ERA’s goal is simple: To help owners achieve their objectives by providing consultation and to provide honest escape room reviews for our online community and social media followers.
ERA is an organization of escape room specialists who provide reviews and/or consultation upon request. Our clients may be company owners, designers, and/or supervising staff. Our mission is two-fold:
- First, to help owners achieve their objectives by providing consultation. We are dedicated to the task of helping owners increase the satisfaction levels of both their customers, and to maintaining or exceeding industry standards.
- Second, to provide the online community and our social media followers with honest reviews without compromise. Although there is always risk of subjectivity with a review, our teams strive for the highest levels of insight, objectivity, and evidence-based observation as we apply our experience & knowledge of escape rooms and the industry to each review.
Over the years, ERA has expanded from a group of Toronto-based enthusiasts to a collection of six review teams located across North America. Below you will find the current members of each ERA team, as well as those who have contributed in the past.
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Kansas City
Matt Silver is an organizational alignment & teams specialist at MattSilver.ca. His enthusiasm for board games & team sports is only rivaled by his passion for escape rooms. Having explored many different escape rooms in the GTA, Matt’s personal and professional evaluation is an asset when considering where to book your future escape room experience.
Jeremie Wood is a software developer by day and board game and escape room enthusiast by night. Ever since playing the original Myst, he has had an interest in puzzles of all kinds. He likes nothing better than wrapping his head around a new brain teaser and putting his skills to the test in the latest escape room!
Kyle Bruce spends his days facilitating community programs for all ages, and spends his free time playing dodgeball, shooting arrows, and escaping from rooms (of course!). He loves to introduce people to the innovative and exciting world of escape rooms, and has a history of attempting rooms with less people than the suggested minimum. Armed to the teeth with frivolous facts, as well as a propensity for puzzles, Kyle is always ready to step into the unknown.
Renée Pu is a mechanical engineering student that delights in tinkering with gears, springs, and robots. She loves board games (a die-hard fan of Dead of Winter), escape rooms, comic books, and video games. When she’s not indulging in her nerdier hobbies, Renée loves sketching, watching comedies, and spending money on food. If it’s on the menu, she will order Eggs Benedict every single time. She is also learning to live the life of a minimalist; a decision that may or may not be influenced by her student budget. She aspires to be as artistic, athletic, and hilarious as Terry Crews.
James Ishiguro is a high school physics teacher who loves logic puzzles, math, and sharing his interest of escape rooms with his friends, colleagues and students. Outside of escape rooms, he enjoys playing softball and his new-found hobby of rock climbing, a sport that he sees as a series of physical puzzles that require a lot more thinking than he expected. He also loves movies of every genre, often finding himself trapped in a theatre escaping the real world.
Janine Holmes is one of Toronto’s top makeup and hair artists. She has powdered down the noses of some pretty high profile celebrities like Lady Gaga, Adam Levine, and Elisha Cuthbert to name a few. Janine also manages a team of talented makeup and hair artists for her mobile beauty company I Do! Beauty Co (idobeautyco.com). Since Janine was younger she has always had a huge passion for games and puzzles. She was even a Tetris video game champion when she was just 11 years old. So naturally escape rooms are her favourite weekend activity to do with friends and family. Aside from escape rooms, Janine loves binge watching the latest Netflix show with her husband and having kitchen dance parties with her two kids.
Avis Petersen is an original point-and-click master turned escape room artist. When she’s not practicing her puzzle skills, she’s managing projects for an engineering company or doing yoga in her living room. An avid traveler, she has spent most of her vacations backpacking around warm places. She has been on top of Kilimanjaro, explored the beaches of Thailand, and a few places in between. New to Toronto, she is looking forward to the next great adventure.
As a child, Ryan Edwards was fascinated by magic. His desire to dissect and learn each new trick, slowly turned into obsession as he grew older. After years of training and perfecting his craft, Ryan was set to become a performer… Fast forward several years and now he’s one of the most sought after mentalists in the world!
