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About The Speaker

Paul Birtel

Paul Birtel spent most of his life as a video game nerd north of the wall in snowy Rochester, New York. His life’s quest is to help people and to get a highscore in making people happy, so naturally he pursued a master's degree in recreation services management and additionally received a graduate certificate in nonprofit administration. Paul started his quest with the YMCA but over the years he took on bigger and bigger challenges. He sought to expand his comfort zone so he took on YMCA locations in struggling neighborhoods, a historic children’s museum, and even ran a seasonal ice skating rink in front of city hall in Philadelphia. In a way, his life is like a video game; trying to level up his character skills and taking on new challenges in new settings. When Paul isn’t grinding professional levels, he is spending the majority of his free time playing video games, attending music festivals, and watching anime. Paul’s favorite festival was MAGFest and he fell in love with the community and atmosphere that made him feel like was finally with his people. After three years as a regular attendee his friend (who first introduced him to MAGFest) shared with him that they were hiring. After discovering MAGFest was a nonprofit, he came to the realization that his job could combine his life’s mission, passion, and drive to work towards growing and sharing a community that he had fallen in love with. Paul was beyond honored to get the job as the Executive Director; he moved to Baltimore but a new enemy appeared! On his first day on the job, he had to come to terms with the state mandated quarantine due to COVID-19 which caused the closure of the main office location...and then he found out his wife is pregnant with their first child! Looks like this game's difficulty just got increased. (Favorite Animes: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing).