US Program Committee

U.S. Program Committee members are all working artists in a wide variety of artistic disciplines. They help give input on our developing programs to make sure these serve artists well. They also help spread the word about the organization. Where they wish, they give more hands-on support for specific programs in their areas.

Robyn Cox

Robyn Cox

Chair, US Program Committee Member

Robyn Lyn Cox is the only daughter of Bruce E. and (the late) Betty Oliver Cox. She is from Florence, Alabama, part of the “Shoals Area”(right across the Tennessee River from Muscle Shoals). Robyn is a 2002 graduate from Coffee High School where she graduated with honors in Theatre. Cox took an interest in the Arts at a young age and began dancing at age 7 at a local studio. Her interest in theatre and the dramatic arts began in high school where Robyn participated in a number of productions and placed 2nd in the state competition the Walter Trumbauer Theatre and Speech Festival her senior year. She was inducted into the International Thespian Honor Society later that year. During which time she began exploring my creativity with a number of artistic media where Robyn developed a deep appreciation for stained glass and continue working with stained glass in the form of mosaics made with cement grout/mortar. In recent years Robyn has also used many materials in creating one-of-a-kind pieces, including polymer clay, seashells, rocks, feathers, and many more from natural and synthetic sources. Robyn is a very passionate person learning to deal with life’s difficulties through artistic creation, whether it be through a performance or something made by her own hand. Cox is an avid reader and have always enjoyed: the literary arts, poetry, music, the outdoors, the Gulf Coast, and The Rolling Stones! She has always loved animals and nature and Robyn still resides in her hometown of Florence with my partner of more than six years, Ryan Bennington, and her two year old smooth/red miniature dachshund, Honey.

Annie Smathers

Annie Smathers

Community Outreach Volunteer

Ann’s main hobbies are leather working, writing, singing/songwriting,  and arts and crafts in general (“Jackie of all trades and master of none”).  She made her own guitar straps.  In 2009, she won 2nd Place in Paranormal Underground Magazine’s Short Fiction Contest.  She also has a huge passion for history and got her BA in Dec. 2000 from the University of New Mexico.  

She used to work as an office manager/transcriptionist for a clinical neuropsychologist where she loved meeting all kinds of people,  had many opportunities to help them, and wants to continue serving others in whatever new ways she can.   She is a native of Albuquerque, NM and in her spare time, she loves cuddling her best friend’s dog, whom she calls her “fur niece”, a blue Bedlington terrier who smiles a lot. 

Jim Aceves

Jim Aceves

U.S. Program Committee Member

Coming soon.

William Andrejko

William Andrejko

US Program Committee

Soumyaa Behrens

Soumyaa Behrens

U.S. Program Committee Member

Soumyaa Kapil Behrens is strategic media specialist and award winning artist whose work is focused on the socio-urban environment and geo-specific communities. Her short films, Climate Change (2008) and My Garbage, My Neighborhood (2011) have screened nationwide and abroad. Soumyaa is currently in post-production on her first feature film, 780 Frederick, a documentary-noir that chronicles the forced demise of a community recycling center in Golden Gate Park. She curates bi-monthly environmental art shows at the Reclaimed Room, an exhibition space on the Industrial shores of San Francisco, and publishes multiple blogs for local nonprofit organizations. She has produced multiple narrative films including, Kunjo (2010), Beyond Redemption (2013) and Jaime’s Car (2014) and lectures in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University. Soumyaa holds an MFA in Cinema Production and serves as the President of the nonprofit, Bay Area Women In Film and Media (BAWIFM), a chapter of Women In Film and TV International (WIFTI). She has been awarded numerous grants for her work. Select clients include San Francisco Film Society, Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, Sunset Heights Association of Responsible People, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, Building REsources, Oddball Film + Video, and Golden Poppy Productions among others.

Lesley Mandros Bell

Lesley Mandros Bell

U.S. Program Committee Member

A resident of Oakland since 1989, Lesley Mandros Bell has worked in precious metal clay jewelry and visual arts, teaching in the past at Studio One, Walnut Creek Art Center and other local art programs, as well as working as an editor. With an international upbringing in countries ranging from Pakistan to Poland, her main interest is in connecting people from disparate communities who share interests and strengths.  Lesley has worked as a volunteer for several non-profit boards and organizations in the Bay Area, and is currently serving as a Library Commissioner for the City of Oakland.

Daniel Bertram

Daniel Bertram

U.S. Program Committee Member

Daniel Bertram is a pianist, music theory teacher, and writer.  He accompanies, performs solo on the piano, tutors music theory, and is working on a screenplay based on the turbulent life of a famous nineteenth-century composer as well as a novel based loosely on the turbulent life of a famous twentieth-century violinist.  Daniel has a BA in music from Harvard University and a PhD in music from Yale University.

Leslie Bialik

Leslie Bialik

U.S. Program Committee Member

After Leslie retired from her job as a public defender in Contra Costa County, she decided to pursue her lifelong passion for photography. She photographs events for non-profit organizations including East Bay SPCA, Chaparral House, CCH Housing, Artists United, as well as many gigs for her musician friends. People and animals are her favorite subjects. Email her at: realrockergirl@gmail.com.

Jason Blasingame

Jason Blasingame

U.S. Program Committee Member

Jason Blasingame is a jazz saxophonist currently performing in multiple locations around San Francisco, CA. with guitarist Toku Woo. He recently moved to the Bay area from Houston, TX, where he received his formal musical education from the University of Houston’s Moore’s School of Music, studying under prominent jazz musicians Woody Witt and director Noe Marmalejo. Prior to his university studies, he attended and graduated from Houston’s prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where he specialized in both classical and jazz saxophone studies. In addition to playing saxophone, he also enjoys playing piano, and is an amateur ballroom dancer in his free time.

