Mid-Week Intermission Staff Edition: Michael Gaona, Long Center’s Director of Facilities
You probably know by now that creativity is our favorite thing, especially when it’s the creativity of our own staff and volunteers! Look no further than Long Center’s Michael Gaona, Director of Facilities. Read on in this Mid-Week Intermission to learn about his origin story and wide range of super creative hobbies. Meanwhile, we’ll busy ourselves with some of the home-baked goods he brought to the office this morning. 🧁
My name is Michael Gaona and I am the Director of Facilities here at the Long Center.
I’m originally from San Antonio and moved here in 2009. I live in South Austin with my wife Luna, daughter Milu, and two dogs, Rascal and Gizmo.
My oldest daughter lives in San Antonio with my three beautiful grandkids. Yes, I’m a PAPA, as they call me!
I grew up in a family that loved music! It seemed to be part of everything we did. From barbeques to birthday parties, and even ritual Sundays when my mom and aunts would clean their houses. I remember being at my grandmother’s when I was younger, watching her cook and clean listening to Sunny Ozuna, Augustine Ramirez, and Little Joe, dancing while she dusted… I do the same to this day.
I guess this is where my love of music came from. I listen to pretty much everything, but my faves are punk, rockabilly, new wave, old soul and R&B. As a teen, I was drummer and lead guitar for a couple of going-nowhere bands — we played covers from AC/DC to Metallica and a lot of ’80s hair bands. I was also in a MISFITS cover band. The experience of performing in front of an audience made it all worth it.
The music thing never took off, so I joined the NAVY right out of high school in 1991 where I was a GM (Gunner’s Mate) on the John F. Kennedy until 1996. Soon after, I began my career in Multifamily Housing. I attended San Antonio College where I received my Bachelor’s in electrical engineering with emphasis in Commercial and Residential construction, which brought me here to Austin in 2009 to work for a Multifamily Residential builder.
I also attended Everest Technical College here in Austin and received my Universal HVAC License, where I graduated with honors and was class valedictorian in 2011. After graduation, I was asked to become an evening and weekend instructor for the HVAC and Electrical program there, but that ended when the school closed in 2016.
I started to dabble in tattooing and costume & prop making for a couple of friends I met here, which blossomed — my creative spark was lit again!! After others had seen what I had made, I was commissioned to create post-apocalyptic outfits for others who frequently attended a festival called Wasteland Weekend, held in Edwards, California, around September-October. It’s a fully-immersive festival where people dress and live in a post-apocalyptic setting.
In doing these, I was introduced to someone who worked on films here in Austin. I was asked to help with a few low budget films and then worked on a couple of shows and movies that were being filmed here as well. All this was happening while working my day job as a Maintenance Supervisor and raising my daughter Milu, born June 1, 2013 — she’s 10 now. After a couple of years, I had to make the tough decision to stop and focus my spare time on her. I still create costumes and props in my free time, though.
Since 2016, I’ve had the opportunity to work for some amazing companies, wich gave me the experience and knowledge I have now. Sadly, COVID hit, and I was laid off from one of the most amazing positions I thought I would ever have. I took to baking to cope with the stress of the job loss and pass the time until I was back on my feet, and I actually became pretty good at it. I found a position with a company that didn’t last through the crazy snowstorm of 2021, and then after that, I found myself here at the Long Center, working alongside amazing people with lots of talent.
The venue and atmosphere here are beyond belief. Being part of an organization that puts on some of the most amazing shows, from ballet to orchestras, as well as other kinds of events, AND gives so much to the community is awesome! My favorite experience after joining the Long Center team was standing on the edge of the Ring Beam looking over the Austin skyline. Thinking back to that moment, I can now say it’s the best place to work and I have the best postion I could ever have.
Can’t wait to see you in the audience…
At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.