Our Team

Steve Heath, Executive Director

Steve Heath is the founder and executive director of FabNewport. He has 25 years experience creating student-centered learning environments in public and private schools in Boston, Chicago and Rhode Island. He’s an experienced journalist, community activist and a skilled connector with a passion for nurturing ideas.  Steve is certified League of American Bicyclists instructor, an accomplished athlete and coach. He is involved in several community efforts—Health Equity Zone, Working Cities, One Newport–improve outcomes for all Rhode Islanders. 


Jeff Elsbecker, Maker Sensei

Jeff received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design where he studied metal smithing and sculpture. After graduation he worked for five years in the design department if the Gorham Silver Company. A native of Iowa, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in metalwork, sculpture, ceramics, and fibers from the University of Northern Iowa. Now pursuing a lifelong interest in teaching, Jeff focuses his limited studio time on fine art sculpture. His work has been shown at galleries around the region. Jeff brings broad experiences in product design, manufacturing, the arts, and marketing to his deep passion for helping young people discover and nourish their gifts. At FabNewport we call him Maker Sensei. Coupling time-honored apprenticeship leadership methods with digital-age and traditional making skills he is teaches two sections of 3D Modeling and Digital Manufacturing.

Josie Michaud, Director of Instructional Design

Josie. former teacher of the year in the Fall River public schools, plays a key role in shaping the direction of our community based learning.  She helps to manage, develop, and instruct local programs such as the Wearables After School Program and in-school STEAM programs at AllSaints Academy. She completed the URI AP CS professional development training and is presently teaching computer science at Providence Technical High School. Concurrently she is working to develop a universal badging and apprenticeship system that will help educators and students alike assess progression and completion of the many disciplines taught at FabNewport.

Seiji Abe, Tech Integration and C.S.

Seiji Abe graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a B.A. in Computer Science (2017). He also has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He blends his knowledge of the Social Sciences, STEAM, and Computer Science to make technology more accessible to peoples of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds regardless of socioeconomic background.

Chris Gross, Chief Empathy Officer

Chris earned a B.S. in Education, followed by a Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut. Following his 2013 matriculation, Chris worked as an advisor at the East Bay Met School, an Innovative CTE High School . There, Chris guided his advisory of 16 M students; creating individualized curriculums — including Internships. Chris joined FabNewport in 2017, after graduating his advisory. Currently, Chris is a C.S. Instructor/Mentor, teaching three sections of our URI CS 101/106 Class along with fellow Instructors Josie & Seiji. Chris is an animal lover, who raises & trains Service/ Emotional Assistance Dogs for people in need. His personal service dog, “Nollie” can often be seen in class with him, helping to sooth the stress of learning complex Computer Science algorithms.

Abigail Bianchi, Community Specialist

Abigail, a Newport native, graduated from Salve Regina University with a BA in Liberal Arts, focusing on psychology and studio art. She attended the first Newport MET school – the same space that FabNewport is currently located. Since 2010, she has worked in the surrounding areas and throughout Rhode Island to promote creative, sustainable, and accessible learning environments. At FabNewport, Abigail runs after school programs, such as Future Lab, Wearables, and Family Friendly Fridays. She also runs an adult training program to help community members develop their skills in various technologies and programs in the lab.

Francesca Del Prete, Community Coach

Francesca is a multimedia artist and designer.  She received a B.A. in Studio Arts from Salve Regina University in 2016.  Francesca was introduced to FabNewport through participating in our Community Outreach program.  During training, she developed skills related to her previous studies in 2-D and 3-D design.  Following the completion of the program, she became the co-teacher for multiple FabNewport programs such as the Future Lab, Open Lab, and Family Friendly Fridays.  At FabNewport, Francesca hopes to connect members of the community & inspire members to express themselves through the process of MAKING.