Eric Naslund, FAIA : Principal

Eric Naslund, FAIA


Eric began his architectural career in 1983 after graduating with honors from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo but his fascination with design and building can be traced all the way back to kindergarten where his teacher remarked on his progress report that Eric excels at art and construction toys. His formal education also includes a stint at the Écoles d'Art Américaines in Fontainbleau, France, where he was recognized with a Mention Bien Prize. Being an Air Force brat, Eric has lived all over the country and was born in Madrid, Spain.

When not at Studio E, Eric enjoys spending time with his family and friends, going to the beach, playing golf or riding bikes. His lacrosse playing days long over, Eric still enjoys catching a game when possible.

John Sheehan, AIA : Principal

John Sheehan, AIA


John is a native of the Golden State, born in San Francisco in 1960. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1984 and in 1986 he pursued a Graduate Design Diploma from the Architectural Association in London, England. John worked at various offices in Boston before moving to San Diego in 1989 to join his former Cal Poly classmate Eric Naslund at Studio E Architects.

John has a keen interest in history and travel. His design work seeks to connect people to their surroundings and to make the everyday seem extraordinary. Afterhours, John enjoys sailing, kayaking, good food, laughter and spending time with his wife and three children.

Mathilda Bialk, AIA : Principal

Mathilda Bialk, AIA


Mathilda graduated from NewSchool of Architecture + Design in 2006 with a Master of Architecture degree, and the academic honor Cum Laude. After five years of experience working on various project types and sizes at other local firms, Mathilda joined Studio E Architects in June 2007.

Mathilda was born in San Diego, grew up on the Central Coast of California, and the rolling hills, oak trees and ocean are in her blood. Her vacation time is often spent in Morro Bay and Borrego Springs.

Interests include her family, crochet and yoga. Mathilda has also taught design as an adjunct professor at San Diego State University and volunteered for San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions award ceremonies.

Maxine Ward, AIA : Principal | LEED AP

Maxine Ward, AIA

Principal | LEED AP

Born and raised on a dairy farm in Northern Ireland, Maxine left the farm for the big city to study architecture at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland. In 1994 she was awarded a scholarship to the University of Kansas, beginning her American adventure.

A licensed architect in California and the United Kingdom, Maxine has been practicing architecture in San Diego since 2003, focusing on affordable multi-family housing and public projects including charter schools.  Maxine has been an adjunct faculty member at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design, San Diego, leading a graduate level design studio. She continues to serve as a visiting juror of student work.

She is an active member of the San Diego architectural community, serving since 2008 as a board member of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, where she was President from 2012-2014. She is a two-time chair of the Orchids & Onions design awards program.

In 2015, Maxine was awarded the Young Architect of the Year from AIA San Diego in recognition for her body of work and her commitment to all aspects of the architectural profession.

Charity Dunphy : Associate | Architect

Charity Dunphy

Associate | Architect

Charity grew up on the east coast and received her Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2006 from Virginia Tech.  A few short weeks later she hopped in her car and headed west seeking the warmth of the sun, the pleasant dry climate and spectacular beaches.  She immediately embraced her architecture career in San Diego and created a strong foundation for her professional development.  Her project experiences range from residential to mixed use to educational.

When Charity is not out on a road bike excursion, her free time is spent doing other outdoors activities such as, running, hiking or simply relaxing with a good book on the beach.  She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends while impressing them with her latest creations in the kitchen.

Kirsten Blakeman : Architect | LEED AP BD+C

Kirsten Blakeman

Architect | LEED AP BD+C

Kirsten grew up in San Luis Obispo and graduated Cum Laude from Cal Poly in 2007 with a Bachelors of Architecture degree.  She is a Licensed Architect, LEED Accredited Professional and Safety Assessment Program Evaluator.  With a background in mixed-use and commercial architecture, she has primarily been focused on educational design since moving to San Diego 6 years ago.  She leads the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentoring program at e3 Civic High, volunteers for the San Diego Architecture Foundation and is on the Cal Poly Mentorship Advisory Committee.