Scott Boswell

Scott Boswell

U.S. Program Committee Member

Scott Boswell is a San Francisco-based independent filmmaker and professor of filmmaking who has completed numerous shorts and the award-winning feature film, The Stranger in Us.  His new short, “Happily Ever After,” is currently in the festival circuit, and his previous short, “The Day I Grew Up,” is extracted from his feature screenplay, All American Boy.  Currently he co-facilitates a feature screenwriting group in San Francisco from which numerous scripts have been produced.  When he is not busy working on a film project, Scott spends his time directing stage shows and teaching filmmaking at San Francisco State University.

Greg Boudreaux

Greg Boudreaux

U.S. Program Committee Member

Greg was born in New Orleans and moved up and down the east coast before landing in California and calling it home. He did research in a physics lab, substitute teaching in a day care, coached 60+ youth sports teams, and managed a brewpub before his desire to combine technology and art in daily life led him to work in TV. He produced segments for USA/Scifi and CNBC, taught himself to edit, then decided post production was the right place to be. He’s supervised post for 2 of the largest cable production companies in the SF Bay Area, currently working at Hoff Productions.  He designs and builds tracking systems for edits and deliverables, loves technology and logistics, and is credited on more than 450 television shows for many cable channels- National Geographic, Discovery, History, and Travel to name a few. 9 years ago he started a networking group for film and TV people (Production Convergence) that still meets monthly.  He’s currently writing screenplays and thinking about independent projects.

Curtis Bowman

Curtis Bowman

U.S. Program Committee Member

Curtis Bowman is an innovator, artist, writer, teacher, mentor and youth advocate living in Dayton, OH. A passionate campaigner for social justice, Curtis believes in the power of the arts to effect change through personal transformation. In support of this belief, she has developed and acquired funding for arts programs for inner city youth, organized and run youth programs that combine stem and arts curricula, and assisted non-profit organizations with funding development for programs that target at-risk youth and domestic and sexual abuse survivors. In addition to nearly 20 years of service and leadership in the non-profit community as a grant writer and fundraiser,  Curtis provides hands on youth mentoring as a volunteer with The Boy Scouts of America, The Girl Scouts, First Robotics, and Ohio 4H. Curtis is thrilled to serve Artists United through the U.S. Program Committee, and committed to introducing all the Dayton arts community to Artists United. 

Anahita Wendy Bridges

Anahita Wendy Bridges

U.S. Program Committee Member

Anahita grew up within a family of artists on a large farm in Northern California. As a teenager with little pocket money for canvas she started dumpster diving in the city for wood or old windows and did her first series of paintings this way. With a love for vintage and collage Anahita has done several series of suit cases and even covered a 1980 Datsun pickup truck in Foiled Origami Paper and photographs. Mediums may change with time, but what remains constant is her love of the process and her desire to create, inspire, and continue to learn.

Dave Carter

Dave Carter

U.S. Program Committee Member

Dave Carter is the founder of www.harebrained.com and admits to being a screenwriting seminar junkie. When not working for Tesla as a writer or watching his daughters play sports, he Executive Produces short films and writes feature-length spec scripts.

Alicia Champion

Alicia Champion

U.S. Program Committee Member

Alicia Champion is 35 years old and has been a professional producer/ composer/ arranger and performer for almost 18 years with past credits in music/ film/ tv including Interscope Records, Universal Music Group, MTV, Disney, ESPN, 20th Century Fox and more.

Her work has been endorsed by artists like Steven Tyler and Patty Larkin, and she’s also clocked time on the TV screen, winning VH1’s reality-based contest, “You Rock With Melissa Etheridge,” and appearing on Fox’s musical series, “Glee.” In addition to her background in music, Alicia is also an up and coming video media producer. In 2015, her first music video as producer went viral with press across the globe hailing its groundbreaking nature. She has since produced two more music videos and is producing her first feature film.

Sandi Chin-Mar

Sandi Chin-Mar

U.S. Program Committee Member

Skye Christensen

Skye Christensen

U.S. Program Committee Member

Skye is a Communications Consultant, supporting mission-based clients with media strategy and content creation to achieve organizational goals. Founder of Jomon Media, which leverages organizational development, authentic storytelling, and digital media to elevate brands and engage communities, Skye facilitates and produces media projects primarily for art & culture, education, and health & wellness organizations.

Her professional experience includes film production, broadcasting, award-winning web series and podcasts, online course development, social media engagement, as well as multi-platform marketing initiatives, including print and web collateral. In addition to media creation and curation, Skye has taught at institutions such as San Francisco State University, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Museum of the Moving Image. When she’s not working with amazing clients you can find Skye warming up the dance floor, or growing food in the garden to chop up in the kitchen for friends and family.

Avery Cohen

Avery Cohen

U.S. Program Committee Member

Avery Cohen is a rising Junior at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. She grew up in Starkville, Mississippi, where she discovered her passion for social justice, specifically regarding gender and sexuality. She is a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Major with a minor in Studio Art. She is currently focused on wheel throwing and ceramic work, but she also enjoys conceptual art and artistic expressions of the female essence. She is eager to explore and create art that inspires social change, and to further the scope of Artists United through social media.

Vincent Cortez

Vincent Cortez

U.S. Program Committee Member

A storyteller, artist and craftsman, Vincent Cortez was born, raised and is still based in the diverse Fruitvale community of Oakland CA. At an early age, he developed a passion for filmmaking. Since graduating from SFSU’s Cinema Production program, and launching his own company, his films, as a producer and director, have garnered awards at both international and domestic film festivals (in both short and feature length categories).

His work has been distributed internationally and has aired on national television. Vincent prides himself on creating high concept/low budget films that blend and cross all genres, with character and story always at the forefront. His work on projects, like his debut feature “The Hush” (a 90 min. supernatural thriller shot for less than $8K), or his short dark fantasy film “Darkness of Night” (shot for around $1K and picked up by Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network) are just a few examples of his creativity and ability to craft compelling and engaging experiences.

