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Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Youth & Arts’ new Executive Director is a familiar face

In October, MCG Youth & Arts welcomed Justin Mazzei as the new Executive Director.
While new to the position, Mazzei’s history with the organization started 15 years ago
as a volunteer after graduating from Carlow University where he was studying arts education.

“Upon graduating Carlow University, MCG Youth & Arts was at the tip top of the list of places I wanted to be a part of,” said Mazzei. “I started as a ceramic technician and in the next eleven years I grew through the organization in various roles, from teaching artist, arts integrated specialist, and studio coordinator to program director.”

During his time here, Mazzei found magic in the building and in the students.

“The amount of high quality opportunities we provide is astounding,” said Mazzei. “It is a place where your dreams can become realities. It is a place where you can see real tangible growth with the kids in our programs and its real.”

Mazzei noted that the value of the program always revealed itself when he would see a student start their time in the program shy, nervous, and weary and leave the program a strong, confident, and empowered young adult with a matured sense of who they are and what their assets are.

Between his time as program director and his new role as executive director, Mazzei stepped away from MCG Youth & Arts and worked at Andrew Street High School, a part of Propel Schools here in the region.

Although he might have been away, his heart was still at MCG Youth & Arts. It was common to still see Mazzei at exhibit receptions and program events supporting students. He even took some of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild story with him to the high school hoping to be the Frank Ross to a future Bill Strickland.

“I smile thinking of it,” noted Mazzei. “I implemented even the smallest details like playing jazz music on my record player during classes and saw the wonder and excitement and frankly confusion on the kids’ faces. Needless to say everything I did to positively impact the youth in my reach was directly pulled from the story of Frank and Bill and the experiences I had at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.”

However, Mazzei couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to fill the executive director position at MCG Youth & Arts when it was available.

In his new role as executive director, Mazzei wants to ensure that MCG Youth & Arts continues to provide world-class opportunities for youth in the region. One of his priorities is to collect and utilize meaningful data on new initiatives to expand the program’s family of partners, participants, and alumni.

When asked about potential changes, Mazzei looks to the past for inspiration. “When I think of changes I think of the process of wheel throwing that inspired a young Bill Strickland,” said Mazzei. “I think of how as a potter you are transforming the clay into something with value, something with purpose, something beautiful. I envision the same process for the program. Change is constant, but making well informed and purposeful change to ensure all students have access to programming that offers them a bright and promising future is important.”