Shawn McInnis‘s days are spent working in the social service sector assisting individuals with developmental disabilities to find volunteer opportunities within the community. He spends his free time doing escape rooms, watching and playing hockey (Go Sabres), golfing, playing board games and, most importantly, spending time with his friends and family. If there is one activity that rivals his love for escape rooms, it’s snuggling up on the couch with his dog (Hi Zoey) and watching a good horror flick.
ERA Los Angeles
Rochelle Perry grew up a nerd, playing games of all kinds – board games, video games, and a variety of physical games (or what we know as sports.) She works in the animation industry in Los Angeles, loves comic books and role-playing games, and loves storytelling and puzzles. She belongs to a theatre group where she is a producer, playwright, graphics artist, and photographer. After escaping her first room in February of 2015, she has been addicted to them! She joined ERA to meet like-minded “addicts” who can join her on her quest to escape them all. She is interested in creating her own room(s) because she wants to be able to blend story with art and create a fun, challenging, and immersive experience for each guest! She makes her own kombucha, jewelry, and other crafts, and also enjoys yoga, hiking, and party planning.
Beverly (Bev) Banez currently works full time in the Quality department for a medical device company in Orange County. When not solving escape room puzzles, she’s studying for her Master’s or solving puzzles/troubleshooting at work. Bev loves the team building and mental challenges that escape rooms provide and always manages to fit a room escape every month or so with friends that are new to room escapes. Her other passions include traveling, trying new foods and snowboarding. Bev’s dream would be a food themed escape room in a foreign country with a snowboarding trip right after…
Justin Rose works as a Video Editor in Los Angeles, and just like an alchemist, he creates something out of nothing. He enjoys all things nerdy from Graphic Novels, to Anime, to RPG’s. From an early age Justin obsessed over Mensa puzzle books and Indie games, never afraid to ask the difficult questions at school to unlock the mysteries of the Universe. During a friend’s birthday party he experienced his first Escape Room and the stars aligned to offer a place, nay a home, for like-minded people.
Iana Kushchenko is an animator in Los Angeles. She loves the ‘art’ of puzzle solving, and tried her first room escape in 2015. Since then, she has became an addict. The real life experience cannot be replaced by the computer world, which is what she loves about room escapes. They are real, entertaining, and challenging at times, which is very much a reason why she travels a lot and has visited 41 countries so far. She hopes to surpass that number with room escapes.
Zack Garber is a computer science major who works for a software company in Los Angeles. Though an avid fan of all games electronic he likes to play and teach board games in his off time. After discovering Escape rooms and ERA through his friends he’s come to enjoy the thrill of solving puzzles as the clock ticks down, scrambling for clues and putting your logic to the test. Years of thinking like a computer give him the analytical skills he uses to overcome the challenging escape rooms he’s come to love.
ERA New York
Liz Minei is a College Professor who teaches Group Communication and takes her class to Escape Rooms instead of making them take a final exam. A true enthusiast, when she is not playing a room, she creates Escape Games for family and friends. She waves her nerd flag proudly–she loves to travel, enjoys reading, and never passes up on karaoke.
Karen Schrier is an educator, innovator, and creative researcher who is always looking for collaborators and new connections. She is an Associate Professor at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and Director of the Games and Emerging Media program. She also runs the Play Innovation Lab, where she researches and creates games that support learning, ethical reflection, and compassion. Her recent book, Knowledge Games, was published last year (Johns Hopkins University Press), and was covered by Forbes, New Scientist, Times Higher Education, and SiriusXM. When not playing games, she likes to go to craft fairs, explore cities and towns, daydream, and spend time with her family.
Junot Foradada is managing director of accounting for an asset manager in NYC. When he’s not busy with work or escape rooms throughout the city, he’s planning escape room holidays in Europe. A friend turned him on to the world of escape rooms while traveling through Spain and Portugal, and he was hooked instantly! He enjoys traveling, broadway shows, and going out in his NYC neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen for cocktails with friends.
