Our Mission

NYDesigns is an economic development program of the City University of New York (CUNY) at LaGuardia Community College that catalyzes growth for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the design, fabrication, technology and maker spaces. We pursue this mission by distributing our work across three fundamental concentrations: business incubation, fabrication, and advocacy. We are proudly located in Long Island City, Queens.

Meet the team of NYDesigns

Tristan Bel

Executive Director

Tristan Bel, Executive Director

As Executive Director, Tristan designs and leads the overarching strategy for NYDesigns as well as manages the team in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Tristan has spearheaded the creation and development of product lines and the building of operations for startups and non-profit organizations in the technology and wellness/sustainability industries for over 12 years. He is recognized for his strong business acumen and for his ability to lead teams to excel consistently in a poised and happy environment.

Tristan has a MEng in Industrial Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Marseille (Grande Ecole), and a MSc in Competitive Intelligence from the Universite de St Jerome.

When he is not helping build the future of entrepreneurship, Tristan dances Argentine tango or treks in places beyond the end of the road.

Leon Ashkenazie

Finance Manager, FabLab Director

Leon Ashkenazie, Financial Manager

Leon Ashkenazie is responsible for managing all financial records, including vendor, client accounts, grant budgets as well as developing strategies for NYDesigns’ long-term financial goals.

He has over six years of experience in bookkeeping and financial advisement. Before joining the NYDesigns team he worked for photographer Stéphane Sednaoui, Patricia McMahon Photography Agency, We are Rocket Science, and a variety of other clients in the creative industries.

Geoff Hutchinson

Operations Manager

Geoff Hutchinson, Operations Manager

Geoff ensures and improves the performance and efficiency of NYDesigns’ operations and oversees the implementation of strategic goals and initiatives. He also oversees the programming that takes place in NYDesigns for residents and other key stakeholders. Additionally, he supports fundraising through grant research and proposals, data management, and reporting.

Prior to that, he worked as a strategy consultant for Tusk Strategies, a high profile political strategy firm, where he implemented strategic initiatives for Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofit organizations, and interest and trade groups. Geoff received his BA in Political Science from Vanderbilt University’s College of Arts & Science.

He lives in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn and enjoys cooking, collecting vintage records, and listening to podcasts at 2x speed.

Denise Espinal

Program Assistant

Denise Espinal, Program Assistant

As Program Assistant, Denise provides administrative support to the NYDesigns team by coordinating projects and facilitating office procedures.

Denise is a native Brooklynite and has worked in the nonprofit community in NYC as an Administrative Assistant and Community Relations Specialist for the last ten years. She received her A.A. in Liberal Arts from Borough of Manhattan Community College.

When she is not supporting the team, Denise enjoys spending her time finding furniture deals on Craigslist and watching documentaries.