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Caty Borum Chattoo's picture
Caty Borum Chattoo

Caty Borum Chattoo is Executive in Residence in the School of Communication, and Principal Investigator and Creative Director at the Center for Media & Social Impact. As a social-change communication specialist and media producer, she has been engaged as a senior campaign strategist, documentary producer and social-impact research director with media companies, nonprofit organizations and foundations, most recently including Participant Media, Link TV, KCETLink, Working Films and more. She has produced two theatrical documentary feature films (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and The After Party), a TV documentary and transmedia series (Stand Up Planet), multiple half-hour documentary TV specials, a seven-part documentary TV series, and multiple PSA campaigns designed for social change on issues ranging from global poverty to human rights. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Huffington Post, PBS Media Shift and Impatient Optimists (Gates Foundation blog), and her documentaries have aired on the Sundance Channel, Pivot, NDTV (India), PBS World, Link TV, KCET and more. Previously, she was a senior vice president in behavior-change communication at FleishmanHillard International Communications in Washington, D.C.,where she served on the senior leadership team for a national teen prescription drug abuse campaign that was awarded the Public Relations Society of America’s highest honor, the Silver Anvil for Public Service.

In Los Angeles, she was a longtime collaborator with TV producer Norman Lear as a producer and a founding director of Declare Yourself, a national youth civic engagement campaign; and special projects director at the USC Norman Lear Center, a research center that examines the social impact of entertainment. She was also a program officer in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Entertainment Media & Public Health program, where she managed TV partnerships with MTV and BET for the Foundation’s HIV awareness campaign; and a media fellow in civic journalism at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Borum Chattoo holds a master’s degree in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania (The Annenberg School for Communication), and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies (summa cum laude, In Honors, Phi Beta Kappa) from Virginia Tech.

Caty Borum Chattoo can be reached at: chattoo [at] american [dot] edu

Brigid Maher's picture
Brigid Maher

Brigid Maher is a tenured, associate professor of Film and Media Arts. She is Co-Director of the Center for Media and Social Impact and Associate Division Director of the Film and Media Arts Division at American University. Her latest documentary, The Mama Sherpas, is currently screening across the country and follows nurse-midwives, the doctors they work with, and their patients, over the course of two years. The documentary provides an intimate glimpse into what midwives can bring to the birthing process in the hospital system. The film is executively produced by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein ( The Business of Being Born ) and distributed by Bond/360.

Maher’s creative work concentrates on national and international women’s issues with a particular focus on the Middle East and more recently women’s health. Maher’s previous award winning documentary, Veiled Voices , followed three Muslim religious leaders in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon and screened on over 150 public televisions stations across the United States with multiple national satellite broadcasts. The film was also featured in numerous international film festivals, including Al Jazeera Documentary Film Festival and the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival and is distributed by Arab Film Distribution.

In 2005, she taught and worked in Lebanon as a Fulbright Senior Scholar where she filmed a festival award winning fiction short, AWOL, shot on location in in the Bekaa Valley and distributed by Third World Newsreel. Before that she wrote, directed and produced the feature film Adrift in the Heartland, shot in the West Bank and Chicago. Her films have screened at international film festivals throughout the United States.

Maher’s scholarly writing focuses on the interplay between traditional film and new media theories. Her additional award-winning film work has shown in festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Her writings have been published by Cilect, the International Digital Media Arts Conference Journal and featured in the D|N|A Anthology.

Maher’s contribution to the academy further includes her roles as the co-executive editor of the online Journal for Digital Media Arts and Practice, incoming president of the International Digital Media Arts Association and Conference Vice President for the University Film and Video Association.

Brigid can be reached at bmaher [at] american [dot] edu

Patricia Aufderheide's picture
Patricia Aufderheide
Senior Research Fellow

Center director Patricia Aufderheide is University Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. She is the co-author with Peter Jaszi of Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago Press, July 2011), and author of, among others, Documentary: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2007), The Daily Planet (University of Minnesota Press, 2000), and of Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press, 1999). She heads the Fair Use and Free Speech research project at the Center, in conjunction with Prof. Peter Jaszi in American University's Washington College of Law. She has been a Fulbright and John Simon Guggenheim fellow and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival among others. She has received numerous journalism and scholarly awards, including the Preservation and Scholarship award in 2006 from the International Documentary Association, a career achievement award in 2008 from the International Digital Media and Arts Association, and the Woman of Vision Award from Women in Film and Video (DC) in 2010. Aufderheide serves on the board of directors of Kartemquin Films, a leading independent social documentary production company, and and on the editorial boards of a variety of publications, including Communication Law and Policy and In These Times newspaper. She has served on the board of directors of the Independent Television Service, which produces innovative television programming for underserved audiences under the umbrella of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and on the film advisory board of the National Gallery of Art. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota.