Before she decided to "go pro" in architecture, Kirsten was a NCAA Division 1 athlete.  She has since retired to slow-pitch leagues, half marathons and running shelter dogs for the San Diego Humane Society.  Kirsten enjoys traveling and exploring new cities with her husband (also an architect) and appeasing her dog with regular trips to the beach.

Kevin Bussett, AIA : Architect

Kevin Bussett, AIA


Kevin is a third-generation San Diegan and returned home after graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2009. He started out at Studio E in 2007 as a summer intern and re-joined the office in Fall 2016 after working at several local firms and becoming a licensed architect. Kevin is an active board member of the American Institute of Architects San Diego Chapter and takes a keen interest in local current events, housing affordability, and urban planning.

Outside the office, he enjoys walking through the alleys and canyons of San Diego’s craftsman neighborhoods with his wife, wandering hardware stores and local nurseries in a quest to fill out his burgeoning collection of drought-tolerant plants, and hunting for mid-century furniture.

Marcela Gracia Acosta : Architect

Marcela Gracia Acosta


Born in the state of Sonora, in Mexico, Marcela graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona Cum Laude in 2013 and was awarded the Alpha Rho Chi Medal, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia in 2015. After working in Arizona for a few months, Marcela moved to San Diego in the summer of 2015 to join Studio E Architects.
While in school, she was the Director of the AIAS Freedom by Design program, serving the community through design + build projects while working on her thesis.

Having spent most of her life in the Sonoran Desert, she enjoys sunny days and warm weather. When not in the office she enjoys drawing, reading science fiction stories, and cooking new recipes.

Chris grew up in Carlsbad, attended High Tech High North County and went on to Tulane University’s Master of Architecture program, graduating in 2016. During his 2014 summer break, Chris interned at Studio E Architects and found himself very much at home. After spending some time in New Orleans, he returned to California and eventually found his way back down to San Diego, rejoining Studio E in October of 2019.

He’s drawn to the power of architecture to provide enrichment to the public’s daily experience and the ability of well-considered design to answer problems of sustainability, affordability and livability in the built environment.

When not designing buildings, Chris can be found cooking, spending too much money on coffee, tending to his garden or in the gym preparing for his next Powerlifting competition.

Growing up in sunny San Diego, as a child Michelle’s mother was convinced she would run off and join the circus, as she often used her swing set for anything other than it’s intended purpose.  Unfortunately for Michelle the opportunity never presented itself, so in high school she was left to find a new career path.  It was at this point she stumbled upon the world of Architecture.  A career in Architecture would allow her to seamlessly blend her problem-solving skills with her creativity.  After receiving her Bachelors of Architecture and a Minor in Art from Cal Poly SLO, she returned to San Diego.

When not in the Studio (E), Michelle can commonly be found at the Barn.  As an avid Equestrian, she trains, competes and enjoys the unpredictable nature of a life lived with horses.  And in what free time there is left, she enjoys honing her culinary skills (much to the enjoyment of those around her).

Jennifer Mayfield : Architect | LEED AP BD+C

Jennifer Mayfield

Architect | LEED AP BD+C

Growing up between cornfields and cow pastures on the banks of the Mississippi River, Jennifer spent childhood summers and winters traversing the country in the family Chevy Transvan. From these adventures grew her interest in place, culture, nature and the idea of home. Jennifer pursued her architectural education at the University of Kansas and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany and comes to Studio E with a professional background in community rooted design, construction and project experience spanning all scales and types.

Jennifer loves working with clients and communities to solve challenging and critical problems, operating with the firm conviction that the built environment has a great power and responsibility to the earth and future generations, socially, environmentally and economically. She finds extra energy and inspiration outside in nature, exploring on foot with her dogs and on two wheels with her mountain bike - bonus points for nature, particularly dirt, within the City.

Marta Ortega-Navarro :

Marta Ortega-Navarro

Born in Madrid, Spain, Marta received her Bachelor of Architecture in 2015 from NewSchool of Architecture + Design where she received the Merit Scholarship.  After two years working in a local Landscape Architecture firm, she joined the team in June 2017.