Additionally, he has written articles for filmmaking publications, and spoken about film and creativity on panels and on public radio. Vincent also teaches filmmaking to at-risk youth, helping them find their stories from creative and technical standpoints. He currently runs his production company, Mitchell Street Pictures, building content of various styles, working alongside his wife and producing partner, Sofia L. Cortez, and spending time with their daughters.

Reynaldo Culannay

Reynaldo Culannay

U.S. Program Committee Member

Born in San Francisco and raised in the East Bay (Richmond), Reynaldo not only finds art as his passion but also sees it as the power to connect with others, share stories, and challenge perspectives. After graduating at Pitzer College as an Asian American Studies and Media Studies Double major, he is passionate to utilize his storytelling skills for communities affiliated to his queer, Pilipinx identity. He looks forwards to contribute his energy and expertise to further grow with the organization and within myself.

Christian Damian

Christian Damian

U.S. Program Committee Member

Collin Duddy

Collin Duddy

U.S. Program Committee Member

Collin Duddy is a self taught writer, filmmaker, producer, videographer, Youtube creator, social media personality, and lover of the arts. He has worked just about every job the Film Industry has to offer over his 12 year career, from PA all the way up to director.

He has worked with world famous artists Bruno Mars, Cody Simpson, AWOLNATION, and Midland, as well as collaborated with brands such as Yahoo, Red Bull Records, G H Bass, Urban Decay, AwesomenessTV and TooFaced Cosmetics. He recently started a production company, Waffsicle Productions, that currently has over 120k subscribers on Youtube and created the successful internet show “Last Minute Trips”, which he also directs and stars in. He is perhaps most famous for being an awesome husband, even better father, and will sorely miss the Raiders playing in Oakland.

Joseph East

Joseph East

US Program Committee Member

Joseph East is a filmmaker and freelance videographer residing in Atlanta, Georgia. He directed the documentary feature, I Will Dance, about a group of young people in Selma, Alabama defying statistics and challenging stereotypes through art. The film aired on PBS and toured with the Southern Circuit. Joseph has worked on the production team of numerous feature films, including the award-winning “Beautiful Boy” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. With the support of awesome collaborators, Joseph’s passion and pursuit is telling hard-hitting stories that move hearts and inspire positive change. When he puts the camera down, Joseph enjoys teaching film to kids, lighting people up with magic tricks, and spending time with his daughter.

AshEl Eldridge

AshEl Eldridge

U.S. Program Committee Member

AshEL ‘SeaSunZ’ Eldridge aka The Uber Rapper is the CEO of Earth Amplified Consulting, offering Creative Strategy for various entrepreneurs, startups, and non-profits. He is an adjunct professor of Climate Justice, Race, and Activism at SF State University, founder and performer with roots, rap, and reggae collective, Earth Amplified, and a vocalist with West African/West Oakland band Dogon Lights. He is a shamanic & plant based health coach and also teaches meditation, creativity, and manifestation principles for activists, creatives, and entrepreneurs.

Allah Elhenson

Allah Elhenson

U.S. Program Committee Member

Dulanie Ellis

Dulanie Ellis

U.S. Program Committee Member

Dulanie Ellis has been a filmmaker for the last 30 years. Beginning for many years as a Script Supervisor on feature films in Hollywood, she eventually turned to documentary filmmaking after the birth of her daughter. Dulanie was Associate Producer with Tell the Truth Pictures on five social justice documentaries. “Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000. These films led her to producing Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields, the compelling story of combat veterans who are being called to the land.

At a time when America is facing the loss of half of our farmers, and the challenges of climate change, veterans are stepping up to strengthen our food security one regenerative farm at a time. Ground Operations is both an award-winning film and a social action campaign that has been promoting veterans in Ag on a local and national level. It inspired a Ventura County veteran-to-farmer program as well as half a dozen other regional programs. Knowing that organic and regenerative agricultural practices can sequester carbon back into the soil and out of the atmosphere has been a prime driver of the Ground Operations marketing effort.

Rachel Ericsen

Rachel Ericsen

U.S. Program Committee Member

Rachel Ericsen grew up in Washington and California, the daughter of a Christian fundamentalist in one state and watering the backyard cannabis plants in the other. She has been a graphic designer, entrepreneur, vintage car enthusiast and passionate supporter of self-expression in all its forms. She spends her days exploring peoples attics, garages and underwear drawers looking for common threads in our collective family history possibly in an attempt to understand her own. She collects plants, books, paintings of animals and is constantly amazed by the beauty of little things.

Gina Fabiano

Gina Fabiano

U.S. Program Committee Member

Rocking Causes is the example of finding the thing you love and dedicating your life to it! A classically trained musician, converted jazz head and artist manager, Mrs. Fabiano has spent her life inspired by the creative spirit found in musicians, artists and entrepreneurs. With a successful track record for launching new initiatives, she has helped CEO’s of tech-start-ups, inventors of new products and services as well as talented musicians, identify and connect with their audiences through strategic marketing and positioning.

As the former Co-Founder and CEO of Go Baby, an award-winning baby accessory company, Mrs. Fabiano knows first hand what it takes to initiate and execute a new business in today’s marketplace. Having learned best practices from years in supporting roles such as the incubator Echoing Green and results driven hedge fund at Morgan Stanley, Mrs. Fabiano has honed her skills as an effective communicator, networker and leader.

Having worked for over a decade in jazz with master trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and his manager, Ed Arrendell, Mrs. Fabiano has extensive experience running the day to day responsibilities of a career musician. Mrs. Fabiano was instrumental in the launch of the grammy award-winning singer, Cecile McLorin Salvant having a prominent seat among the talented group that launched her extremely successful career.

