by Natasha von Kaenel

carla hall bell summer kick off

Carla Hall poses with Crystal, Adrian, and Nate, three students from the Youth Program who have gone on to become Crucible faculty, along with Michael Sturtz, Kristy Higares, Charles R. Olson, and Denise Snaer-Gauder with the bell she made for Carla. 

On Saturday, The Crucible kicked off summer with a party, celebrating some of the new faces walking our halls, and saying goodbye to Carla Hall, our Director of Education, before she moves to Minneapolis and begins the next chapter of her life.

Carla Hall first came to us in 2001, and holds the record for the longest employed person at The Crucible. Crucible staff, faculty, board members, and volunteers spent the evening struggling to express the profound impact Carla’s spirit, art, and dedication have had on this community for the last 16 years. “It’s hard to put it into words exactly,” explained Kristy Higares, our Director of Administration & Strategic Initiatives. “Carla is part of the core culture of The Crucible, beginning with even the architecture of the space and the beautiful forged stairwells and railings she built here.”

Carla Hall moved from North Carolina to the Bay Area after hearing about the work The Crucible was doing. In 2006, she began managing and developing our Youth Program. Since Carla took over, The Crucible has given partial or full scholarships worth over $580,000 to more than 1,600 youth, helping them explore the industrial arts and the power of their own creativity.

Charles R. Olson, President of our Board of Directors, emphasized the tremendously positive impact Carla’s work has had on the next generation of Oakland youth. “Carla has committed so much of her life, energy, intelligence, and spirit to The Crucible. Thousands have come through our youth program, learning to weld, blacksmith, and fabricate under her guidance,” Charles said. “Particularly for teenage girls, who better in the world to be a leader and mentor than Carla Hall?”

For Ismael Plasencia, our Youth Program Associate, Carla’s effect is exponential. “I don’t think we will truly see the real impact until we look back, twenty or thirty years from now, and see the work of young people who came through these programs,” Ismael said. “Once we see the impact they are making in other people’s lives, that’s when we will be able to truly see how valuable she is.”

Michael Sturtz, founder of The Crucible and the one who hired Carla way back in the early 2000’s, hopes that Carla’s exit will empower others to “pick up the torch that Carla has gracefully carried for so long.” But he admits she will be a hard act to follow. “Carla Hall is the most inspiring and dedicated artist, builder, teacher, and facilitator The Crucible has ever seen. Her strong and loving approach, along with her deep knowledge and passion for creating, has greatly elevated The Crucible and all of us for almost 17 years.”

Most of all, Kristy, Ismael, Charles, Michael, and the rest of the Crucible community wish Carla the best on her next chapter. “I hope she knows how profoundly she has impacted the lives of her colleagues, her students, the Youth Program, and our neighbors,” Kristy said. “She will be missed beyond words, and we thank her for producing a new generation of fine and industrial artists from kids in our neighborhood.”

Check out some pictures from the event:

carla hall

Crucible community members line up for some delicious pizza made on-site in our Crucible pizza oven by our multi-talented CFO, Renée Ventimiglia. 

Carla Hall speaks with Ismael Plasencia, who says she is his inspiration and the reason he stayed on as the Youth Program Associate for the last decade.

Carla Hall speaks with Ismael Plasencia, who says she is his inspiration and the reason he stayed on as the Youth Program Associate for the last decade.


Crucible founder, Michael Sturtz giving Carla Hall a bronze cast piece from his Hot Couture 2017 finale, Origin of Love–watch the bronze pour that created this piece.


Denise Snaer-Gauder, Carla Hall, Denise Janet Hiebert, and Cathy Brown pose with the bell Denise made as a parting gift to Carla.

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