Introducing Katie Barthelow, our new Program Manager for Maker Corps!

My older sister and I loved making music and super cool dance moves
My older sister and I loved making music and super cool dance moves

Hi all! I’m Katie, and I hail from a small island (think 2,000 residents) off the coast of Washington state where I took a ferry to school, and everyone I knew was a maker of some sort because there were few formalized jobs. I grew up with a best friend whose parents made a living blowing glass. My dad was a cabinet maker turned software engineer turned pinball machine repairer, and my mom a writer, so making was all around me. One of my earliest memories is of the biweekly trips my dad and I would take to the island dump (there was no trash collection). I was allowed to select one thing from the “take it or leave it mall” each trip, and without fail I would pick a broken electronic item and spend hours at the dining room table taking every screw out of it until all of the pieces lay isolated before me. I never got into putting them back together; instead, I preferred to make art projects out of the pieces.

When growing up in a small community, particularly one geographically isolated by a maddening ferry system, imagination is expertly cultivated and treasured. Imagination is a chief tool in any sort of making, and my imagination took me from spending hours building intricate gnome villages in the forest, to jumping from behind a hanging sheet into live tv commercials about my best friend’s weiner-dog. In adulthood, I’ve tried to hang on to that imagination and the belief that building something that exists first as only a wacky idea in your head is both exhilarating and incredibly generative.

Storytelling workshop in Panama
Storytelling workshop in Panama

As of late, my own making has centered around storytelling (some digital and some not). I believe storytelling to be an amazing tool for reflection, self expression, and empathy building, and is one of the oldest traditions among humans. In January I spent time in Panama (a place dear to my heart that I called home years ago) and worked with young people to help them create a mini-movie. In two days they wrote, set designed, filmed, and acted in a movie of their creation. You can learn more about their unique community and watch their movie (and a short behind the scenes documentary) here.

ImageOh! I also made my first quilt last fall, for a friend whose daughter recently had a baby. I was very proud of how it turned out, and want to embark on a new sewing project soon! Yesterday I impulse-bought two large canvases and some paint with grand ideas for decorating my bedroom; it will be another first in a new medium so we’ll see how that turns out.

I am incredibly excited and honored to be the newest member of the Maker Ed team as the Program Manager for Maker Corps. I feel privileged to join such an amazing team who is dedicated to work I really believe in. I am passionate about engaging young people in different ways of learning, and am especially inspired by making’s ability to develop confidence in young people, particularly young girls.



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One response to “Introducing Katie Barthelow, our new Program Manager for Maker Corps!”

  1. Leah Avatar

    Go Katie! Your recollection of taking apart broken electronic items resonates with a close relation of yours.

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