Andrew Fearnside

Andrew Fearnside

U.S. Program Committee Member

Andrew Fearnside is a New Mexico painter guided by ongoing interests in psychology, pop culture and spiritual life. After completing a BFA in painting and drawing at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in his native Boston, he made paintings and performances and found work as a designer, dancer, teacher and psychotherapist. He has shown with Bryce Hample at the Open Space Visitor Center, and with Gail Gering at Page Coleman Gallery. He has been juried into group shows in Denver and the Houston area, and has won awards for his work. He has had solo shows at Zendo, Winning Coffee, and the Erna Ferguson Library in Albuquerque. 

Tom Fleisher

Tom Fleisher

U.S. Program Committee Member

Thomas Fleisher earned his BFA at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Many of his credits were earned doing independent study in Brussels, Belgium, where he worked with established painter and photographer, Antonino von Hoerde. Upon graduation, with a degree emphasizing photography, he was picked from dozens of candidates to do work for Northwest Airlines (now Delta), on a nearly two-year project which sent him around the world to add to the airline’s photo library.

Thomas has served on several non-profit boards, is a contributing photographer for Compete Magazine, and is currently serving, along with his husband (married for the last five of their 14 years together), Ken Hoffman, on the Phoenix Unified Gay Bowling Alliance, a non-profit organization serving LGBTQandA bowlers around the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Nena Gilreath

Nena Gilreath

U.S. Program Committee Member

Ms. Gilreath will utilize her collective knowledge of the art of dance and business in her new position as the Facility Supervisor of East Athens Educational Dance Center. After 29 years of service the Program’s Founder and long time Supervisor Lois Thomas-Ewing’s retired. After 29 years of service in the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts region primarily as the Cofounder of Ballethnic Dance Company; Ms. Gilreath embraced this opportunity for expanding her artistic reach and vision. This is a natural progression for Ms. Gilreath as she has been an invited guest artist and guest instructor throughout the history EAEDC.

She has previously worked closely with Founder Lois Thomas-Ewings to bring Urban Nutcracker Act II to the Morton Theatre in the 1990’s. It was an overwhelming collaborative success bringing together EAEDC, Ballethnic and the UGA Ballet Ensemble. Ms. Gilreath is delighted to help guide the legacy of Ms. Thomas-Ewings into the future, as they share a synergistic vision of creating community through the arts and providing access for all citizens. She looks forward to connecting the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts scene more closely with the Athens Clarke County arts, nature and cultural scene.

EAEDC is a 15,500 square foot SPLOST-funded dance center that opened in 2005. It has three state of the art dance studios and a 5,000 square foot multipurpose area designed to be a black box performance space. The building is the first Athens Clarke County government building designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environment Design Standards (LEED). Ms. Gilreath is excited to help build a stronger dance program, enhance programming and strengthen the facility offerings. She will achieve this by blending her collective relationships, regionally and nationally. Although she will no longer serve as the Executive Director of Ballethnic Dance Company she will continue in her visionary role as Executive Artistic Director.

Gary Graef

Gary Graef

U.S. Program Committee Member

A musician for more than half a century who supports and dabbles in artistic mediums beyond the audio, Gary’s creativity is bountiful. Now retired from a city municipal career he spends a great part of his time laying down tracks and searching opportunities to play live music. Acoustic and electric guitar, electric and upright bass, piano, mandolin and drums are all instruments to which he is well acquainted. Gary enjoys the natural wonders of this world, taking hikes and soaking in beautiful sunsets; most of all he is a lover of the sea.

Dallas Graham

Dallas Graham

U.S. Program Committee Member

Dallas Graham is the circle putting the Red Fred Project together. He created Red Fred and his Jolly Troop in 2010 and has been telling stories with them ever since. He enjoys photojournalism, graphic design, and discovering creative ways of connecting people through their stories. Dallas has produced a number of personal and community driven projects and can’t seem to turn off his “idea” switch. The Red Fred Project is a culmination of his favorite things: narratives, hope, and children.

Joe Graham

Joe Graham

U.S. Program Committee Member

Joseph Graham grew up in St. Louis, MO, where he began making films before the age of ten. Although unable to attend film school, after relocating to California he began to produce and direct both award-winning feature films and shorts, including animated commercials for MTV, while winning accolades for direction and performance.

In 2015 the Reeling International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival presented their coveted “Best Actor” award to the entire ensemble of his second feature, “Beautiful Something” – a first in the festival’s thirty-plus-year history. Meanwhile, Joseph has also stage-managed, lit and directed more than a dozen theatrical productions, and written scripts on assignment. After working on gay-themed independent films he has chosen to focus on horror, with his next picture set to begin production in the fall of 2017.

Michael Grais

Michael Grais

U.S. Program Committee Member

Nick Grewal

Nick Grewal

U.S. Program Committee Member

Karen Grier

Karen Grier

U.S. Program Committee Member

Karen Grier was born in Northfield, MN and has also lived in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Florida, and New Mexico. After a year at Winona State University and another at the University of Minnesota, Karen ended up at the Omaha (NE) Public School of Practical Nursing. She started her nursing career when she was 19 and has worked in various settings such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, private duty, and in prisons for many years.

Karen’s main craft is needlepoint work, which she started when her mother-in-law gave her a needlepoint picture of an apple tree for Christmas. Karen had never done anything like that before, but she taught herself. She also knits. She currently lives in Albuquerque, NM with her calico cat, Olivia, and her always-smiling Bedlington terrier, Sophie.

Julie Hwang

Julie Hwang

U.S. Program Committee Member

Nicholas Kane

Nicholas Kane

U.S. Program Committee Member

Nicholas Kane is a filmmaker currently based in Oakland, CA. He studied filmmaking at Idyllwild Arts Academy and the Los Angeles Film School where he focused on narrative and documentary filmmaking. Promptly after, he began working in various capacities as a filmmaker in Los Angeles. After 3 years of professional work he returned to school at Hampshire College where he majored in ethnomusicology and documentary filmmaking. For his final project he created a film about the House and Techno music scene in Paris, France which began his ‘Microcosm’ film series chronicling electronic music internationally. His current projects continue to focus on music, culture and community, bringing him to San Francisco, Croatia and Moldova.

