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Our 2024 Judges

We had a fabulous group of STEAMFest volunteers who helped us create and judge all of our 2024 STEAMFest challenges. We couldn't have done this amazing event without all of them! 

MOLLY
EISERT

Film Challenge

Molly Eisert is very excited to be judging for the second time this year. She is the former president of the Maplewood Strollers theater group. Molly had been nominated for a Perry award for her work in stage management. She lives in Millburn and owns an appraisal firm. In her free time, she volunteers with Many Paws animal rescue, NJCAR, and lives with her tolerant partner and two fur children, Tava and Poirot.

MOLLY
KOHL

Film Challenge

Molly Kohl is currently the Director of the Theater Program at Winston Prep in Whippany. She is a founding member on the board of Drama of Works, a Brooklyn-based puppetry company that creates original works and re-imagines classics. She is also a founding member of In Strange Company in Albuquerque. Previously she was the Artistic Director of Equilibrium Theater Company (VSA North Fourth Arts Center in Albuquerque), a theater company for artists with disabilities, which focuses on advocacy. She also worked behind the scenes for many years at The Public Theater/NYSF and as assistant to the producer of Joe’s Pub. She has performed with various companies in black box theaters around NYC. Recently, Molly worked with NYC-based Outside Voices, a theater company dedicated to disability justice. She studied theater at Eugene Lang College at The New School. Molly lives with her theater-lovin’ family in Millburn, NJ.

ZEV
MARINOFF

Film Challenge

Zev Marinoff is an award-winning filmmaker whose works have been selected as exemplary by NYU Tisch, The YoungArts Foundation and The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. He is currently in post-production on "Who Are You to Judge," a short film featuring Moonrise Kingdom's Jared Gilman slated for film festival distribution later this year. He is a sophomore at Tisch.

Marian
raab

Film Challenge

Marian Raab is the chief executive officer of Ridge Street Productions, a Maplewood, NJ-based company focused on creating movies and documentaries about the American Mafia. A former investigative journalist and nonpracticing attorney, Marian’s passion and expertise drive Ridge Street’s mission to produce films and documentaries that delve into the rich, complex history of organized crime in the United States. Ridge Street Productions’ latest achievement—“American Godfathers: The Five Families”—will be released this summer on the History Channel. Narrated and executive produced by Michael Imperioli, this 6-hour documentary will provide viewers unprecedented access into the history of the most notorious criminal organizations in the nation. Marian resides in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and two sons. Her oldest son is a film studies and production major at Hofstra University and her youngest is a junior at Columbia High School.

Cari
Strassberg

Film Challenge

Cari Strassberg is a network television producer who has won nine News & Documentary Emmy Awards, as well as multiple Cine Golden Eagle International Journalism Awards, Edward R. Murrow Awards, Gracie Awards, and three Peabody Awards. In her position as the Entertainment Producer for ABC’s Good Morning America, Cari worked with legendary movie critic Joel Siegel, covering the film industry. In this capacity, she viewed over 200 films every year, occasionally as many as four a day. She has interviewed every global celebrity under the sun and attended 15 years’ worth of Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and Academy Awards. Cari has lived in Millburn since 2004 with her three sons: Matt, Alex, and Zach, all proud graduates of Millburn High School.

DAVID
LAZARUS

Virtual Chess Tournament

After a successful career as programmer and software developer, David began his seventh decade in September of 2016, teaching and coaching at Deerfield Elementary and South Mountain. David continues to teach and coach at South Mountain and taught classes and coached at Deerfield through 2020. In 2017 David introduced chess at the newly opened Washington School in Millburn and in 2019, his team won the league title. David has also coached at schools in Summit and New Providence. In addition to his teaching and coaching duties, David has worked at the Westfield YMCA's Sunday tournaments and is also co director. David has directed Virtual Chess Tournaments for Millburn Education Foundation since 2021.

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Nikita
Sharma

Math Contest (K-5)

Nikita Sharma helped with the K-5 math contest. She has been a Millburn resident since 2019. By profession, she is a seasoned marketing consultant for global healthcare companies with a strong engineering and math background. She is passionate about math and believes that math is not just about learning mathematical formulas or number crunching; it is about developing critical thinking and logical problem-solving skills. Nikita is the MathKangaroo program manager for South Mountain Elementary School and is an active volunteer for Washington School Math programs as well. She believes math is useful for every child and aims to promote a growth mindset through MATH (Mistakes Allow Thinking to Happen). With this approach, she is excited to design and judge these math contests with the goal that children enjoy math and are not intimidated by it. 

