Meet our Staff

Anita Durst


Artistic Director

Anita Durst has been a star, a muse, and a patron of the avant-garde performing arts and emerging arts scene in New York City, since she was 18. She founded chashama in 1995 following the death of her mentor and artistic professor Reza Abdoh. While performing and working in his company, Dar A Luz, she learned the value of unbridled expression and how to value art objectively. In the wake of Reza’s absence she was driven to create a place for artists free of financial and subjective constraints. Anita has worked tirelessly for over 20 years to secure over one million square feet of space in New York City for artists. She believes programs like chashama are the vital building blocks to ensuring cultural capital in New York City. Anita was born in New York City and was the flower child to hippy parents living in New Foundland Canada, Ibiza Spain, and the suburbs of New York City. As a precocious teenager she resisted conventional schooling. Shortly after graduating high school she moved back to New York City to help care for her grandfather. Today, Anita sits on the boards of the Tai Chi Chuan Center and Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. She is a recipient of The Black Alumni of Pratt's "Creative Spirit" Award and a proud mother and loving wife, who ensures her entire family eats healthy, practices mindful movement, and lives in the moment. True to her ability to be in the moment and greatest strength of objective thinking she believes all art to be valuable.

Email Anita | phone: (212) 391-8151 x21

Bonnie Goldblum


Executive Director

Bonnie Goldblum joined chashama in September 2016. Bonnie brings with her a unique, multi-dimensional perspective informed by over 20 years of experience in museums, cultural institutions, schools, grassroots organizations, and historic house museums. Rounding out the non-profit experience, Bonnie also created an herbal and floral ice cream and sorbet company using the plants from a local community garden and practiced law for several years. By far, being the “ice-cream/sorbet lady” has been her favorite job--until now. When not in her office working or admiring the amazing view of the Chrysler Building just outside of her office window, Bonnie can be found wandering around NYC neighborhoods in search of interesting grocery stores and beauty.

Email Bonnie | phone: (212) 391-8151 x27

Maurya Brennan


Special Events Manager

Maurya joined the chashama team in January 2017. In her role, she manages logistics and strategy for donor cultivation and fundraising events. Prior to joining chashama, she held positions in major gifts and event planning at Helen Keller International, Camy Calve Events, and International Society for the Performing Arts. Maurya received a B.A. in French and International Relations from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Email Maurya | phone: (212) 391-8151 x42

Kaetlin Ritchie


Executive Assistant

Kaetlin joined the chashama team in February 2016. Prior to chashama, Kaety was an AmeriCorps member with AVODAH in Washington, DC. She worked in the community with Yachad, an affordable housing non-profit, where she fed her love of helping people and hearing their stories - she is happy to have a similar opportunity in her role with chashama. Kaety also has teaching and song leading experience, which she occasionally puts to good use. Originally from Virginia, she is excited to finally be in the big apple and is grateful for the quality time spent with her Brooklyn family. Kaetlin enjoys new adventures, taking time to be inspired by the world around her and ALL savory foods.

Email Kaetlin | phone: (212) 391-8151 x43

Janusz Jaworski


Programs Director

Janusz Jaworski began working for chashama as a lighting designer for Deli Dances 2000. Shortly thereafter, he used the DSL closet under the stairs on the second floor of 135 W 42nd Street as a painting studio. He has worn many hats at chashama: artistic director and manager of TIXE, visual arts program director, general manager, and currently the program director (visual and performing). He is on the board of directors for Culture Push, a non-profit with a mission to create lively exchanges of ideas between many different communities; artists and non-artists, professional practitioners and laypeople, across generations, neighborhoods, and cultures. He appreciates all sorts of chocolate.

Email Janusz | phone: (212) 391-8151 x26

Sarah Zolt-Gilburne


Program Assistant

Sarah Zolt-Gilburne often goes by simply "ZG." A hoarder of jars and tupperware, a reader/maker of comix and zines, an "easy laugh," and a closeted schmaltzy-sentimentalist, ZG cherishes little more than a good play on words. One Halloween, ZG ironed vinyl letters spelling "Subtle" on a tee-shirt. No one got it--ZG relished the great "iron-y" of the Subtle-tee's success. Gertrude Stein once said, “I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences." ZG feels that there has been little more exciting than diagramming Gertrude Stein's sentences. Well, except diagramming Gertrude Stein's sentences in French.