ERA Kansas City
Dave Martin fell into escape rooms accidentally and then couldn’t stop – forcing himself into a ration system so he wouldn’t empty his bank account and run out of area rooms in one intense weekend. By day, he is a financial advisor. When not voluntarily getting locked into a room, he also spends time doing theatre and improv comedy or firing up a night of board games.
Valerie Martin had a childhood filled with logic problems, board games, jigsaw puzzles, Games Magazine, and murder mystery novels, so she comes by her love of Escape Rooms naturally. Once a month for several years, she and her friends have been slowly checking off every room in the KC area. Working a 9-5 desk job allows her to explore her passion for theatre, and she works consistently as a choreographer and dance teacher.
Jessica Franz never thought she’d be into “escape rooms” so it’s as much a surprise to her that she is now hooked, line and sinker. She works at a financial advising firm during the day, and does as much theatre as she is legally allowed to in the evenings. She enjoys life to the fullest with her four cats and also escape-room-obsessed boyfriend.
Meghann Bates is beyond excited to join the ERA team here in Kansas City. From her first experience of being trapped in a room with a zombie, she has been addicted to the puzzle-solving fun of escape rooms. Luckily, she became close friends with others who were also addicted and, thus, a monthly tradition was born. When not escaping, she enjoys performing on stage, playing any and all types of games, cuddling adorable animals, and watching her Royals at the K.
Michael Juncker has been infatuated with escape rooms since his first failed attempt three years ago. Since then, he has reveled in breaking records, flaunting his problem solving strengths and downplaying his many weaknesses. By day, Michael is a Performance Manager with CBRE on the Sprint Account. He spends his free time with his family, game nights with friends, and acting in shows around Kansas City.
Dan Heinz grew up as a video/computer gamer and athlete, enjoying a wide variety of competitions and challenges. Those experiences in problem-solving and collaboration led him to theatre, where teamwork in action is essential. Theatre led him to friends who love escape rooms, and the fun of banding together to achieve success made Dan love escaping as well. Dan is an attorney in the northeast Kansas area as well as an actor and director at area theatres.
Dan Kaplan is the former coordinator for ERA New York before moving to Colorado in mid-2017. Dan is the creative director for an online grocery coupon website and also the co-founder of a craft beef jerky company. A former chef, woodworker and wine label designer with experience in engineering and math, he brings both sides of his brain into the escape room. Dan has done a lot of traveling across six continents and he hopes to pass on that traveling spirit to his new twin sons.
Ashley Geisel is currently a second year MBA candidate pursuing a concentration in Business Analytics to build upon her healthcare background. Ashley’s love of travel has led her from the mountains of Montenegro to the cobblestone streets of Casco Viejo, Panama, and to many escape rooms in between. She loves puzzles of all kinds as a way to unwind.
Matt LeBauer is a psychotherapist in private practice in Denver. He helps clients deconstruct the overwhelming puzzles in their minds and plot healthy, effective paths through their distress to healing and resolution. His clinical skills prove useful in escape rooms to foster effective communication of details and to keep the well-oiled team humming along in collaboration. Outside the therapy room and the escape room, Matt loves coloring, meditating at the botanic gardens, educating white people out of their complacency into racial & social justice activism, and undermining the patriarchy.
Noah Geisel has proudly been teaching Spanish, English and Technology for 15 years. An addict of sharing, collaborating and discovering with others, he is a constant on Twitter (@SenorG) and the blogosphere. Other than his wife saying “yes” when he proposed, the most amazing thing to ever happen to him was being recognized in 2013 as the National Language Teacher of the Year. He is a traveler, learner and hardcore fan of Escape Rooms. His tombstone will read: Was never above asking for hints.
