Bridges in and out of Kendall are what bring our innovations to life — and Diana Navarrete-Rackauckas is one of the talented, driven members of our community leading the charge. Our KSA team caught up with her this week to learn more about how the Foundry will converge arts and technology in an accessible way for everyone. 

In June, we attended the ribbon cutting for Cambridge’s much anticipated Foundry reopening. 

The Foundry is a self-sustaining center for creativity and collaboration for the Cambridge community. At the intersection of the Kendall Square Innovation District and the East Cambridge neighborhood, the Foundry building provides space and programs for the visual and performing arts, entrepreneurship, technology, and workforce education within its historic, industrial setting.

Diana Navarrete-Rackauckas is the Executive Director at the Foundry Consortium. An educator, equity and diversity advocate, and a non-profit leader, Diana is passionate about creating accessible and engaging experiences for local audiences. Before joining the Foundry in June 2021, she worked in museums across the country.

We caught up with her to hear more about the Foundry and the impact this space will have on uniting Cambridge’s creative and innovative minds. 

KSA: How will the Foundry serve as a bridge between the communities in Cambridge? Specifically East Cambridge, Kendall, and the Port?

DIANA:  The Foundry’s mission is to serve people first; specifically, people who have not had the opportunity to engage in arts & STEAM programs due to factors such as oppression, geographic isolation, prohibitive cost, gender exclusion, lack of cultural understanding, and more. We know that the communities mentioned are the experts on what they need, and we are relying on staff, board members, and community partners to navigate us directly to individuals in need of a space like the Foundry as well as programs serving these neighborhoods. Our goal is to use the space to bolster the work of these programs and become a collaborative center where education, creative and performing arts, youth development, and social support programs can come together and create a healthier & more resilient community engaged in creative expression.

KSA: What ways are you engaged (or hope to engage) with Kendall employers?

DIANA: We have various local programs & businesses we are currently – or hoping to – engage with to support programming in the Foundry. We are hoping to have local employers participate in our volunteer/mentorship programs; they will be able to run and support workshops in the Foundry for local residents and youth interested in learning various skills (for example: digital arts and media; creative writing; STEAM careers; etc.) We also hope to be a connection point for local employers who are interested in hosting and participating in events that engage the residents of the community they sit in, and the potential consumers of their goods and services. We hope that Pitch Nights, job fairs, resource shares and more can happen in the space.

KSA: Can you share any details about the programs coming to the Foundry this Fall?

DIANA: The support the Foundry has received has given the building an incredible capacity to host programs across different subjects, and we are so excited for the possibilities this fall. Our membership program will allow individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds to walk in and use our makerspaces for self-directed creation throughout the day with support from staff and local volunteers. We will also host various programs that offer classes anyone can sign up for in our dance studio, performance space, makerspaces, and demonstration kitchen. Our multi-purpose rooms will be reservable for local organizations to meet, tutoring programs, support groups, educational workshops, and more. Finally, our Cafe, Community Hall, outdoor Yard, and Jukebox will always be open spaces members of the public can come by, use the free wifi, grab a snack, get some work done, and hear stories of local cambridge residents.

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