Email Sarah | phone: (212) 391-8151 x41

Colby Cannon Welsh


Operations Manager

Email Colby | phone: (212) 391-8151 x23

Goro Ikeda - Iyeki


Assistant Manager

From an early age, Goro began collecting and recording unique environmental data pertaining to the majestic 'Spaceship Earth', a planetary ark that hurtles around the sun at an astounding 66,000mph. Because he recalls nothing prior to his boarding Spaceship Earth, he intends to bring his accounts with him for his return journey on the Galactic Railroad. A Quarter of the way through his incubation period on this ship, he joined the entity known as 'chashama' where he is enabled to put his information-obsession to best use. In time, he hopes to find a venue where he can collaborate with others on the conception, construction and presentation of novel sense-resources. When he is not at chashama, You can find him trawling at the Library, the Internets, the Palace of Moving Images or looking at Art in the Meat-Space.

Email Goro | phone: (212) 391-8151 x25

Chelsea Escher


Communications Manager

Dancer, teacher, and arts administrator Chelsea Escher happily joins the chashama team as the Communications Manager. She graduated from Roger Williams University with two B.A. degrees in Public Relations and Dance and Performance Studies. She has gained much of her experience working in the nonprofit and arts fields from her time at RWU, WaterFire Providence, the Abrons Arts Center, and doing freelance consulting and marketing work for independent dance artists. A New England girl at heart, Chelsea moved to NYC from NH 2 years ago to pursue her performance career. Alongside her work as a company member for Kizuna Dance and other freelance dance projects, she is a boutique fitness fanatic and teaches children's ballet. Chelsea loves traveling, crafting, and dressing up, and will always bring her endless enthusiasm to any situation.

Email Chelsea | phone: (212) 391-8151 x32

Cayla Casciani


Program Coordinator, Housing

Email Cayla | phone: (212) 391-8151 x30

Alison Bellucci



Alison joined chashama as our accountant. She hails from the high finance departments of several NY apparel retailers. At chashama Alison is able to work in the field she loves, art, while performing the vocation she knows, numbers. Her unusually cluttered desk, seen in her photo, displays an artistic side not usually seen in accounting. At home, Alison is a wife, mother of two, and proudly has the companionship of a cat and a dog. Proud because they are the only ones who listen to her.

Email Alison | phone: (212) 391-8151 x44

Deborah Zeolla



Email Deborah | phone: (212) 391-8151 x28

Zachary Rees


Lord of Technology

Email Zachary | phone: (212) 391-8151

Jessica Roses


Graphic Designer

Despising her upbringing in humid South Florida, Jessica is thriving in New York City and does not have a southern accent. She is attending Parsons the New School for Design with a major in illustration and a minor in creative entrepreneurship. In addition to furthering chashama’s mission through her unique designs, Jessica one day hopes to publish her own graphic novel. When she is not working, Jessica enjoys reading Batman comics, knitting, and jamming out to obscure hipster bands you have probably never heard of. She prefers all her belongings to be purple and covered in glitter.

Email Jessica | phone: (212) 391-8151

Marc Dale


Documentarian / Archivist

From Anacostia in Washington, DC. Assists in the coordination of archival and programming materials, office accounting, communications and logistics. Organization co-founder.

Email Marc | phone: (212) 391-8151 x46

Jenna Purcell


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Akiva Blander


Communications Assistant

Akiva has been the Communications Assistant at Chashama since April, assisting with projects related to the annual gala and the production and launching of the new website. He graduated from McGill University in Montreal in 2016 with an honors degree in Urban Geography, and has previously done operations and research with the Workmen’s Circle, the Met Council, NYU Medical Center, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. Born and bred in Brooklyn, Akiva is passionate about all things architecture, design, planning and research.

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chashama nurtures artists by transforming unused property into work and presentation space.

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