Katie Duncan is a Learning and Development professional who loves to keep busy. The drive for adventure has led her and her husband (and 2 dogs and a cat) to live in 3 different states in the last few years. This former restaurant manager loves to binge watch TV shows, travel (wants to travel to all 50 states), and plan her next vacation. Her love for Escape Rooms started in 2015 and there’s no turning back now!
Lisa Krych is a culinary assistant for a celebrity chef in Chicago. She has a very high pressure job, where she problem solves on a daily basis. When she isn’t putting out fires in the kitchen (sometimes literally) she enjoys being locked up in an escape room. When she isn’t escaping rooms she is playing board games, going to the Renaissance Faires or crafting pretty much anything. “Part of the thrill of being in an escape room for me, is FINALLY figuring out a puzzle that others may have overlooked.”
J Cangialosi is a therapist. While her job is more relaxed, room escapes help her to exercise a different side of her brain. She is a very logical and analytical thinker who loves to find hidden meanings in things (hence her job). By nature, she is an introvert but room escapes help bring her out of her shell. In her free time, she loves reading mystery novels, working on logic puzzles, playing games and fixing bikes.
Nicole Menolascino is a school psychologist at a high school in the northern suburbs of Chicago. She considers herself to be a lifelong learner and currently owns two graduate degrees. In her free time, Nicole loves to play various board games, puzzle games, and role-playing games with her family and friends. In addition, Nicole has a kitten that she loves to spend time with. Nicole and Justin met J and Lisa while in their first escape room and were instantly hooked! In only a few months they had been to over 50 escape rooms. Joining ERA allows Nicole to use her passion for writing and constructive feedback to educate escapers and help companies to grow and thrive.
Justin Sponholz is a technology specialist at one of the largest high schools in the United States, problem solving any technological issue that arises throughout the school. On top of a passion for technology, he also holds Flight Instructor and Commercial pilot licenses and pilots small aircrafts as a hobby. Justin frequently plays board, role-playing, and puzzle games and recently got into escape rooms. After he played his first room with Nicole, J, and Lisa, he and the team set off doing as many escape rooms as possible. Joining ERA helps him give back to the escape room community by providing constructive feedback and earned publicity to escape room companies to help grow the industry
Jennifer Kennes has been a board game enthusiast since she was a little kid. Ever since she escaped her first room in NYC she has fallen for escape rooms as well. Besides gaming, she loves to be creative in every way – including paper crafts, painting miniatures, carving rubber stamps, and sewing. Sewing is one of her biggest passions and through her degree in textile engineering this passion has continued to grow to the point where she is now inseparable from her sewing machine and she even opened her own shop the dressed bird.
Dante Kennes grew up in a city close to Cologne, Germany, enjoying a variety of board, video, and card games. Currently he is working at Columbia University in NYC as a research fellow in theoretical physics. Ever since he heard about escape rooms he has been eager to try them out, but it took a birthday present from his wife, Jennifer (who is also part of the ERA family) to finally spark his interest in the escape room hobby. Ever since, playing escape rooms has become an increasing part of his free time.
Jeff Kaplan is CEO of a consumer website and enjoys just about every sport and card game ever invented. He is a NJ suburban father of three aspiring escape room addicts, and most of his days and nights are filled with activities for the kids. When not escaping a room he fills his spare time with softball, squash and golf. He is as comfortable in a spreadsheet as in a creative brainstorming.
Wayne Stam grew up with an addiction to the Chicago Cubs and to board games. He is excited that a resurgence in the board game market has coincided with a Cubs’ championship and a worldwide surge in his newest addiction: escape rooms. Wayne has been married for 17 years and has a young son who loves solving puzzles (here’s hoping he will be a future escape room partner). Wayne has been a Bible teacher and missions director for 15 years and lives in the Kansas City area.
Laura Burkart is originally from upstate NY but has called NYC home since 2003. As an aspiring comedy actress she moved to New York and went on lots of auditions (but mostly just bartended). In 2007 she discovered her life’s true calling – hunting people with extraordinary talent and potential and matching them with amazing companies and opportunities in the music and entertainment industry. In addition to her escape room addiction, she enjoys filtering photos of the skyline, unicorns, the personification of animals, and seeing as much live theatre as possible.