Pat can be reached at: paufder [at] american [dot] edu

Larry Kirkman's picture
Larry Kirkman
Senior Strategy Advisor and Senior Research Fellow

Larry Kirkman is a Professor of Film and Media Arts and dean emeritus of the
American University School of Communication, where he heads the film division’s concentration on social, political and cultural impact. As an expert in public-purpose media, he has played leadership roles in philanthropy for media policy and practice, advocacy communication, video and documentary film production, journalism and academia. Currently, he serves in strategic capacities at two flagship academic centers, as an executive producer in the Investigative Reporting Workshop and senior strategy advisor and senior fellow in the Center for Media and Social Impact.

His work at the intersection of documentary, advocacy, and journalism includes public television documentaries funded by PBS, CPB and NEA, and social advertising campaigns, including Union Yes for the AFL-CIO, and Connect for Kids, a partnership between the Benton Foundation and the Advertising Council, which received more than $300 million in donated media and was a pioneer in digital strategies. As the American Film Institute’s first director for video and television, he produced the National Video Festival at the Kennedy Center in 1981 and 1982, and as executive director of the Benton Foundation, in 1993 he produced the International Advocacy Video Conference, which brought together 300 producers from 18 countries to define the emerging field. Also at Benton, he was co-editor of Strategic Communications for Nonprofits, a series of media guides distributed by foundations to their grantees, including Ford, MacArthur and Carnegie; published Making Television Matter in collaboration with MacArthur and POV; and he co-founded the Coalition for America's Children and its Who's for Kids and Who's Just Kidding campaign. He served as chair of oneworld.org, an international online news service and innovator in public service communications.

Larry can be reached at larry [at] american [dot] edu

Laura DeNardis's picture
Laura DeNardis
Research Fellow

Laura DeNardis is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at American University. She is a globally recognized Internet governance scholar whose research addresses Internet policy and technical design issues related to communication rights and freedom of expression online. Before joining American University, she served as the Executive Director of the Yale Information Society Project. Her books include Opening Standards: The Global Politics of Interoperability (MIT Press 2011); Protocol Politics: The Globalization of Internet Governance (MIT Press 2009); Information Technology in Theory (Thompson 2007 with Pelin Aksoy); and a forthcoming Yale University Press book on Global Internet Governance. DeNardis earned a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech, an MEng from Cornell University, an AB in Engineering Science from Dartmouth College, and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from Yale Law School.

Laura DeNardis can be reached at denardis [at] american [dot] edu

Deen Freelon's picture
Deen Freelon
Research Fellow

Deen Freelon is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies . He has two major areas of expertise: 1) political expression through digital media, and 2) the use of data science and computational methods to extract, preprocess, and analyze massive amounts of online data. Freelon has published in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, American Behavioral Scientist, and Information, Communication & Society. He is the creator of ReCal, an online intercoder reliability application that has been used by thousands of researchers around the world; and TSM, a network analysis module for the Python programming language. He formerly served as a technology trainer, web designer, and multimedia consultant at Duke University.

Deen can be reached at freelon [at] american [dot] edu

Nina Shapiro-Perl's picture
Nina Shapiro-Perl
Creative Director, Community Voice Project

Nina Shapiro-Perl is an award-winning producer and director who currently holds
the position of Filmmaker-in-Residence at American University, where she teaches and leads the Community Voice Project as Creative Director in the Center for Media and Social Impact. Before joining the faculty of American University, she worked for twenty years directing the Video Services Department and Greenhouse Cultural Program of the Service Employees International Union. Nina earned her doctorate from the University of Connecticut as a social anthropologist. Her first job outside academia was as a writer and producer at Maryland Public Television. Her multi-award-winning film, "Through the Eye of the Needle" documents the art and story of Holocaust survivor and artist Esther Nisenthal Krinitz ( artandremembrance.org ). Her latest film, “Landscape of Power: Freedom and Slavery in the Great Dismal Swamp” documents the major research findings of archeologist Daniel Sayers, that for first time establish occupation by maroon communities in the swamp for more than 200 years. The film carries to the public a story of agency, resistance and resilience among escaped slaves who chose heat, insects, and wild animals over plantation life.

