Director, The Alpha Workshops Studio School

As a School Director with over 20 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, Leisa acts as chief administrator and program manager for both the Introductory and Advanced courses. Leisa additionally oversees the Graduate Internship program and teaches professional skills and career readiness to Advanced students. Fueled by her passionate belief in youth development and community outreach, Leisa previously established and led her own nonprofit organization to provide after­school/out­of­school programs for more than 3,000 young people throughout New York City. A strong advocate for volunteerism, Leisa continues to lend her time and organizational experience to a variety of other community organizations. Leisa holds degrees in Theology and Management, and will soon achieve an anticipated Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership.


Decorative Arts Instructor

Carol is a professional fine artist and writer with over 25 years of international contract work in decorative painting and restoration. She holds a Masters in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, as well as a degree in Illustration from The School of Visual Arts and a degree in Creative Arts Therapy from The New School. Carol spent six years as the Interior Renovator for The Frick Collection, where she completed comprehensive restoration work throughout the Collection and Library buildings. In her fine art practice, Carol combines big ­brush painting with an awareness of The Five Elements. She is also an active legacy builder for an artist’s estate.


Studio Project Manager & Adjunct Advanced Instructor

The head of the onsite Finishes & Fabrications Studio, Ed guides students and artisans alike through a varied array of projects, mediums, and techniques. A degree in studio art from Brown University launched a 30­ year career in the decorative arts, including a artistic & architectural assistantship to renowned artist Richard Haas and 17 years as a master artisan at The Alpha Workshops. Ed’s advanced class instruction encompasses scale drawing, color matching, gilding, 3­D carving, and the traditional art of Negoro Nuri. His distinguished designs and decorative work grace cultural institutions, restaurants, residences, hotels, educational facilities, and licensed products. A talented singer, musician, and culinary enthusiast, Ed also studies opera and cooking.


Studio Project Manager & Adjunct Advanced Instructor

As head of Alpha’s offsite Finishes & Fabrication studio since 1996, Russell manages site-­specific design installations for large-­scale interior treatments and custom art commissions. His AWSS class offerings include mural composition & execution, historic faux finishes, and advanced Venetian plasterwork. During his tenure at Fiorucci as Assistant Art and Display Director, Russell created original murals, silk­screened displays, and handpainted store windows. Three decades’ experience as a freelance decorative artist for residential and commercial clients also included professional work for General Patina and Morningstar Studios, a custom wallpaper studio. Russell holds degrees in Fine Art from both Westminster College and The University of Utah, and explores conceptual tensions surrounding lifecycle processes through mixed ­media pieces.


Studio Project Manager & Adjunct Advanced Instructor



Founder | Executive Director & Adjunct Instructor

Ken founded The Alpha Workshops in 1995, after a decade working with the AIDS Resource Center helping to develop the nation’s first housing program for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. In the ten years prior to that he was a decorative painter and worked with several interior design firms, including Parish ­Hadley, Georgina Fairholme, and Renny Saltzman. Ken also worked with fashion designer Mary McFadden, the New York Shakespeare Festival, and the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. The 1997 recipient of the Diego Lopez AIDS Service Award, NYC Chapter, National Association of Social Workers, Ken holds an M.S.W. from the Hunter College School of Social Work, an MA in acting and directing from the University of Pittsburgh, and a certificate in acting from The Drama Studio, London. As Executive Director, Ken helps to oversee all of Alpha’s operations, including training and employment, administration, funding, sales and marketing, business management, and board development.




Former Studio Project Manager & Adjunct Advanced Instructor

With over 35 years of professional experience in the decorative arts, former adjunct advanced AWSS instructor Barry Axtell emphasized craftsmanship and creativity in his popular patterning & wallpaper production courses. The son of noted Western watercolorist Richard Axtell, Barry studied Theater Design & Painting at Northern Arizona University before embarking upon a venerable scenic design career in the film and television industry. Amongst his many contributions to The Alpha Workshops’ wallpaper designs, he conceived and executed the award­winning Texture Collection of folded papers. His unique designs fueled several series of licensed vinyl wallcoverings for Thibaut, Koroseal, and Brewster Home Fashions, as well as handmade carpeting for Edward Fields. Barry’s creative talent also finds expression in music and the culinary arts; he plays both the flute and bassoon, and is an accomplished amateur chef. Barry resides in Palm Springs.