Alfred P. Kielwasser

Alfred P. Kielwasser

U.S. Program Committee Member

Alfred Kielwasser is a media activist and educator. He has written numerous articles, for both academic and popular publications, that explore the influence of media on marginalized groups. Al has taught at San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco, and currently teaches Cinema Studies courses at Solano College; his courses have focused on film and television images of homelessness, gender, ethnicity and the LGBTQ community. He has worked with various community organizations over the years and has served on the Executive Board of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and chaired the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). He currently chairs the Board of Directors of Media Alliance. Media Alliance was formed in 1976 and is dedicated to fostering a genuine diversity of media voices and perspectives, holding the media accountable for their impact on society and protecting freedom of speech.

Frank Kuzler

Frank Kuzler

U.S. Program Committee Member

Frank Kuzler is the Executive Director at DecadesOut, a non-profit production and arts collective based in New York City. He is also lead Creative Producer at Dedalus VII a digital content and film production company. Frank has dedicated his career to the arts and sciences, particularly theatre and film. A strong believer in the expression of new ideas, Frank has built the foundation of his work developing projects that have a fresh perspective while advocating for social progress.

Frank recently co-produced the indie feature Easy Living which had its world premiere at the 2017 South by Southwest (SxSW) Film Festival. He also produced Rain which had its world premiere at the renowned Toronto International Film Festival in 2008. Rain garnered much praise as the first narrative film to explore drug addiction and family in the Bahamas. He holds a BA from Manhattan College, a Juris Doctorate degree, is a member of the New York State Bar, and most recently became a fellow of the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminar.

Lee Labov

Lee Labov

U.S. Program Committee Member

Lee Labov is a student who grew up in Berkeley, California. She has always had a passion for art, movies, comics, and books. Lee is currently a rising sophomore at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA and is excited to work with Artists United and the youth committee. She looks forward to watching the organization grow and helping to unite artists to create great art and social change.

Jeska Lapin

Jeska Lapin

U.S. Program Committee Member

Native to the Bay, Jeska has been working in the Bay Area Film Industry doing Props/Fabrication, Set Dressing/Building and Production Design for over 19 years. Growing up with a very artistically talented mom and a highly skilled carpenter dad, she feels very fortunate to have the best of these two worlds: precision and creativity!

She loves the art of story-telling through aesthetics, thinking outside the box and creating the details that make you want to look twice. She has a strong value and appreciation for every medium and for culture and diversity, while working with like-minded people. Her ultimate goal is to combine these skills and her passion for helping the community. Advocating for animal and human rights are extremely important in her life. She also loves exploring new ideas and places, spending time with her family and friends and most especially, laughing! She’s very excited to be a part of Artists United where the collaboration of all walks of life are celebrated.

Marc LaPorte

Marc LaPorte

U.S. Program Committee Member

Marc LaPorte has lived, recorded and performed music in and around New Orleans for over 20 years. He’s also been on the booking/manager end for various bands throughout the area (Metronome The City, Kuwaisiana, Steve Eck & the Midnight Still, etc.). Having attended Loyola University of New Orleans for Creative Writing, Marc’s found himself working on the writing and editing end for websites, brochures and other marketing materials.

He’s also worked on more extensive academic anthologies, edited magazines, published articles on Jazz and Martial Arts, and worked on the web maintenance end for multiple websites. He works as a Tai Chi/Qigong instructor and has studied those healing modalities both in New Orleans and with Mantak Chia out of the Tao Gardens in Northern Thailand.

He has trained with him and his senior instructors out of Chinatown, New York and Boston. These practices help to tune into one’s physical and mental awareness, are excellent for stress relief, heightened immune function, lowering blood pressure, healing headaches and other pain, combating anxiety, insomnia and inflammation.

Erika Little

Erika Little

U.S. Program Committee Member

Erika Little lives in Portland Oregon and has been a long time member of the arts and activist community in Portland and the SF Bay Area. She is a three-time award-winning Soprano with an eclectic musical background in new and traditional opera, as well as ambient and various collaborative projects – A soloist, voice-over artist, actor in training and a sometimes-inspired writer and composer … Erika has worked as background actor for the film Feast of Love – Dir. Robert Benton and for Grimm, Season 6.

Studio contributions include; El Mozote, A Tribute to El Salvador by Juan Carlos Mendizobal, Better Red than Dead – benefit album for AK Press, Enemy of the Sun – album by NEUROSIS, Harvestman – album by Steve Von Till, Voiceover on Changing Room – film by Holly Million, and narrative recordings for more than 100 Hotel and Motel clients. Most recent operatic roles include; Rose Beuret in Theresa Koon’s Promise – An Opera About the Life of Camille Claudel, and Mrs. Jenks in Copland’s The Tenderland.

Erika is a soloist for Opera for the Hesitant sponsored by FOCM, Portland and is a chorus member in Portland Summerfest’s Opera in the Park free concerts series, Dir. Keith Clarke. She has also sung with West Bay Opera and California Bach Society choruses. Erika became interested in grant writing and fundraising while working at Golden Poppy Productions in San Francisco and has a strong desire to lend her skills to bring inspired projects to fruition, and to help one another achieve our wildest dreams in the spirit of conscience and collaboration.

PK Livingston

PK Livingston

U.S. Program Committee Member

Frank Lopez

Frank Lopez

U.S. Program Committee Member

Frank Lopez is a massage and bodywork entrepreneur and teacher who left the corporate world and his role as a Marketing Director at Top 10 San Francisco Law Firm to pursue a vocation more immediately connected to active participation in community. A life-long writer of poetry and short stories, Frank now spends much of his time creating eco-art from shells, leaves, branches, rocks and many thing else Nature cares to lay in his path. He sees art as critical tool for fostering positive social change, most recently underlined by his participation as a judge in Youth Speaks Poetry Slam. Frank believes art should be shared daily among friends family, transitory and passing, rather than always held aloft as a “permanent” thing to be viewed or witnessed apart from daily life.