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Priyanka
Porwal

Math Contest (6-8)

Priyanka Porwal helped with the math contest for grades 6-8. She is the Director and Owner of Eye Level Learning Center and has a double masters degree in Statistics and Computer Science. She has taught a variety of subjects to school children of all ages. She has also taught Statistics and Computer courses to adults and has worked with the elderly in technology and computers. Being passionate about education and after researching the Eye Level curriculum for over a year, Priyanka concluded that Eye Level was the best curriculum for her own daughter! So she decided to run center in Summit for all the children in our area. After all they are our future!

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SitalaKahmi
Seshadrinathan

Math Contest (9-12)

Sitalakahmi Seshadrinathan helped with the 9-12 math contest. She  is a math graduate and has been teaching math for over 5 decades. Since she moved to the US 8 years ago, she has been tutoring middle and high school kids on mathematics, both in-person and virtually. She devised unique teaching methods which became very popular with the student community at school and college level. Hundreds of students have been motivated by her unique style of inculcating love for Mathematics. With her penchant for continuously improving math appetite for children, she made an in-depth study of Vedic Mathematics and wrote a book on that topic. She has addressed students in schools and colleges giving lectures on speed Math using Vedic Mathematics principles. She has also been creating interest in this field through her articles in popular magazines.

Anya
Parker-Lentz

Coding Challenge

Anya Parker-Lentz is the founder of Landau Agency, a digital marketing company for modern entrepreneurs. She studied applied physics at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and completed many coding projects during her computer science classes and multiple hackathons. Anya enjoys seeing – and playing – live music in NYC and skateboarding or climbing outside on sunny days.

Ana
Sepetovska

Coding Challenge

Ana Sepetovska is a software engineer at Microsoft. She studied computer science at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and worked as a teaching assistant during her time there. In her free time, Ana enjoys hiking, bullet journaling, and seeing live music near her home in Seattle.

GENsay
SAZCI

In-Person Chess Tournament

Gensay Sazci, currently 24 years old, started learning chess at the age of 5 and entered his first regional tournament at 6. Living in Istanbul, Turkey, he gained regional recognition. In his high school years he became the chess champion in Istanbul International Schools Chess Championship for 3 consecutive years. In his last year of high school, the Sazci brothers came to Millburn, New Jersey. In his time in Millburn High School, for the first time MHS won an award in chess, by becoming second as a team in the New Jersey Chess Varsity tournament. With Bilgen and other two players, they also won the Top High School team title in The U.S . Amateur Team East Chess Championship 46th Anniversary in 2016. He has been teaching chess professionally for over 6 years. He graduated Rutgers University with Summa Cum Laude.

BILGEN
SAZCI

In-Person Chess Tournament

Bilgen Sazci, currently 22 years old, started chess when he was 4.5. He became a prominent chess player fast, by attaining Istanbul Chess Champion title for many times. During his participation in the national championships, he became a member of the national team. He represented Turkey in Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Romania, and other places with international success. U-9 category he became 4th in World Scholastic championship in Greece. As mentioned above, with his success Millburn High School became successful in chess. As he moved to Millburn from Istanbul Turkey at the beginning of his high school career, he became the champion in the 46th National Chess Congress Philadelphia in U2000 section and the champion in the 48th National Chess Congress Philadelphia in U2200. In his junior year of high school, the high school chess team became the national champions with his major contributions. With his rating above 2250, he is a National Master of chess. He is currently studying in Rutgers University.

Jesús
Nunez

Art Contest

Artist Jesús Núñez is the creator and main contributor of the J.Nuñez Gallery in Millburn, NJ. His story is a unique one, with many ups and downs, but is proof that perseverance and belief in yourself is all you need to succeed. Originally from Spain, Jesús used street art to express himself as a teenager. As he matured he turned to the culinary arts. He pursued a three decade long career as an executive chef and restaurant owner in many elite restaurants in Spain and New York City. The New York Times called his cuisine “edible art” and compared Jesús to famed Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.​​After two successful years running his Millburn gallery, which specializes in abstract art, Jesús expanded his vision by opening a second location in Summit. This new space focuses on representational and non-abstract art, as well as fine art photography. Jesús has always been an artist and with that comes belief in yourself, no matter what setbacks life throws at you. He simply turned in his knives for paint brushes and brushes into running art galleries. What's next? Stay tuned this is only the beginning.