Nina can reached at shapirop [at] american [dot] edu.

Aram Sinnreich's picture
Aram Sinnreich
Research Fellow

Dr. Aram Sinnreich is an Associate Professor at American University’s School of Communication, in the Communication Studies division. Sinnreich’s work focuses on the intersection of culture, law and technology, with an emphasis on subjects such as emerging media and music. He is the author of two books, Mashed Up , and The Piracy Crusade (2013), and has written for publications including the New York Times, Billboard and Wired. Prior to coming to AU, Sinnreich served as Assistant Professor at Rutgers University's School of Communication and Information, Director at media innovation lab OMD Ignition Factory, Managing Partner of media/tech consultancy Radar Research, Visiting Professor at NYU Steinhardt, and Senior Analyst at Jupiter Research. He is also a bassist and composer, and has played with groups and artists including progressive soul collective Brave New Girl, dub-and-bass band Dubistry, and Ari-Up, lead singer of the Slits. Along with co-authors Dunia Best and Todd Nocera, Sinnreich was a finalist in the 2014 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, in the jazz category.

Aram can be reached at aram [at] american [dot] edu

Benjamin Stokes's picture
Benjamin Stokes
Research Fellow

Benjamin Stokes is a civic media scholar and urban game designer. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at American University. Previously, he co-founded Games for Change, the movement hub for advancing social change with games. Benjamin also worked at the MacArthur Foundation, where he was a program officer in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. Most recently, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Information. Prior industry work included leading design teams at NetAid/Mercy Corps in global citizenship education.

Benjamin can be reached at bstokes [at] american [dot] edu

Mitra Arthur's picture
Mitra Arthur
Graduate Fellow

Mitra I. Arthur is a native of both Upper Marlboro, MD and Columbia, SC. She received her Bachelors in Arts in English and Music from Columbia College, SC. Mitra has a background in Theatre, Arts Management & Education and Event Producing after time with various theatre companies, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Capital Jazz Productions. Mitra is currently pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Electronic Media at American University.

Emily Crawford's picture
Emily Crawford
Graduate Fellow

Emily Crawford is currently an MFA candidate in Film and Electronic Media at American University. She holds a BA from Swarthmore College in English literature with a minor in art history. She creates documentary media that leverages the power of the visual to effect change on both a personal and societal level.

Diana Eaton's picture
Diana Eaton
Graduate Fellow

Diana Eaton is a current AU graduate student in the Master's of Film and Video program. She received her BA from the University of Baltimore where she studied psychology. An artist at heart, Diana has always had a strong passion for writing stories and poems. Her work is mostly influenced by her personal life experiences, including the many trials and tribulations of life and the road to triumph. Diana hopes to make films that will target various social, political, religious, and mental health issues. Her main goal is to use her artistic abilities to positively impact and change the world for the present and future generations.

Casey Freeman Howe's picture
Casey Freeman Howe
Graduate Fellow

Casey Freeman Howe is a filmmaker, researcher and entrepreneur working at the intersection of art, technology and politics. She holds a BA from Duke University in Political Science and International Comparative Studies and is currently an MFA candidate in Film and Electronic Media at American University.

Jessica Henry Mariona's picture
Jessica Henry Mariona
Graduate Fellow

Jessica Henry Mariona is a researcher and storyteller exploring how art, entertainment, and media are used to create positive social change around the world. She is a Washington, D.C. native, and holds a BA in Theater from the University of Maryland, College Park. Jessica also served as a Youth Development Specialist in the U.S. Peace Corps in El Salvador. She is currently pursuing her MA in Strategic Communication at American University.

Adam Lee's picture
Adam Lee
Multimedia Designer

Adam Lee is currently pursuing his MA in Film & Video, with a concentration in post-production and video editing. He discovered video production by way of music performance, and is excited to draw from his various skills and experiences to craft meaningful and transformative stories. He holds a Bachelors degree in Communication Studies from James Madison University with a Minor in Music Industry.

Mayra Linares's picture
Mayra Linares
Graduate Fellow

Mayra Linares is a filmmaker, photographer, and a Fulbright Garcia-Robles Scholar. She earned a BA in Communication Sciences from the Tec de Monterrey-Campus Querétaro. Currently, she pursues a MA in Film and Video at American University. In her spare time she enjoys a great cup of coffee, listening to filmmakers chat about their craft, and practicing yoga.