Danielle LoPresti

Danielle LoPresti

U.S. Program Committee Member

Danielle LoPresti is an American musician, actress and activist. She is the lead singer of Danielle LoPresti and The Masses, an activist rock band out of San Diego, CA, and is the co-founder and producer of San Diego IndieFest.

Amanda Lynch

Amanda Lynch

U.S. Program Committee Member

Kathryn Machi

Kathryn Machi

U.S. Program Committee Member

Kathryn Machi, d/b/a ViviLu Productions, writes screenplays and stories that provide strong female role models embracing a holistic and culturally diverse relationship between the arts and community, for international audiences ages 12 to 92. A longtime dance devotee, Kathryn conceived her two dance-based scripts, FIREBIRD and BUZZ, when, as the recipient of Native American and University Women scholarships, and while nurturing a family and helming a holistic healing practice, she returned to SF State to earn her MFA in Fiction and Screenwriting.

Kathryn’s TV series concept, JUNE ROSE, is based on her eponymous short story chronicling an Anglo/Cherokee woman’s journey from 1950s suburban housewife to early ‘70s feminist and social justice activist. A dual American-French citizen, and a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Kathryn has two grown children, and lives with her French-American husband, a seafood sustainability partner, in San Francisco, CA.

Veronica May

Veronica May

U.S. Program Committee Member

Veronica May is a unique talent, equally skilled and adventurous on guitars (acoustic and electric) as she is in her dynamic vocal style. Her original songs reflect themes of compassion, imagination and living exuberantly with courage and humor. Living mindfully with Bipolar 1 Disorder and serving as a Music Therapist have given May valuable understandings she shares in service for all who navigate that difficult terrain. Her music awakens the mind, opens the heart, and brings new clarity to our shared human experiences.

William Moreland

William Moreland

U.S. Program Committee Member

Jennifer Myronuk

Jennifer Myronuk

U.S. Program Committee Member

Jen Myronuk is a filmmaker, public historian, and immersive media producer specializing in living history theater and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). She is the co-founder and producer of STEM on Stage, a fiscally sponsored public media initiative to promote science through the arts. Jen is the Producer & Director of the film Humanity Needs Dreamers: A Visit With Marie Curie, currently in preview screenings ahead of a national speaking tour. She has previously produced live stage productions of MANYA: The Living History of Marie and A Visit with Marie Curie for MIT STEAM Week, University of Arizona, Boston Center for the Arts, Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, Victoria Theatre, NASA Ames Research Center & the California STEM Learning Network’s Annual Summit. She was the co-producer and director of Code4Rights, a video training series to code mobile apps for social impact. She produced and directed the living history play Mosaic: Voices of Women’s Suffrage, performed at the Denver University Club, National Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Weekend in 2011, and the Los Gatos Opera House. She was formerly the Community Outreach & Associate Director of Filmmakers Collaborative, a Boston-based nonprofit serving independent films. She serves on the board of Women in Film and Video of New England. 

Matt Nelson

Matt Nelson

U.S. Program Committee Member

Matt Nelson genuinely is thrilled and honored to be invited to join Artists United and to serve on the United U.S. Program Committee. Being associated with others who value art over commerce is exciting after a 12-year solo effort writing about classic, cult-classic, indie, and vintage films and television programs. His new site Mattnelsonreviews.com (a.k.a Unreal TV 2.0) continues the labor of love that has evolved from writing for a corporate website that blatantly stated that writing about DVD releases of “TV Land shows” did not generate enough hits to warrant a post. Matt spent his elementary-school and junior-high weekdays watching afternoon sitcom reruns. Sundays meant leifmotif marathons of old movies on the local UHF station. This led to discovering an actual art-house theater in the New Wave cinema era that coincided with prep. school days. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place on being one degree of separation from legendary Boston film critic Joyce Kulhawik by taking every film-studies course (including one twice) at his college. A desire to make the world a little better led to law school; related desires to not contend with the many flaws in the U.S. legal system and to avoid toxic work environments led to a successful legal publishing career with companies such as Reuters and Lexis-Nexis. A massive consolidation in that industry (and the aforementioned commerce-driven site) led to Matt writing about what he wants while his long-haired tuxedo cat Sebastian snoozes in his lap or in the kitty bed on the window seat in his Boston-area home office. Matt encourages like-minded folks to e-mail him at tvdvdguy@gmail.com.

Virginia Newcomb

Virginia Newcomb

U.S. Program Committee Member

Virginia Newcomb is constantly creating as a performer, filmmaker, & visual artist. Her acting work spans all media from indie features (Reparation,The Atoning) to working alongside talents like Cillian Murphy and Susan Sarandon (Peacock) and directors Jason Reitman (THE OFFICE) and Reed Morano (HALT & CATCH FIRE). She has performed in numerous plays on the west coast while 2014 held Virginia’s Broadway debut in Jay Scheib’s live cinema production of Platonov, or The Disinherited which live streamed to Time Square and BAM.

This innovative style of theatre continues to inspire Virginia’s work, most recently as creator of the Cuclaorus Film Festival’s annual commissioned Blue Velvet installation, Bus To Lumberton. Virginia stars in AU board member, Whit Hamilton’s, UNION (a Civil War epic which filmed in their home state of Alabama).

In her first film as producer, Virginia breaks type as a young female Marine Veteran in Three Finger – currently enjoying a successful festival run having been honored with several jury prizes. Her role as filmmaker continues to expand while seeking bold, evocative artists and thriving in collaborative risk taking projects that portray women honestly and adequately, particularly in nontraditional southern narrative.

