Barton Kunstler, Ph.D. (2009-Present)
Education Administrator

Barton Kunstler, Ph.D. joined Chess Corps as Education Administrator in 2009, bringing a wealth of experience in education, creativity and curriculum development to enhance and expand the creative curriculum that has been developed for the Chess Studio in the Village learning laboratory. Dr. Kunstler earned a Ph.D. in Classics from Boston University and prior to that earned an undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

For many years, Dr. Kunstler enjoyed a career in academia as full professor and program director at the Lesley University School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He later served as Director of the Graduate Program in Management Communications at Emerson College in Boston. While in academia, Dr. Kunstler developed and taught courses on a wide variety of topics including Education, Environmental Ethics, Creative Writing, Drawing, Perception and Problem Solving, and Mythology of Ancient Greece, among many others.

Dr. Kunstler is author of The Hothouse Effect: Intensify Creativity in Your Organization Using Secrets from History's Most Innovative Communities, published by the American Management Association. The book addresses the development of high-performing groups driven by creative interactions at all levels of organizational complexity. Dr. Kunstler has published journal articles and book chapters on communication, eCommerce, ancient myth and history, creativity, national intelligence issues, and education, and presented on these topics at numerous conferences. His poetry has been published in several leading journals, and he has been featured on several television shows and written a regular column (1999-2002, 2004) about future-oriented issues for The Metrowest Daily News

In addition to his work at Chess Corps, Dr. Kunstler periodically contributes to The Huffington Post and has been involved in the development of IST Energy, marketing a waste-to-energy conversion system to government and military clients.

Jeff Penta (2009-Present)
Chess Instructor

Jeff Penta joined Chess Corps in 2009 as Chess Instructor for the Chess Studio in the Village Program. Mr. Penta studied Industrial Design as an undergraduate at Wentworth Institute of Technology and earned a certificate in Phlebotomy and EKG from Quinsigamond Community College.

Mr. Penta has defeated and drawn a number of well-known local chess masters and achieved a Master level rating of 2300 during his tournament playing years. In addition to his achievements as a chess player, Mr. Penta has had many years of experience as a chess instructor, providing private instruction to both children and adults, including those with special needs. He has also provided chess instruction to children in after-school programs through the Newton Public Schools and Westboro Montessori School. Instruction covered all aspects of the game from basic introduction to tournament preparation and training in critical thinking.  

Jeff’s interests outside of chess include computers, health and nutrition, marine biology, reading, art, botany and floral design, and scuba diving.


Chao "Henry" Zheng (2009-Present)

      Henry Zheng joined Chess Corps in 2009 as a volunteer for the Chess Studio in the Village program and has grown to become an invaluable member of the Chess Corps team. In addition to his responsibilities for tutoring students in chess and the arts, Henry has been instrumental in establishing and managing Chess Corps’ multimedia learning laboratory.

He brings a wealth of experience in the computer-based gaming domains as well as in hardware/software educational interfaces.

Fluent in three dialects of Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese), Henry studied at East China Normal University in Shanghai and is currently an undergraduate at Boston University studying Biochemistry. As a private math tutor of junior high students in Shanghai, Henry gained experience working in a tutoring and mentoring role with adolescents.

Outside of chess, Henry enjoys painting, calligraphy, Chinese chess, reading classical literature and philosophy, and photography. Other interests include computer programming, card games, martial arts, basketball, soccer, swimming, golf, badminton, tennis and table tennis.

Henry’s interests in undertaking new challenges and exploring new learning environments are what led him to volunteer with Chess Corps. He believes that Chess Corps offers a unique environment in which students learn how to develop their potential, appreciate life, overcome challenges, and realize one’s path to success through chess.


David Mai (2009-Present)

David Mai joined Chess Corps in 2009 as a volunteer for the Chess Studio in the Village program. In this capacity, David is primarily responsible for tutoring students in chess and providing technical assistance to faculty and senior staff with the use of Chess Corps’ multimedia tools.

Fluent in Mandarin and conversational German, David is currently an undergraduate at Boston College majoring in Accounting and Information Systems and is also a member of the Boston College intramural tennis program. As a private tennis coach in Concord, CA, David gained experience working in a coaching role with adolescents.

His commitment to volunteerism is reflected in the various volunteer roles that he has undertaken over the years. In addition to volunteering with Chess Corps, David has also served as a volunteer with Kaiser Permanente in the Palliative Care program focused on addressing the spiritual needs of terminally ill patients.

Yujian "James" Luo (2009-Present)

      Yujian (“James”) Luo joined Chess Corps in 2009 as a volunteer for the Chess Studio in the Village program. In this capacity, James is primarily responsible for tutoring students in chess and providing technical assistance to faculty and senior staff with the use of Chess Corps’ multimedia tools. James is currently an undergraduate in the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University and an active member of the Northeastern University Chess Club.

In addition to playing international chess, James has played Chinese Chess for well over four years. Fluent in Cantonese and hailing from the Guangdong province of the People’s Republic of China, James’ knowledge of and interest in Chinese culture enriches the increasingly culturally diverse Chess Corps community. His impressive list of academic honors and achievements includes a prize of Academic Excellence from the Guangdong Guangya High School and third prize in a Room Design Competition from the Guangdong Guangya High School.

Outside of chess, James’ interests include skiing, tennis, traveling, reading, basketball, football, bowling, badminton, physics, history, and classical music. He also enjoys a number of computer strategy games including Warcraft 3.


Nicolas Pena (2010-Present)

Nicolas Pena joined Chess Corps in 2010 as a volunteer at our Wednesday afternoon advanced learning sessions. He is primarily responsible for mentoring students in chess and for assisting them with the use of computer-based brain games through which they learn chess tactics and problem-solving skills.

A graduate of Columbia University, where he studied Psychology and Economics, Nicolas currently works in the field of finance as a Credit Research Analyst.

Although he spends his days researching economic trends, making investment and trading recommendations, and constructing and analyzing financial models, Nicolas has also devoted much of his free time to exploring his interest in chess.


For the past several years, Nicolas has been a student in the Marshall Chess Club in New York City, where he learned strategies and fundamentals from FIDE Master, Asa Hoffman, and participated in weekly tournaments. He has also served for many years as a tutor, mentor and associate board member with the Chess in the Schools program in New York City. In this role, he participated in weekly one-on-one tutoring programs to help inner-city high school students with the college application process and worked closely with gifted chess players, helping them with school selection, essays and applications.


Nicolas’ interests outside of chess include photography and running. He completed the New York City Marathon in November 2009. He has also focused on learning about underrepresented cultures and people through the medium of photography, photographing in various countries including Tanzania, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, and Costa Rica. He is the winner of an international photography contest associated with the World Bank’s Microfinance Photography Exhibit. 


Nicolas has also been recognized for his commitment to volunteerism and community service through various honors, including The President’s Student Service Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2001.