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2007 Making Your Documentary Matter Conference Participant Biographies

2007 Keynote Speaker

Robert Greenwald is a producer, director and political activist. Greenwald is the director/producer of several documentaries: Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006), Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004). He also executive produced a trilogy of political documentaries: Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002); Uncovered: The Iraq War (2003), which Greenwald also directed; and Unconstitutional (2004).

In addition to his documentary work, Greenwald has produced and/or directed more than 50 television movies and miniseries for every major network and cable company. Greenwald also produced and directed the feature film, Steal This Movie, starring Vincent D'Onofrio as 60's radical Abbie Hoffman, as well as Breaking Up,starring Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek.

Greenwald's films have garnered 25 Emmy nominations, four cable ACE Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, the Peabody Award, the Robert Wood Johnson Award, and eight Awards of Excellence from the Film Advisory Board. He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute.

2007 Conference Participants

Patricia Finneran, Festival Director, SILVERDOCS
Patricia joined SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival in the fall of 2003; under her leadership the Festival has grown to six days presenting nearly 100 films from all over the world to over 21,000 attendees at the AFI Silver Theatre, just outside Washington, DC. She launched the International Documentary Conference, which brings together leading industry executives with filmmakers and other media professionals to explore new trends in documentary. Patricia served as Artistic Director of the IFP Market in New York, the largest and longest-running market for independent filmmakers in the US. In 2000, she joined iCAST.com where she oversaw the creation of the film education section and reported on the independent film scene, covering Telluride, Cannes and Sundance. Following her studies at the AFI Conservatory producers program, Patricia became a feature film development executive in Hollywood. She started her career in film and television as a documentary producer specializing in international economic issues for the Unites States Information Agency and the International Monetary Fund. She is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University.

Michael Hoffman is the CEO of See3 Communications, a firm that specializes in helping nonprofits leverage the new world of web-based video to get their messages out. See3 creates compelling content, repurposes existing content, and creates innovative distribution programs to advance nonprofit missions. See3 is also the developer of DoGooderTV, which has been dubbed a "YouTube for nonprofit." Hoffman is an expert in internet marketing and communications and is the former Institutional Grants Director for the New Israel Fund, a Washington DC-based organization that raises money for projects in Israel.

Robert West co-founded Working Films with Judith Helfand in late 1999. West, as curator of film and video at the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte NC, from 1985 - 1999, directed a well known and highly respected media program that included a national independent film festival and national touring film programs, including Conflict & Peace: Recent Israeli and Palestinian Film. West was curator of Recollections: Lumbee Heritage, a unique traveling exhibit on NC Native Americans, that continues to tour the Southeast.

Louis Massiah is an independent documentary film maker whose films often explore historical and political subjects. A MacArthur Foundation fellow, his works include W.E.B. Du Bois - a Biography in Four Voices and Louise Thompson Patterson: In Her Own Words, a biography of the activist and organizer. His current project for public television, Haytian Stories, examines the complex relationship between the United States and Haiti. He has used the documentary as a tool for exploring community histories in The Bombing of Osage Avenue, on the 1985 Philadelphia police bombing, and as a producer/director of Power! and A Nation of Law?, two films for the PBS series Eyes on the Prize II.

Massiah is the founder and executive director of the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, a media arts organization that provides low-cost workshops and equipment access to emerging video/filmmakers. Aside from teaching at Scribe, Massiah has been a lecturer and resident artist at the Princeton University Atelier, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is a professor at American University in the School of Communication.

