Share

The GSP Team

The GSP Team

01

Jesse Baerkahn

Neighborhood Strategy + Retail Development

What do you do at Graffito?

I get to touch all aspects of our business, from drafting SOWs for new projects, to leading some of our hairiest strategy + leasing assignments, to creating the agenda for our weekly team lunches.

What is your educational + professional background?

I’ve been a small business lawyer, artist/musician manager, and ran a student directory business, the latter of which I started while an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I attended law school at Northeastern University here in Boston, a truly progressive place that advanced my passion for social justice, taught me how to read a contract, and brought me together with a classmate turned business partner who first dragged me over to Kendall Square for a real estate project in 2004.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

I consume a lot of music via podcast and my current favorite is a radio show by the German Trance DJ duo Cosmic Gate. For current events and news I listen to The Daily a few times a week and Brian Dacey (President of CIC) recently turned me onto the weekly show Why Is This Happening, With Chris Hayes, which is really solid. For retail trends and news I listen to Omni Talk, a weekly show produced and hosted by two Target alums that I’ve got to know through a project we’ve been working on in Minneapolis. Lastly, as related to issues of race, equity, justice and multi-culturalism, I listen to Code Switch, which should be on everyone’s list.

02

Melissa Castro

Operations + Business Strategy

What do you do at Graffito?

I oversee operations and new business strategy at Graffito SP. At my core, I’m a creative problem solver and people manager. On a day-to-day, I support the Team as the Chief of Staff focused on driving productivity and stewarding our DEI efforts.

What is your educational + professional background?

Most recently I was the Director of Business Development at CommonWealth Kitchen, Greater Boston’s food business accelerator. In this role, I worked with small businesses and entrepreneurs who are predominantly women, immigrants, and people of color. I hold a B.A. in Marketing and Communications from UMass Amherst and an M.B.A. from Babson College. Before business school, I spent 9 years working in NYC for several digital marketing agencies focused on the financial services sector in hybrid project management and client services roles.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

My favorite is Latino USA, produced and hosted by Maria Hinojosa from Futuro Media, an independent, nonprofit organization based in Harlem, NYC with the mission to create multimedia content to empower people to navigate the complexities of an increasingly diverse and connected world. Latino USA focuses on telling stories often overlooked by mainstream media by expanding on narratives that lack racial equity. The podcasts help me stay informed on topics that are important to my community such as The Vaccine Inequity Pandemic, The fight for Abortion Rights in the Dominican Republic, The History of Reggaeton, and Mezcal: From Farms to Bars.

For long road trips, I geek out on true crime podcasts. My favorite is Sword and Scale, it covers the dark side of humanity and human nature; interviews with criminals, witnesses, victims, authors, 911 call audio, witness testimony, trial audio, interrogation tapes, music, and sound effects. The stories are suspenseful and carefully narrated, keeping me focused and engaged while driving.

03

Dave Downing

Retail Leasing + Development

What do you do at Graffito?

I lead Graffito’s leasing practice, which includes early-stage retail advisory work through detailed lease negotiations for both Landlords and Tenants.

What is your educational + professional background?

Prior to joining the Graffito team full-time in 2012, I helped oversee the development of Watermark Kendall East, a 144-unit mixed use residential project in Kendall Square, Cambridge MA. This role offered me the opportunity to build skills in permitting, client relations, budgeting, team coordination, leasing and tenant fit-up management. I hold a BS in Business Administration from Northeastern with a concentration in Finance and Marketing.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

For a good laugh, I listen to Smartless. For my news and world updates, I listen to Up First, The Indicator, and The Journal. For inspiration, I listen to How I Built This and Code Switch.

04

Johanna Loughran

Finance + Administration

What do you do at Graffito?

I take care of all of the bookkeeping and business administrative tasks.

What is your educational + professional background?

I have been doing accounting and HR for the past nine years, working mostly with restaurants and cafes. I started my career working for a large company in Philadelphia and then moved back to Boston and fell in love with small businesses. BA in Psychology from the University of Vermont.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

Lately, I have been listening to Dr. Death which focuses on stories of medical malpractice. I also enjoy The Astrology Podcast and Chameleon: High Rollers.

05

Drew Katz

Creative Services & Branding

What do you do at Graffito?

I lead Graffito ID (GID), which is what we are calling Graffito’s newly formed creative services and branding division. GID helps our colleagues and clients tell stories through branding, environmental graphics, and website design. As a photographer, I’m also busy documenting our projects from the land and air. Most importantly, I make sure that my colleagues are up to date on the latest sour gummy candies available on the market.

What is your educational + professional background?

Shortly after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, I opened a fine art gallery in Boston’s South End. The gallery, which featured mostly formalist works heavily based in architecture and design, gave artist Shepard Fairey his first solo exhibition in the city. Since closing the gallery, I served as the Associate Publisher for the critically acclaimed periodical, New American Paintings, received an MBA from Babson College, and founded Creative Katz, an agency focused on creative direction, graphic design, photography, web strategy, content management, and project management for industries ranging from healthcare to hospitality. Most recently, I worked at marlo marketing as Chief Creative Officer, which is the role I left to join Graffito.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

Ironically, as the host of a podcast, I probably listen to them the least of anyone on our team. Maybe it’s not surprising if you’ve heard the podcast, but I digress…If I’m walking or driving, I tend to stick to podcasts with interviews and I like some laughs along the way, like Armchair Expert and Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend. Meanwhile, if you ask me for my favorite tv shows, I’ll crush you with suggestions.

06

Brooke Porter

Creative Services + Branding

What do you do at Graffito?

