Jim Whalen | Principal [email protected]
- 25 years in the contract interiors industry
- Primary focus on FF&E consulting and products to learning environment facilities
- Extensive experience with private schools
- Speaker at various industry seminars including Harvard University for Library FF&E procurement
- Graduate of William Paterson University
- Resides with his family in New Jersey
- Husband & father of three beautiful girls
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“When we amplify the best within us, we can achieve something miraculous…Success and fulfillment come from your unflagging ability to believe in what other people call impossible.”—Brendon Burchard
James “Jim” Whalen has a passion for doing things right the first time and a desire to bring out the best in others. Growing up in the Jackson Heights section of Queens in New York City, Jim learned at an early age how important it was to be a self-starter, shrug off naysayers and take advantage of every opportunity along the way. He recalls regularly going to a diner in Astoria with his grandfather and frequenting Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, all the while picking up advice and learning lessons. He worked his way through college as a student at William Patterson University before graduating in 1983 and diving into business to learn everything he could.
Now with more than 25 years in the contract interiors industry and a stack of business cards that grows higher every day, Jim approaches every building project with the same ambition, ingenuity and commitment each time, whether he’s working in a small private school or the Red Bull Soccer Arena. And he takes pride in everything he does, from creating sanctuaries and renovating theaters to building STEM labs and constructing libraries.
Having worked with many schools during his career in the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) procurement industry, Jim has perfected his ability to pinpoint exactly what his clients need and what they are envisioning as they approach the project. He has effectively transferred that keen ability to every other project, no matter the sector, and has become a master at problem-solving as he transforms spaces.
Working closely with each vendor from architect to interior designer to carpenter, Jim makes sure to keep his client as the primary focus and effectively puts each client’s mind at ease with his confidence, extensive knowledge of the industry and willingness to do his best.
He lives in Colts Neck with his wife, Barbara, and their three daughters. He also has a passion for holistic nutrition and overall healthy living.
Jay Berez | Principal [email protected]
- 33 years in the contract interiors industry
- Primary focus on providing FF&E consulting services products to the corporate interiors environment.
- Extensive project experience on all levels of distribution and manufacturing within the contract furniture industry.
- Graduate of Virginia Tech, Bachelor’s and Masters Degree in Architecture
- Resides with his family in New Jersey.
Giana Castelli | Interior Designer
- Interior Designer
- Primary focus on FF&E sourcing and interior details and design
- Experience in hospitality, corporate, educational, and residential interiors industry
- Experience in adaptive reuse, LEED certified, WELL Building Standards, and other sustainable building practices
- Graduate of Philadelphia University
- Applies holistic and natural human behavior factors into interiors projects to ensure an intuitive experience for all users
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Giana Castelli brings out the innate energy in everything to give it meaning. With the belief that everything she does has a purpose, Giana approaches interior design with the intention that it’s not only supposed to look pretty and function effectively, but that it should also evoke emotion—whether from the feel of the fabric chosen, a piece of furniture that provides comfortable seating or the custom-built shelving systems that organize a space.
“Designing a blank space that makes people feel something – now that’s the challenge,” says Giana. “Many people cover up a boring, ordinary space with “make up” and “nice clothing” just like people do with their personalities. This empty space should still be able to make you feel something.”
A graduate of Philadelphia University, Giana is an interior designer with vast interests in hospitality and education design, restoration, adaptive reuse and sustainability (both LEED and WELL Building Standards). As part of her coursework, she gained functional and technical knowledge in human behavior, sustainable design, construction detailing, color, materials, lighting, acoustics, building systems and regulations, as well as furniture, finishes and fabrics.
As an undergraduate student, Giana was a national and regional finalist in the Interior Design Educator’s Council’s 2016-2017 Design Competition.
Prior to joining the WBG, Giana worked for Interior Motives Corp., SMB Studio Arts, Meyer Design and Morrissey Design LLC where she gained experience in FF&E throughout all design phases. She is proficient in AutoCAD, Autodesk 3ds Max, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Google SketchUp, Rhino, Revit, and both hand and digital rendering.
As a big believer of metaphysical and holistic methods of life, Giana applies this philosophy in her designs to create healthy environments for her clients. She is also nimble in how she approaches every project, realizing that there are many possible avenues to take to achieve the desired results.
“In design, there is not only one answer… there are thousands.”
Barbara Whalen | Chief Financial Officer
- 10 years in the contract interiors industry
- Background in finance
- Projects financial data and backup project management support
- Bachelor’s Degree from Caldwell College in Business Administration and a minor in Finance
- Registered Nurse
James Theimer | A.I.A
- 30 years experience in a broad range of architecture and urban design projects
- No emphasis on any single building type
- Promotes and enjoys the challenges of generalist architecture
- Projects include: sustainable technology buildings, schools, affordable housing, adaptive historic structures, water features, and urban parks and streetscapes
- Received multiple awards and recognitions
- 2012 design excellence award from the American Institute of Architects
Alisa Levy | VP of Business Development, Educational Practice
- Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stern College and a master’s in public administration from New York University
- Years working in the non profit sector most notably at Hunter College in Institutional Advancement.
- Devotes her time to her family & community volunteer projects, including the recent expansion projects at two local day schools
Liz Gray | Director of Library Design & Programing
- 37 years of experience as an English teacher and a librarian in independent schools
- 22 years Library Director at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA.
- Director of libraries at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School in Waltham, MA and St. Stephen’s School in Rome, Italy
- English teacher at The American School in Switzerland and TASIS England
- Experience working in a large public libraries, small academic art library, and in a bookstore chain’s warehouse.
- Since 2002, independent schools consultant on library space planning, program, staff evaluation
- Presented at numerous professional development seminars for teachers and librarians including seven summers at the Taft Educational Center
- Bachelor’s degree in English from Reed College
- Master’s in English Education from Tufts University
- Master’s in library and information science from Simmons College
Kelly Whalen | Chief Operating Officer
- Kelly Whalen has over 6 years of experience as a Director of Operations for one of the largest advertising firms, JCDecaux.
- Kelly has a background in overseeing several departments and managing a team of direct reports.
- Her experience and abilities are employed through promoting organization and improving efficiency to the WBG as needed.
- She is also responsible for project management support and tracking, overseeing the day to day administrative duties and operational functions of the WBG.