Krisi Olivero

Krisi Olivero

U.S. Program Committee Member

Krisi Olivero is a Producer/Writer based in Denver, CO that enjoys working on projects around the globe. From fiction to advertising to documentary, Krisi wears many hats, focusing on team collaboration and finding strengths and efficiencies wherever she goes. She believes that you succeed in both work and life, when you dedicate as much passion as you can, while being as creative as you can possibly imagine and always treating others with the utmost kindness and respect. Her daily focus is on telling stories that matter. She has worked with clients such as ABC, ESPN, Discovery, History, the United States Olympic Committee and many more. She holds a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Writing for Film and Television from The University of Colorado Denver and a Masters of Fine Arts in Serialized Storytelling from the Internationale Filmschule Köln.

Bill Parker

Bill Parker

U.S. Program Committee Member

Kyle Parker

Kyle Parker

U.S. Program Committee Member

Kyle “Kage” Parker is a hybrid creative designer with experience in motion graphics, animation & film, graphic design and brand identity. He has worked for a variety of companies in Atlanta, including CNN International, Public Broadcasting Atlanta, Crawford Media Services, WNBA’s Atlanta Dream; and is currently the lead Motion Graphics & Video Artist for JLL, a Fortune 500 company. In 2012, he joined the upstart of ChopArt, a non-profit providing art-enrichment and empowerment for youth in homeless situations. He currently holds a position on the ChopArt Advisory Board. Kyle is a graduate of Oglethorpe University and holds a Master’s degree in Animation from Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shabnam Piryael

Shabnam Piryael

U.S. Program Committee Member

Shabnam Piryaei is the author of ODE TO FRAGILE (Plain View Press, 2010), FORWARD (MUSEUM Books, 2014), and NOTHING IS WASTED (forthcoming). She has been awarded the Poets & Writers Amy Award, the Transport of the Aim Poetry Prize, the Brain Mill Press Editors’ Choice, the Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Grant and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grant.

Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published (or is forthcoming) in journals and anthologies including Poets & Writers Magazine, The Awl, MUSEUM, Unsaid, Commonthought Magazine, The Florida Review, Flashquake, The Furnace Review, “Mapping Me: A Landscape of Women’s Stories” (Maymuna Productions), “WOC Anthology: Boundaries & Borders,” and “Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America” (Black Lawrence Press).

Her play “A Time to Speak” was staged at the MAD Theatre Festival in the United Kingdom. She has also written for the Global Post and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She has written and directed three award-winning films that have screened in the U.S. at numerous film festivals.

Barbara Pisick

Barbara Pisick

U.S. Program Committee Member

As a Psychotherapist, her work focus over the past 30 years has been Past Life Regression Therapy. The overarching theme of this work is based on a belief in reincarnation, helping people to understand that we are all here for a reason, our life purpose, in order to make social change. The result of this powerful work is documented in her newly published book , “You Were Here Before, Why Are You Here Now? Experiences Of A Past Life Regression Therapist.”

Wendy Ploger

Wendy Ploger

U.S. Program Committee Member

Born and raised in Southern California, a job change for Wendy’s father took her and her family to Maryland where she received her bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Returning to California, she worked for a military publisher for five years, illustrating and designing guidebooks for bases around the U.S. – only to return to the east coast where she became art director for a nonprofit in Washington D.C. and served on the board of directors for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Fund with emphasis on it’s branding, website and production of a documentary.

In pursuit of her love of photography, Wendy moved to New York City. Primarily a portrait and event photographer, her work has been exhibited in galleries all over the U.S. as well as featured on the New York Times website, Guest of a Guest, the New York Press and other online publications. In addition to living on both coasts (twice), her travels have also taken her all over the world, including the countries of Germany, Mexico, France, England, Turkey, Poland, Japan, Thailand, Israel, Greece and Italy.

Lise Porter

Lise Porter

U.S. Program Committee Member

Lise Porter is an actor, writer, speaker, and licensed psychotherapist living in Los Angeles. In addition to her film work, she has contributed extensively to the mental health field and speaks nation-wide. She has been published twice in the International Journal for the Arts in Psychotherapy, writing on the topic of drama therapy. Her book, Own Your Life: How Our Wounds Become Our Gifts is available on Amazon. You can learn more about her at www.liseporter.com or books.liseporter.com.

Linda Poznansky

Linda Poznansky

U.S. Program Committee Member

Linda is the Creative Producer and one of the Founding members of the Storytellers Academy (www.tomschlesinger.com).She lives by Walt Disney’s quote, ”That’s what Storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” Linda lives to create, inspire and evolve.

Kween Pusey

Kween Pusey

U.S. Program Committee Member

THE H.A.P.I. SHOW together with assistant Kween, is originally from Brooklyn,New York. was a member of Izulu Dance Theater. The company performed authentic dance from South Africa. Kween was member of Calabash Dance Co.performed traditional dance from West Africa and Brazil. Kween studied traditional Belly Dancing also instructs dance workshops for youth ages 5-11 and adults. Kween is a children’s entertainer/ storyteller.

Tracey Quezada

Tracey Quezada

U.S. Program Committee Member

Based in Oakland, CA, Tracey Quezada is a documentary filmmaker, editor, and journalist with more than a decade of experience. She currently owns and operates a full-service media production company that works with educational institutions and nonprofits to produce short documentaries that advance their missions and policy goals. Her clients include University of California, Berkeley, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, New York Hall of Science, among others.

As a journalist, Quezada has covered stories on immigration, communities of faith, women’s issues, and LGBTQ civil rights. Her work has received support from the Columbia Foundation, Atlassian Foundation and The Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund. In 2014, she was recognized by the San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival for her achievements in media and activism.

Reenie Raschke

Reenie Raschke

US Program Committee

Reenie Raschke is a photographer located in the Oakland Hills. She runs and works a studio, documenting writers, artists, families, lovers, and celebrities. Very involved in Oakland politics and history, Reenie is an active docent at an 1876 Victorian resting at the base of Lake Merritt. In response to the Women’s March of 2017, Reenie is currently working on her next book, “Goddesses of the Bay Area.” 