As a graphic designer, I offer creative solutions that help define our clients’ (and our own) branding and storytelling. I specialize in creating and maintaining brand identity systems, as well as website design and development. I’m excited to further explore different types of design such as environmental and wayfinding graphics, and bring to life the unique stories of the spaces and clients we work with.

What is your educational + professional background?

Shortly after high school, I received an Associates Degree in Advanced Culinary Arts from the Connecticut Culinary Institute (I make a mean crepe). I worked in the restaurant industry for a little while, and eventually went back to school to pursue a graphic design degree. A two-year stint at Manchester Community College (CT) got me an Associates Degree in Graphic Design, and I then transferred to the University of Hartford from which I received a BFA in Visual Communication Design in 2015. While in school, I worked as a designer for three years at Sunrise Marketing, a small marketing firm in Hartford, CT. After graduating from UHart, I accepted a new job at marlo marketing in Boston, where I worked for more than four years as a senior designer and chief supporter of Drew’s candy habit. I left marlo to join the Graffito team as of January 2020, and the future is wide open!

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

My colleagues might shun me for this, but truthfully I’m just not that into podcasts – besides our own, of course! I’m much more of a visual learner than an auditory one, so I tend to listen to podcasts only occasionally as a means of background noise while working. My guilty podcast pleasure is Darkness Prevails – a running collection of narrated, listener-submitted paranormal and cryptid-sighting stories. It’s equal parts cheesy and spine-tingling, perfect for some light-hearted (or dark-hearted) listening as we transition into spooky season here in New England… or maybe you’re a weirdo like me and choose to listen year-round. I seek out podcasts as a source of entertainment rather than news or useful knowledge…though if we ever happen to encounter Big Foot on one of our future Graffito food crawls (hey, you never know!) I’d definitely be the most prepared to deal with it.

07

Gustavo Quiroga

Neighborhood Strategy + Communications

What do you do at Graffito?

A bit of a utility player at Graffito, I lead early-stage planning + strategy work for neighborhood-scale projects, develop creative placemaking programs, foster community partnerships, and manage special development projects for clients.

What is your educational + professional background?

I have an MBA from Boston University and a BA in International Studies from U. Wisconsin-Madison. My past work focused on urban economic development, community + political organizing, and launching social enterprises.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

One of the things I miss since the start of the pandemic has been my regular podcast listening routines. The absence of my commute into the office each day gave me a great chunk of time to catch up on a wide range of shows across lots of genres. These days, between the 30sec walk to my home office and spending every spare moment I can with our infant son, Simon, my roster of podcasts I get a chance to listen to is super limited. Even among this list, I’m lucky to get to one or two shows a week! Here are a few of the podcasts I try to listen to semi-regularly:

The Ezra Klein Show is my favorite long-form, deep 1:1 interview show covering politics, policy and a range of fascinating topics with super interesting thinkers; The Horse Race and WGBH’s The Scrum are two musts when I need to keep tabs on state and local politics; Bon Appettit’s Food People keeps it light on all things food from cooking tips and recipes to chats with all sorts of hip chefs and restaurant owners you really want to be friends with; 99 Percent Invisible is the ‘OG’ pod on the random, oft-overlooked design idiosyncrasies of our cities, plus it was one of the original pods on the Radiotopia network from our friends at PRX!

08

Angela VanArsdale

Retail Leasing + Development

What do you do at Graffito?

I assist Landlords and Tenants through the leasing process and real estate transactions. This ranges from consulting on early stage planning, merchandising and rollout strategies all the way through to negotiating details of the lease.

What is your educational + professional background?

Prior to joining Graffito, I was a retail leasing broker at Newmark Knight Frank for 5 years. Previous to that, I was at Colliers International in a similar capacity for 5 years. My focus is on urban and urban edge areas advising both landlords and tenants through all aspects of the leasing process. I am a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and the Harvard Square Business Association. I hold a BA in economics with a minor in architectural studies from Tufts University.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

JustB Podcast, where Bethenny Frankel, American TV personality and entrepreneur, invites self-made business moguls from across all industries to chat with her about how they started, how their personalities contributed to their success, and insight into how and why their business works.

09

Corey Zehngebot

Urban Design + Planning

What do you do at Graffito?

I joined Graffito to bring my early phase design and planning expertise into the mix. Being at the table at the start of a project has allowed Graffito to work smarter and facilitate a seamless handoff when it comes time to lease. An urban design sherpa from the beginning, through the middle, and to the end-ish. Ultimately, my role is about creating great urban places, working with smart people, and being involved in a project during its full lifecycle.

What is your educational + professional background?

I studied behavioral neuroscience and history of art at Yale because I wasn’t sure yet how to combine my left and right brain interests. It wasn’t until working in Master Planning and Construction for the Museum of Fine Arts Boston that I realized architecture and urban design was a natural fit. I went on to get an architecture degree from Harvard, though I always knew that I was more interested in working at the scale of the city rather than the scale of the building. Since graduating, I’ve worked as an urban designer/architect/planner in the private sector, flipped a house, consulted to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and spent the past six years working as an urban designer and architect for the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

Other than The Graffito Podcast, what are some of your other favorite podcasts?

I love this question! My all-time favorite is 99% Invisible. If you listen to one of our GSP podcasts, I actually make a plug for 99% Invisible during the podcast. Very meta. Other podcasts I listen to regularly or semi-regularly are How I Built This, The Office Deep Dive, Revisionist History, and Talking Practice (practice in this case means architecture and design practice). Next in my queue is The Longest Shortest Time, a parenting podcast that several friends have recommended to me.