BROOKFIELD, Conn. — Howard Lasser has had offices high up in a Manhattan skyscraper and in the back of a warehouse. But these days, you can find Lasser in a quaint office with old wood floors and exposed wood beams above the shop in the Brookfield Craft Center.
The enviable setting, though, doesn’t mean as much to Lasser as the purpose of his work.
“The office isn’t as important as what you’re doing,” he told the Daily Voice as he took a break from his spreadsheets and budgets.
Lasser, who served as a chief financial officer before he retired in 2013, is executive director at the Brookfield Craft Center.
A 34-year resident of Brookfield, Lasser first became involved in the center as a customer in the shop. But when it fell on hard times, officials approached him and asked whether he wanted to be a treasurer.
Lasser ended up taking the helm as the executive director. He had his eyes on getting the center on a sustainable business model, but he didn’t know whether it was possible.
“I wasn’t certain that we could make this work,” he said. “It was a challenge and people warned me, saying, ‘It’s not easy.’ But I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge.”
It appears the center has been turning in the right direction, he said.
“I think we’ve demonstrated that with this last year and the accomplishments that we’ve made,” he said.
Not simply a numbers guy, Lasser studied history in college and has a deep appreciation for the past.
“I’m a big believer in learning, preserving and understanding history,” he said.
Lasser said he hopes to renovate and expand portions of the center while retaining its historical character. Of many possible projects, he hopes to renovate the house where visiting artists used to stay. He also wants to foster an artistic community and be able to bring in artists from around the country to teach classes.
“We would love to have great teachers from all over,” he said.
Lasser also hopes to engage a younger generation from artists. He wants to give them a chance to use their hands — and take a break from their digital devices.
He has his eyes on the forge, too, which sits atop a small hill overlooking the rest of the buildings in the center.
A plaque outside the building calls it “The Good Forge.” But it can be even better: Lasser wants to double its size so more people can enjoy the experience.
“When we expand it, we’ll call it, ‘The Gooder Forge,’” he wryly remarked.