By day, Jenna Naulls works in the social services sector as a caseworker helping youth secure employment and assistance. By night, she loves volunteering, babysitting all of the amazing kids in her family and spending time with her friends (often watching Netflix). She loves escape games because of how they bring people together and let everyone show off their unique and amazing talents! She is a lover of puzzles, storytelling, and positive encouragement so she thinks escape games are the perfect place for her. She is up for the ERA challenge and can’t wait to bring you guys reviews!
Kevin Kim is probably the go-to guy during a zombie apocalypse, or at least an escape room. He has a US patent under his name, a music performance degree, and a black belt in taekwondo. Currently, he is working two jobs: managing an online store for women’s fashion and teaching students about the Bible. He fills his free time with writing, baking, and working out, and due to twenty-five years of constant exploration with friends, you’ll find few people who know the ins and outs of LA as well as he does.
Andrew Yu is a boardgame, sci-fi/horror, and escape room fanatic. He also fancies himself a mixologist, and his favorite cocktail is a Whiskey Sangaree. When he is not doing escape rooms, Andrew likes to travel and eat at new restaurants. It is only a matter of time before he designs a mixology themed escape room that would make him millions and revolutionize the industry. Oh, and he is an attorney.
Danielle Height has an extensive background as an entrepreneur, having opened three businesses in the last decade. Quick on her feet, she loves challenges, puzzles, and scavenging. Her passions range from paragliding, geo-caching, murder mysteries, board games, and trivia to theories and philosophy, awesome science-y stuff, and of course escape rooms. Danielle has also been devoted to health and veganism for the last seven years but she will be the first to admit she swoons over vegan junk foods like chocolate bars and pizza, although she does share it with her two beautiful vegan daughters! Danielle has a twin sister; they are inseparable and together they plan on taking over the world! — but shhhh it’s a secret…
Lyndsie Scoggin’s background as a theatrical performer led her to the world of immersive entertainment in 2010 when she began performing in haunted houses. “As a performer, I was searching for a more fulfilling experience, and as it turns out- so were audiences!” After deciding that she too wanted to help create extraordinary experiences for people, in January of 2016 Lyndsie launched her website and dedicated herself to exploring the development and design of all kinds of immersive entertainment. This includes haunts, immersive theater, and of course escape rooms! When she is not busy escaping or blogging, Lyndsie loves to spend time singing & playing piano, studying entrepreneurship, traveling, visiting with family, and (obviously) hunting down food trucks.
Jessey Rice is currently a PhD. student at the University of Waterloo studying Geology. When not in the field he is trying to plan escape rooms, usually cramming 5+ into single week sessions! His love for escaping is rivalled by his love of hockey, soccer, and playing many other sports! Post-escape rooms he will be found planning his next escape room over beer and wings!
Jessica Lee currently works with a bank’s wholesale team during the day. When she’s not trying to fit escape rooms into her week, she can be found trying out various DIY projects or catching up on the latest book/movie. From her love of puzzles and trivia, she quickly became engrossed in escape rooms and has been trying to spread the bug to her friends and family.
Suzanne Jaravata is a creative marketing maven / makeup artist by day, and escape room artist by night! She enjoys hanging by the lake with her husband and their one-eyed wonder pup, “Miss Izzy”. Bit by the puzzle bug at an early age, her dad timed her with brainteasers in lieu of bedtime stories. As a true child of the 80’s, she grew up surrounded by boardgames, Nintendo and comic books… eventually leading into a love of RPG/FPS gaming, and naturally a passion for the exciting world of live action reality rooms. When not escaping, Suzanne can usually be caught travelling, spa-hopping, vintage-hunting, cottaging, or persuading people to randomly play Catchphrase on any given day!