Digital Dragon was born when the founders’ nine-year-old son fell in love with technology. After an exciting summer at tech camp, the family went looking for an after school program in the fall, but none existed. The Finns believed they were like many local parents who want their children to pursue their interest in tech thoughtfully, creatively, and with brainpower. So they launched Digital Dragon.
Their son, a budding technologist, is now a high school senior, teaching part time, and the business has grown too. Technology continues to evolve but the vision that started Digital Dragon remains the same: To provide kids with well-rounded exposure to technology so they can find their own passion. The Finns are UCLA grads who run all aspects of the business and strive to make sure every family has a great experience from start to finish. They look forward to taking this tech adventure with you!
Seth Finn has a background in non-profit having worked in East LA for the Boyle Heights College Institute, as well as a Community Relations Director for the Seattle SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder). While working for the Sonics, Seth created and managed a technology program offered to Seattle Public School’s 50,000 students. Seth also served in the enviable role of stay-at-home dad for the better part of his son’s elementary education. During this time he was elected to school site governance in addition to other roles at Roosevelt Elementary School in Santa Monica.
Laurie Kantor Finn
Laurie started her career in the entertainment industry as a segment producer for Entertainment Tonight, followed by creating and producing Access Hollywood. She continued her work with celebrity talent, producing photo shoots and interviews, as West Coast Editor at Stuff Magazine. Most recently she headed up the talent and casting department at cable network, G4TV, which featured a lot of tech and gaming content (in fact it was previously called TechTV). As her son has matriculated through Santa Monica schools, Laurie was and continues to be very active at Roosevelt Elementary, Lincoln Middle School, and Santa Monica High School.
Jack is a computer programmer who has been teaching kids to code and sharing his enthusiasm for computer science for years. Jack is a graduate of the Applied Computer Graphics program at CSU Chico, where he studied 3D modeling and animation in addition to computer science. His passion however is creating games, both recreating classics and designing never before seen experiences. He has shared this love of creating fun and interesting projects with students over the years in all kinds of ways, from programming LEGO machines to creating Minecraft mods.
When Jack isn’t creating new games or teaching programming principles to kids, he can probably be found playing Dungeons and Dragons or the Highland bagpipes — a nerd in every sense of the word.
Chris grew up on Army Posts all over the United States, took up learning about technology, photography, and music as ways to keep himself occupied during the many moves. By high school in Pittsburgh, PA, he became heavily involved in the school’s television program finding a passion for content creation. He continued this at Wofford College in South Carolina, eventually directing for their sports broadcasting department. From there, he worked in Newport Beach with a small publishing company before pursuing his MFA in Film and Digital Technology in Pittsburgh, with an interest in the proliferation of usable consumer equipment in the realm of filmmaking and its effect on the landscape of independent film.
Chris volunteered teaching filmmaking camps while in school and found the opportunity to spark the same passion for creativity that his teachers did for him extremely rewarding.
Technology Educator, utilizing experimental and emerging design software. Studied Fine Arts and Community Art Engagement at Otis College of Art and Design. An active member of the Los Angeles contemporary art scene. You’ll find Yeltsin at museum and gallery exhibitions, lectures, publishing events and film screenings.
At Digital Dragon, Yeltsin has the unique opportunity to guide students in the creative process and achieve goals beyond any limit. He is always excited to share his experiences, and research with our students. “It’s a great pleasure to collaborate with students and develop projects they can truly feel passionate about. Every student that works with us gets the chance to craft something they are proud of.” He is honored to be part of a passionate team!
When not busy with all that, he is a PC Building hobbyist and is currently working on an array of projects involving contemporary technology and communication.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan
Jon Kaufman has been passionate about technology his whole life. He holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a MLA in Software Engineering from Harvard Extension School.
After many years of developing software professionally, Jon found the opportunity to pass the knowledge on through Digital Dragon. Jon’s classes focus on coding fundamentals, creativity, and collaboration.
In his free time, Jon enjoys motorcycles, skateboarding, creative coding, and nature.
Nicole is a recent graduate of California Institute of the Arts where she majored in Music Technology and minored in Digital Arts. Music production and songwriting is her main passion. Nicole also finds a lot of joy in photo editing, graphic design, filmmaking and various other digital artworks.
At Digital Dragon, she loves being able to introduce new and developing technologies to young children and help them expand on their passions. She loves to share her experiences with her students and hopes they find ways to express themselves through creative outlets.
When she is not teaching at Digital Dragon, Nicole can be found working as a live sound engineer in venues all over LA. She also works as a vocalist and songwriter with people from all over the world and even has her own critically acclaimed musical project.
Anthony is a passionate 3D animation and game design artist. Currently, they are in school for a Master’s degree. They majored in Simulation, Animation, and Game Design with a minor in computer science. They also plan to receive a CTE certification within a year or two.
Right after graduating, Eastern Michigan University hired Anthony as a Simulation and 3D design lecturer as they started working on personal projects and freelance work. Anthony’s favorite part of the 3D pipeline is particle simulations (Bi-frost). They always have had a passion for teaching and the 3D world, with class focus on proper 3D animation, modeling, texturing, lighting, coding fundamentals, and fundamentals of a 3D pipeline process – which the students at Digital Dragon will now benefit from.
When Anthony isn’t working on 3D design and coding, they enjoy horror movies or games, makeup design, Dungeons and Dragons, and magnet fishing.
After John finished his Design & Media Arts (DMA) degree at UCLA, he continued on to get his masters degree in Video Game Design at the University of Utah. John’s work and passion often leads him to explore game design principles whether he’s working on spectator driven art pieces or video games. John loves exploring programming and game design with his students because of the unique ways each student goes through and fixes their problems in ingenious or interesting ways.
When John isn’t behind a keyboard, he is usually in nature: sport climbing, backpacking or mountaineering, accompanied by his camera.
Michael is a recent graduate of UCLA as a Design and Media Arts major, interested in the intersection of technology and creativity. When not at school, he explores all avenues of creative expression such as freelance graphic and web design, coding, and film. He has a particular interest in combining biological feedback processes with videography. His works stems from a desire to bring communities together and communicate with others across language and geographic barriers.
Michael enjoys spreading his knowledge to the younger generation at Digital Dragon, by teaching students all the cool things he is an expert in!
Michael is an avid reader and an even bigger outdoor enthusiast. His favorite thing to do is combine the two, often going camping for the weekend to read without distraction.
Special Projects: Casey
Casey started at Digital Dragon four years ago as Studio Coordinator and advanced to the Education Programs Manager where she oversaw all education and enrichment programs, development, and staff. She has greatly enjoyed watching students grow up with Digital Dragon through the years. Casey is now a consultant with DD – working on special projects.
In addition to her time with DD, she has spent another eight years teaching and directing programs for kids, technology-based or otherwise, on both the east and west coasts. She loves creating and fostering a culture where fun is inherent in the learning process and environment, and students can pursue their passions.
In her free time, Casey likes to get outside into zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and really anywhere that she can enjoy a good walk and the Southern California weather.
Tech Education Explorer & Consultant: John Balash
John Balash is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.
John is an alumnus of Notre Dame College, with degrees in education, fine art, and graphic design. After graduating, he taught creative computer applications for over five years at a private academy in Northeast Ohio. Always eager to learn and constantly surrounded by technology, he continues to forge a path between education and entertainment. With a diverse background of education and art, John hopes to develop entertainment that is engaging, meaningful, and progressive. John has a Master’s of Entertainment Technology, from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D, Educational/Instructional Technology, from Ohio University.
John was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now consulting on all the latest and greatest in tech education. You can read his blog, “Tech News From the Frontier” on our blog page.