At the same time she was asked to join the faculty at EAC and began teaching clay classes to children and adults at EAC. For many years she was the ceramic technician and oversaw the EAC drop-in program for teens. Since her original involvement, her role has transformed at EAC. She is currently working part time and holds the position of Education Director.

Cathy McLaurin

Beland Gallery Director & Special Projects

Cathy joined EAC staff in 1998, first leading art programming for alternative high school groups, including a 12-year collaboration with students from the Collaborative Alternative School (Greater Lawrence Educational Center).  In 1999, she joined the administrative staff, continuing to focus on youth development/mentoring, as well as teaching, grantwriting, organizing field trips and special projects, and directing the Beland Gallery.  In 2013, Cathy completed a Master of Fine Arts in the joint degree program at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University.  In addition to EAC, she has taught at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, New Hampshire Institute of Art, and consults on and leads art programming for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.  Her work has been shown nationally and internationally and is a two time recipient of a Puffin Foundation grant, a Berkshire Taconic ART Award, and a Final Berwick Research Award.

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