Emily
Konopinski

Art Contest

Emily is an active artist in the New York City area. Her artistic pursuits began with ink and paint but expanded into the film world alongside director, Pete Chatmon. Their films traveled to acclaimed festivals and theaters around the world. Over time, bringing art into the classroom became the perfect place for Emily to marry her passions for creativity and curiosity. As a teacher and curriculum writer at Cicely Tyson School for the Performing Arts, Emily had the joy of teaching and learning from thousands of young people. Emily has participated in group and solo shows across the region and her murals cover the halls of many public school buildings. Public and private commissions are among her creative contributions.

Reshma
Gorde

Art Contest

Reshma Gorde is a resident of Millburn/Short Hills. Her personal journey in art has been surreal. She is a self-taught artist who started by capturing images of travel diaries, and portraits on canvas. Over time, the work evolved into more abstraction. Her research and expression of the world, through art, has intrigued her enough to leave a successful corporate career behind and has truly changed the way she perceives life. She says "Nature is a tremendous inspiration in my most recent works, which are a celebration of colors and the rhythms of nature. The choice of textures on canvas enables me to express the complexities of the realms of nature. My interest is to communicate the emotional as well as physical essence of each landscape I capture in an authentic way. I wish that each piece of my art will strike a conversation for the viewer and evoke profound connection to themselves and the captured image."

Dr. Preeti
Arya

Environmental Challenge

Dr. Preeti Arya is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Textile Development and Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NY. She teaches Textile Science, Textile Finishes, Coloration & Sustainable Applications, Textile Product Development, and Performance Textiles. Her PhD is in Textile Science and Technology, and her area of research interest is sustainability in chemical finishes, textile processing, performance textiles, natural composites, and closed-loop textile production systems. Dr. Arya has presented research papers at several research conferences and is always willing to collaborate with academic researchers and companies to encourage research and development. Dr. Arya has been quoted in several articles published in the past few years. She has presented at several industry conferences where she has been invited to speak as a specialist. With over 22 years of academic and industry experience, Dr. Arya is a strong supporter and a regular spokesperson of sustainable products, and practices in the textile industry at various professional platforms, academic and industrial conferences, seminars as well as her local community. 

reshma
Gorde

Reshma Gorde is a resident of Millburn/Short Hills. Her personal journey in art has been surreal. She is a self-taught artist who started by capturing images of travel diaries and portraits on canvas. Over time, the work evolved into more abstraction. Her research and expression of the world, through art, has intrigued her enough to leave a successful corporate career behind and has truly changed the way she perceives life. She says "Nature is a tremendous inspiration in my most recent works, which are a celebration of colors and the rhythms of nature. The choice of textures on canvas enables me to express the complexities of the realms of nature. My interest is to communicate the emotional as well as physical essence of each landscape I capture in an authentic way. I wish that each piece of my art will strike a conversation for the viewer and evoke profound connection to themselves and the captured image"

reshma
Gorde

Reshma Gorde is a resident of Millburn/Short Hills. Her personal journey in art has been surreal. She is a self-taught artist who started by capturing images of travel diaries and portraits on canvas. Over time, the work evolved into more abstraction. Her research and expression of the world, through art, has intrigued her enough to leave a successful corporate career behind and has truly changed the way she perceives life. She says "Nature is a tremendous inspiration in my most recent works, which are a celebration of colors and the rhythms of nature. The choice of textures on canvas enables me to express the complexities of the realms of nature. My interest is to communicate the emotional as well as physical essence of each landscape I capture in an authentic way. I wish that each piece of my art will strike a conversation for the viewer and evoke profound connection to themselves and the captured image"

reshma
Gorde

Reshma Gorde is a resident of Millburn/Short Hills. Her personal journey in art has been surreal. She is a self-taught artist who started by capturing images of travel diaries and portraits on canvas. Over time, the work evolved into more abstraction. Her research and expression of the world, through art, has intrigued her enough to leave a successful corporate career behind and has truly changed the way she perceives life. She says "Nature is a tremendous inspiration in my most recent works, which are a celebration of colors and the rhythms of nature. The choice of textures on canvas enables me to express the complexities of the realms of nature. My interest is to communicate the emotional as well as physical essence of each landscape I capture in an authentic way. I wish that each piece of my art will strike a conversation for the viewer and evoke profound connection to themselves and the captured image"

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