Her goal is to reveal inspiration in unlikely places.  By using the power of design, Marta wants to change how people view the world and their role in it. She believes that architecture has an impact on people’s everyday lives and represents what makes humans distinctively unique.

Outside the office, Marta enjoys pretty much anything that involves being outdoors. She loves hiking, travelling, reading and learning new things every day, as well as spending time with her family and friends.

Alina Prassas : Architect

Alina Prassas


Alina grew up in Colorado and earned her Bachelor of Environmental Design from CU Boulder. After a brief time spent as a sustainability coordinator, she then pursued a Master of Architecture at the University of Oregon, Portland, where she focused on resiliency and sustainable urbanism.

After moving to Seattle, she delved into community-based design and hasn’t looked back. Her professional work since then has focused on community facilities and affordable housing, and she is always excited to be able to help bring community-based projects to life.

When not at the office Alina enjoys climbing rocks, reading science fiction, baking sourdough bread, playing with her two crazy dogs, and spending as much time outdoors in sunny San Diego as possible.

Vince Rosato : Associate AIA

Vince Rosato

Associate AIA

Vince, an Ohio native, had an early attachment to architecture through his many hours of Lego building and childhood trips to Europe to visit his family. In 2006, he graduated from Kent State University with a Masters of Architecture. Shortly after graduation, he made his way out to Boston to start his architectural career. He returned back to the Midwest briefly before finally making his way out to San Diego.

Having weathered many winters, he tries to take advantage of all the activities that the Southern California weather allows. He is always looking to explore whether it's driving the California coast, finding the new local food spots or latest coffee roaster.

Following his upbringing in the great state of Maine, Nate moved to Boulder, CO where he earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado.  After graduation, he and a classmate formed an improvised design/ build outfit offering design and construction services aimed specifically at the unfinished basement industry generated by the surplus of tract home communities in the Front Range area.  This continued until deciding to trade the mountains for the ocean in late 2002.  After arriving in San Diego, Nate spent the subsequent years sharpening his skills via professional involvement with the AIA and day-to-day efforts at a small handful of architecture and design firms before landing at Studio E in April of 2016.

Outside of the office, you can find Nate enjoying a night (or weekend) of live music, searching for the next best thing at a variety of San Diego’s craft breweries, plotting out a roadtrip and- as any good New England expat should- devoting requisite attention to the Boston Red Sox.

Maria was born and grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia. She received her first design degree from St. Petersburg State University of Technology and Design. After several years of working in Russia, she moved to Milan, Italy to earn her master’s degree in architecture from Politecnico di Milano. A few years later Maria moved on to San Diego, California, where she earned an additional master’s degree in architecture, from New School of Architecture. After graduating from New School, she immediately started her architecture career in San Diego, focusing on the multi-family residential sector.

In her free time, Maria loves to travel and explore new places with her family. She likes to spend time hiking or simply walking along the beach, or skiing during the winter. She also likes painting with oil and designing various home decorations.

Rafael, a San Diego / Tijuana native had and early interest in architecture through countless hours of sketching, constant Lego building and a dream to travel the world. Having dual citizenship, he decided to start his path on architecture in Monterrey, Mexico. Graduating in 2016 from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and higher education. Shortly after, Rafael decided to move back to sunny San Diego to continue his career. His professional background ranges from single and multi-family housing projects to commercial development and interior design.

His passion is fueled by the fulfillment he finds in seeing his ideas come to life-his imagination becoming a permanent part of a community or environment.

When not at the office, Rafael enjoys summer travelling to Italy, good lattes, large pasta bowls and constantly planning trips to Disneyland.

Miriam Kawy : Office Administrator

Miriam Kawy

Office Administrator

Miriam, a born and raised San Diegan, loves the city's local food scene and proximity to the ocean. She is a recent honors graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, but would say that her days of learning have only just begun.

She has a passion for art and the way that creativity interacts with the stories of individuals. Interested in all things design and architecture related, namely as they impact communities, she finds inspiration daily.

She loves filling her free time with finding new hobbies, going on early-morning runs, and painting. Miriam is thrilled to support the team at Studio E Architects as the Office Administrator.