Vince Stehle is a Program Officer for Nonprofit Sector Support Program at the Surdna Foundation. Before coming to Surdna, Vince worked for ten years as a reporter for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, where he covered fundraising and management issues for the nonprofit sector. In addition, Vince has written extensively for other publications, including The Washington Post, The Nation, Symphony Magazine and other magazines and journals.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning African-American feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, international lecturer, published writer, and activist who uses the moving image, written and spoken word to advocate for left of center, radical progressive social change. She produced, wrote and directed NO!, the award-winning, ground-breaking feature length documentary which unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence and healing in African-American communities. Since its release in 2006, NO! has been screened extensively at conferences, colleges/universities, high schools, film festivals, correctional facilities, rape crisis centers, and battered women's shelters across the United States and in Spain, Italy, South Africa, Hungary, and Mexico. In the early 90s, she produced and directed two internationally acclaimed videos Silence...Broken and In My Father's House, which explore the issues of race, gender, and sexuality from an AfroLez®femcentric perspective.

Ms. Simmons has lectured on and written several articles/essays, which are featured in several anthologies and journals in the United States and internationally, about the impact of the intersections of oppressions on Black women's lives.

Dennis Palmieri has been working in public and community relations and marketing communications for large non-profits for nearly ten years. Currently, Dennis is the Director of Communications for ITVS, where he oversees both publicity efforts as well as ITVS Community, the national community and civic engagement program of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens. Dennis has also served as public relations officer and later deputy regional director for the Western U.S. with Amnesty International. During more than six years on staff he led communications, advocacy and civic engagement efforts around human rights issues in the Western U.S. Dennis co-founded the Amnesty International Film Festival and served as festival producer for four years.

Marissa Brown is the Deputy Director Staff at the Alliance for Justice. Marissa was the Vice President for Education Programs at the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund where she directed its programs and field staff. At the National Democratic Institute, she worked on building democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. She has also worked for the Close Up Foundation, the World Bank and as a high school teacher in Mexico.

Jean Seok is Director of Technology and Programs at Arts Engine. Jean has over ten years experience working with and writing about technology. As a multimedia designer and web developer she developed interactive projects for organizations such as the American Museum of Natural History. She led the CNET Korea team during its first year of inception, and contributed reports on Asia’s high-tech industry to Internet.com. For years she was a science and computer journalist for The Korea Herald and South Korea’s first English-language cable television channel. She also edited an online resource guidebook for Thomson Healthcare and created companion websites for the company’s publications. Outside her work at Arts Engine, she is currently producing a documentary on "comfort women"—Korean women forced to serve as sexual slaves for the Japanese military during WWII.

Professor Matt Nisbet is a social scientist who studies the nature and impacts of strategic communication. His current research tracks scientific and environmental controversies, examining the interactions between experts, journalists, and various publics.

The author or co-author of twenty research articles and book chapters, his work appears across a number of leading journals. Nisbet co-authored the much-talked-about Columbia Journalism Review cover story on intelligent design, and he has written for other popular outlets such as Foreign Policy and Geotimes magazines. Nisbet also contributes the monthly "Science and the Media" column for Skeptical Inquirer Online, and he tracks current events related to strategic communication at his blog "Framing Science," hosted by Seed magazine.

Nisbet has served as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, as well as other government agencies and non-governmental organizations. At American University, he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Political Communication, Public Communication Theory, and Communication and Society.

Rahdi Taylor is a newly appointed Associate Director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program. She has directed short and feature length independent projects and was selected as an invited artist in residence at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. She is the winner of the Paul Robeson Award from the FESPACO Film Festival in Ouagadougou—the Cannes of Africa.

She served the independent film community as Board Chair of Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers until 2004. She has been adjunct faculty in Media Studies at New College of California, as well as a guest lecturer on race and representation at U.C. Berkeley and Mills College. Rahdi was Director of the Production Assistance Program, working with women media makers at Women Make Movies in New York. Most recently, she designed social messaging campaigns for racial justice films as Director of Marketing and Communications at California Newsreel, the oldest social justice film center in the country. At Sundance Institute, she will be working with Documentary Film Program Director Cara Mertes and the DFP to support contemporary-issue documentary filmmakers worldwide.

