Co-founder, Executive Director, Blake Swensen:
After spending 25 years in the computer business, half of which was running his own, Blake Swensen and his wife switched roles. He became a stay-at-home dad on a mission to improve his boys' elementary school experience. Being involved closely in the public schools as a volunteer, PTA president and chess club coach -- to name a few stints -- he discovered that, although public schools are good at many things, kids whose learning strengths don't fit inside the box often struggle. One of his sons is learning-disabled and Blake wanted to create an experience where setbacks and stumbles didn't damage his fragile self-esteem. More ....
Co-Founder, Former Board President Rob van Nood:
Rob van Nood is an Oregon licensed educator now working as a Educational Technologist at Catlin Gable School. He received his MAT from Lewis & Clark in 1995. Rob has always taken a fresh look at teaching, tinkering with ideas to make the learning experience more effective. On the first day of school a few years ago, for example, Rob's kids were presented with a completely empty classroom and were instructed to help him design the space. The idea was that if kids had control of their space, they would be more willing to work within it. This out-of-the-box thinking is Rob's signature, and it's his pursuit of teaching through the use of narrative that makes Tinker Camp such a unique experience.
Director of Development
Kathi Fastnow Dirkse

Kathi Fastnow Dirkse
In her former life, Kathi Fastnow Dirkse was a Producer of Live Events and Theme Park Attractions for Universal Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering and various themed entertainment companies. She enjoyed building teams of specialized tinkerers to create engaging and immersive experiences for people around the world. While raising her two daughters, Kathi was also a Girl Scout leader, substitute elementary teacher and advocate for student mental health programs. Her tinkering focused on paper crafting and collage. Now “retired," Kathi is diving into Development for Tinker Camp, after her college classmate Blake shared his passion with her. Tinkering can take you many places, and our kids (including Kathi’s new grandson Zeke) need these supportive opportunities to grow, learn, explore and create.
Instrutor Emeritus,
Denise Slattery
Denise is a Certified Master Recycler with a passion for providing reuse and recycling education to her community, especially school-age kids. An experienced marketer, she's developed award-winning marketing, communication and branding strategy for Fortune 500 businesses and non-profits in California, Washington, Michigan, and Oregon. Denise is currently a Board Member to Recycling Advocates of Oregon, and previously held a board position at Picture Lab, a Washington State non-profit providing hands-on art literacy education in public schools geared towards students grades K -5. Denise regularly presents as a Master Recycler to business organizations participating in Portland Metro's Sustainability at Work Program. As an artist, she focuses her work on representing material reclamation and spends time tinkering in her studio at any given opportunity. Denise is now retired and is living in Europe, however, she consults with the team regularly.