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Dad Life: Will Holman

Lives: Baltimore
Family: Spouse, Amanda; Daughter, Annie, 18 months
Occupation: Executive Director, Open Works

Tell us about your work and how you got in this field.

I am the executive director at Open Works, a nonprofit makerspace in central Baltimore. We work a lot like a YMCA, but instead of gym equipment, we have a full woodshop, metal shop, digital fabrication tools, 3D printers, sewing machines and a computer lab. You can access all of these tools as a member or take a class in how to use them. We also have programs for kids, teens, seniors and support systems for entrepreneurs and small businesses. I got into this field in a circuitous way. Makerspaces are a pretty new phenomenon, so there’s no prescribed path for folks to work at one. I studied architecture in college and worked as a carpenter, furniture maker, educator, artist assistant, author and designer all over the country before coming back to Baltimore six years ago to start working on this project. I also wrote a book called “Guerilla Furniture Design” that presents more than 30 DIY furniture projects that I created over those nomadic years as a maker.

Do you have mentor or role model?

My father, John Holman, has been an amazing role model on how to be a husband, a father and a businessman and how to conduct oneself with integrity in business. I’m also grateful to all of the Open Works board members, who have spent a lot of time mentoring me on finances, fundraising, management and community-building.

What advice can you give working parents?

Lean on your village! We all have a circle of folks in our lives — family, friends, colleagues, neighbors — and they rise to meet you when you need them. My wife, Amanda, and I have felt so much love and support since we had our daughter, Annie, 18 months ago, with people volunteering to babysit, passing on hand-me-downs or just giving us tips and tricks.

What is the best advice another parent gave you?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. That’s kind of a cliché, but it’s true — kids are going to get colds and bumps and bruises and miss naps sometimes. It’s just a fact of life, and it doesn’t mean they’re going to lose IQ points or something. Focus on instilling your values and providing an environment with an abundance of love.

How do you manage your career and your family life?

It’s hard to strike a balance. A lot of folks are depending on me all the time, and running a space like this means I am on call on nights and weekends. But there’s also a lot of opportunities to bring my family into my work. For instance, every Wednesday morning we host Mother Goose on the Loose story time in one of our classrooms. I’m excited for when Annie’s a little older and we can do some of our youth classes with her.

How do you de-stress? What are your hobbies?

I do most of our family cooking. It’s great to come home from a long day and spend some time making a good meal for my family and then enjoying it together. I am also (slowly) renovating the basement in our 100-year-old rowhome to make a playroom for Annie, so it’s nice to stay engaged working with my hands on that project.

What’s next for you?

Making Open Works the best makerspace in the world! We are really working to be a model for what a diverse, collaborative, beautiful community space can be. Come see us sometime — or 1400 Greenmount Ave.

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