Joy Thomas Moore is the Manager of Making Connections Communications and Media Projects for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children and families in the United States. Her primary responsibilities include oversight of the Foundation’s national communications network and management of the Foundation’s media portfolio.

Prior to joining the Foundation in 1992, Joy was a freelance writer and field producer in the New York city area, where she contributed to numerous local and nationally syndicated programs, including ESSENCE: The Television Program, where for five years she was the senior writer for the weekly program. She later served as writer or field producer for the following productions: "Women Into the Nineties," (WNBC, Winter, 1990); "America’s Black Forum," hosted by Julian Bond, (1990-1992); and the critically acclaimed eight-part documentary series, "Images & Realities: African American Men" and its sequels, "The African American Family" (1992-1993), "African American Women" (1993), and as senior writer for "African American Children" (1994).

Prior to her work in television, Joy served in a variety of editorial positions at WMAL-AM radio, the ABC-owned and operated station in Washington, D.C. Her awards include an Edward R. Murrow and George Foster Peabody Awards for Public Service for the 1972 documentary "Suffer the Little Children," a multi-part radio series on sexually abused children; a No Greater Love Foundation Award for radio documentary on the plight of children of Vietnam veterans in 1973; The Clarion Award for Public Service; and the Chesapeake Associated Press award for radio documentary excellence for a series on women caught in the cycle of alcohol abuse. During the period between 1974 and 1977, Joy also served as an adjunct professor in the Journalism Department at Howard University.

Joy earned both her B.A. and M.A. in Broadcast Journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.

Ellen Schneider is founder and executive director of Active Voice, a team of strategic communication specialists that puts socially relevant film to work for personal and institutional change in communities, workplaces, and campuses across America. AV has worked with online campaigns; theatrical releases; PBS, DiscoveryTimes and Court TV broadcasts; and in scores of community-based settings around the country.

Previously Schneider was executive producer of P.O.V., where she developed High Impact Television, a technique for creating links between documentaries, individuals, grassroots organizations and other media. With funding from the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, Schneider then created the Television Race Initiative, recognized as a "promising practice" by President Clinton's Initiative on Race. She was also the creator and executive producer of Right Here, Right Now, PBS' first video diary series.

Schneider was a member of the start-up team for ITVS and has served on juries ranging from the Sundance Film Festival to RioCine . She’s worked as a Hollywood-based story analyst, associate producer and production manager for low budget independent feature films and original television movies.

Benjamen Walker is a new media producer for the PBS series American Experience. He is currently working on the We Shall Remain Citizen Storytellers project, a component of American Experience's upcoming series on Native American History. The Citizen Storytellers project will provide 200 Native Americans across the country with the latest cell phone technology to produce their own short videos which will be distributed nationwide through web sites, iPods , cell phones and other new-media platforms. He also produces a podcast for npr.org called the Theory of Everything.

jesikah maria ross is a community cultural development practitioner who has spent the past 15 years working with schools, non-governmental organizations, and social action groups around the globe to create participatory projects that generate media literacy, civic engagement, and community change. An award-winning media activist, jesikah's work centers on advancing social and environmental justice. She is the sound recordist and former Community Development Coordinator for MAQUILAPOLIS ("city of factories"), a film by and for workers in Tijuana’s assembly factories which aired nationally on PBS in October, 2006. She is currently Project Co-Director of Saving The Sierra: Voices of Conservation In Action which documents community efforts to conserve the culture, economy, and environment of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California through public radio programs and community storytelling activities. jesikah teaches community media courses at UC Davis and consults with community media organizations in Europe, Africa, and the United States.

Katerina Cizek is a documentary-maker. Her films have helped instigate criminal investigations, changed UN policies, and have screened as evidence at an International Criminal Tribunal. Her films have documented the Handicam Revolution, and have themselves become part of the movement.

