Isaac Kestenbaum (he/him), Director, Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at MECA
Isaac Kestenbaum is a veteran audio producer and journalist. He is the co-founder, along with Josephine Holtzman, of the production company Future Projects; they most recently created the best-selling true crime podcast Midnight Son for Audible Originals. Isaac has reported extensively on climate change in Alaska, and his work has been funded by the Arctic Circle Foundation and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Isaac has also worked with Vox, NPR, The Guardian US, The GroundTruth Project, AIR, and SIERRA Magazine. He has taught and led workshops for UnionDocs, UVA, NYU, and Monson Arts.
He is the former Production Manager at the national oral history and radio project StoryCorps. Honors include a Peabody Award, a duPont Award, an Online News Association award and an Alaska Broadcasters “Goldie” Award. Isaac grew up on Deer Isle, Maine, and has worked as a farmer, a newspaper reporter and a commercial lobsterman. He attended the Salt Institute in 2008, where he wrote about the unexpected resurgence of the sturgeon in the Penobscot River.
Sam Leeds (they/them), Salt Alum, Producer, and Artist
Sam Leeds is an audio producer and artist. They are currently a producer for NPR Music's Louder Than A Riot, a podcast tracing the interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration. Their work has also been heard on Life Kit, All Things Considered, KNKX, Constellations, Field Recordings Podcast, and more. Sam is a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and holds a B.A. in Communication and Spanish from the University of Washington.
Joel Tsui (he/him) BFA '16, Salt '17, MFA '19, Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Joel Tsui is a three-time Maine College of Art alum (BFA ‘16, Salt ‘17, MFA ‘19). Currently, he is the Graduate Admissions Coordinator at MECA, a documentary photographer specializing in fine art archival, as well as a conceptual artist operating under the pseudonym Probably Joel. His interest as an artist lies in the intersection of documentary and art, and can be seen as a distilled form of visual journaling that is not defined by any single discipline.
Joel's works have been shown at the Camden International Film Festival, New England Graduate Media Symposium, and Center for Maine Contemporary Art Biennial. In his spare time (if he has any), Joel produces music with chromatic harmonicas and analogue synthesizers, and his current pandemic hobby is building mechanical keyboards.