Recently, she is the National Film Board of Canada's first Filmmaker-in-Residence – a project that partners media with medicine in order to fuel social and political action. Cizek’s recent film about new technologies and human rights, Seeing Is Believing (co-directed with Peter Wintonick) won the prestigious Abraham Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival, among other prizes and nominations. It showed on television in over 15 countries, and played at more than 70 international film festivals.

She wrote, edited and narrated the 1996 Dead Are Alive: Eyewitness in Rwanda, which was translated into 12 languages, and garnered prizes in New York, San Francisco Golden Gate, Biarritz, the European Echo Humanitarian Award and played at INPUT Mexico. She is a two-time Gemini nominee, and the co-recipient of a 2000 Montreal New Talent Award. Cizek also has made films on the Czech velvet revolution; worked in Aboriginal Gang Territory; investigated a global people-smuggling ring; and directed a series of reports about the battle over water in Central Asia.

Glenn Otis Brown has been Executive Director of Creative Commons since Summer 2002. Before that, he served as Assistant Director. A lecturer at Stanford Law School, Brown teaches a class on Creative Commons and free and open-source software licensing with Lawrence Lessig.

Before his work with the Creative Commons, Brown clerked for the Honorable Stanley Marcus on the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Miami, where he worked on the Wind Done Gone copyright appeal. He has worked at The Economist's Washington D.C. bureau, and at Digital Age, a New York public TV show hosted by Andrew Shapiro, where he was assistant producer for a season. Mr. Brown was a member of the Harvard Law Review and worked at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, where he organized Signal or Noise?, a digital music conference and concert, in cooperation with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Jessica Clark, the executive editor of In These Times, brings expertise in cultural studies, gender issues, and media advocacy to the publication, along with experience in a wide range of independent and educational publishing ventures. Jessica has been working in and fighting for independent media since the late ’90s. She currently serves on the board of Stay Free! magazine, and helped to bring that publication’s controversial and widely covered exhibit, Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age, to Chicago. She is also an advisory member of the steering committee for the Midwest office of the Independent Press Association, and is involved in a wide variety of media activism efforts. As a co-editor and writer for LiP Magazine from late 2001 – 2002, Jessica helped to broaden the magazine’s audience by transitioning the publication to the Web.

Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director of WITNESS, is a filmmaker and an attorney. She was formerly Co-Director of the Global Survival Network, where she coordinated a two-year undercover investigation into the trafficking of women. She is a recipient of the 2000 Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Award, was named one of 40 Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs by the Schwab Foundation, a 2003 Tech Laureate by the Tech Museum, and a Special Partner by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public.

Adrienne Bramhall heads Sierra Club Productions, the television and film division of the Sierra Club, and is On the Brink's Executive Producer. Her Executive Producer credits include the Emmy-Award winning Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film, co-produced with Ric Burns' Steeplechase Films; Vertical Frontier, a feature length documentary on the history of climbing in Yosemite, and news segments aired on National Geographic Channel's Today news program.

Adrienne holds a B.S. in Communications and Media from Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the International Documentary Association, and is also a past President of the Atlanta Chapter of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT).

Sara DeWitt is Senior Director of PBS KIDS & Parents Interactive. She oversees day-to-day development of PBS’ Internet sites for kids, parents, and families, including the Webby-award winning pbskids.org. She joined PBS Interactive in 1999 and has worked with producers on a variety of award-winning television program sites, such as Cyberchase, Dragon Tales, and ZOOM.

During her tenure at PBS, Ms. DeWitt has helped develop and expand PBS KIDS content on the Internet and served on the team that developed PBS KIDS GO!, a television and Internet block for kids between the ages of 6 and 9. In addition to television companion sites, Ms. DeWitt has overseen production of nationally-recognized Internet-original projects on PBS KIDS GO!, such as It’s My Life and EekoWorld.

Before coming to PBS KIDS, Ms. DeWitt worked as a field researcher studying leadership opportunities and media habits of children in rural United States for the Stanford University Spencer Project for Youth and Families.