Renee Richardson

Renee Richardson

U.S. Program Committee Member

Renee Richardson is best known for her on-air work at KFOG radio in San Francisco. Her 17 year radio career led her to becoming a curator of music, especially in support of artists living in the S.F. Bay Area. Currently Renee is Director of Development for Blue Bear School of Music – a non-profit school that has been teaching people to play the music they love since 1971. She is a SAG/AFTRA commercial VO artist. You can also hear Renee on Sunday’s as she has joined the staff at Wine Country Radio, KRSH. And, as a Missouri School of Auction trained auctioneer with 7 years experience, she’s always eager to help raise money for other non-profits!

Jed Riffe

Jed Riffe

U.S. Program Committee Member

Jed Riffe is an award-winning director, producer, writer and transmedia storyteller. Over the last twenty years, Riffe produced eleven nationally broadcast public television specials, series and more that 100 short videos and interactive programs for traveling and permanent museum and university installations. He is best known as the director of the award-winning films “Ishi, the Last Yahi,” the true story of the man known as the Last Wild Indian in North America; “Who Owns the Past?,” the American Indian struggle for control of their ancestral remains; “California’s ‘Lost’ Tribes” which examines the impact of Indian gaming on Native Americans and their non-Indian neighbors; and the first documentary on the medical marijuana movement “Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine and the Law.”

Riffe developed and served as series producer on the nationally broadcast, independently produced public television series “California and the American Dream.” Riffe’s interactive credits include producer and video director of the Africana interactive Studies Center at Merritt College; interactive producer/writer for four interactive exhibits for the Autry National center of the American West, and interactive producer and writer for the award-winning “Public Broadcasting In Public Places.” He is honored to be both a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow/Alumni and a 2001 Gerbode Fellow for Excellence in Non-Profit Management.

Dave Room

Dave Room

U.S. Program Committee Member

Dave Room, Co-Founder/CEO. Dave’s most important identifier is Melia’s Papa. His teenage daughter Melia is his joy and inspiration. Since receiving a B.S. and M.S. in Engineering from Stanford University, Room has worked on the innovative edge of a number of emergent fields including yield management, environmental performance measurement, intranet development, ecommerce software and renewable energy.

In the process, he had leadership roles in several tech startups and a non profit he co-founded called Bay Localize. With the intention to uplift tens of millions of children worldwide, Room co-founded BALANCE Edutainment, co-authored Pacha’s Pajamas: A Story Written By Nature and executive produced the nine-award winning companion album.

Dave has coined the term “The Awakening Journey” as a modern alternative to the Hero’s Journey, and is actively participating in the AR/VR for Good conversations. Dave is an Active Dreaming teacher, a SoulCollage® Facilitator and a Green For All fellow. Check out his blog at MeliasPapa.com. Twitter: @meliaspapa.

Lisa Sahakian

Lisa Sahakian

U.S. Program Committee Member

Hi my name is Lisa Sahakian. I am 24 and was born and raised in the City of Angels for the first 23 years of my life. I am an Armenian/Irish mutt and recently moved to SF to explore creative opportunities. I spend most of my free time right now re-learning piano, boxing, and playing around with my film camera. My personal photography website can be found at cargocollective.com/sahakian

Elida Scola

Elida Scola

U.S. Program Committee Member

Elida Scola is the owner of Galleria Scola. Since 1983 the shop has been on Grand Avenue in Oakland, CA. Her hand crafted frames can be seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and in fine local homes and businesses throughout the San Francisco Bay area. She has written for Picture Framing Magazine, Decor and Art World News. She has taught classes for the Professional Picture Framers Association and conducted demonstrations at trade shows.

Irina Shamsotinov

Irina Shamsotinov

U.S. Program Committee Member

Annie Smathers

Annie Smathers

U.S. Program Committee Member

Ann’s main hobbies are leather working, writing, singing/songwriting, and arts and crafts in general (“Jackie of all trades and master of none”). She made her own guitar straps. In 2009, she won 2nd Place in Paranormal Underground Magazine’s Short Fiction Contest. She also has a huge passion for history and got her BA in Dec. 2000 from the University of New Mexico.

She used to work as an office manager/transcriptionist for a clinical neuropsychologist where she loved meeting all kinds of people, had many opportunities to help them, and wants to continue serving others in whatever new ways she can. She is a native of Albuquerque, NM and in her spare time, she loves cuddling her best friend’s dog, whom she calls her “fur niece”, a blue Bedlington terrier who smiles a lot.

Robert HAPI Smith

Robert HAPI Smith

U.S. Program Committee Member

‘H.A.P.I’ is a character acto, vocalist, storyteller, performing artist, musician, and does movies on stage and film, commercials, voice/overs, singer and song writer. A member of S.A.G. and master of ceremonies in the movie Swing, played bongos in Will Smith’s movie “Pursuit of Happiness” and many others. H.A.P.I. is artistic executive director and founder of M.I.N.D. THEATER PRODUCTIONS. H.A.P.I. is founder, director, host,film and set/design of San Francisco’s access BAVC. S.F.COMMONS TV SHOW for eleven years.

Michael Stoll

Michael Stoll

U.S. Program Committee Member

Michael Stoll has been a writer, editor and journalism educator for more than 20 years. He is the executive director and editor of the San Francisco Public Press, an award-winning, independent nonprofit local newspaper and website based on the public broadcasting model. He has covered local news for the Hartford Courant, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Examiner, and contributed freelance work to Columbia Journalism Review, Earth Island Journal, SF Weekly, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Quill, the Christian Science Monitor, the San Jose Mercury News, the Miami Herald, E/The Environmental Magazine, San Francisco Magazine and SF Weekly.

While getting a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University, he reported as a stringer for the Metro section of the New York Times. He has taught journalism at the University of San Francisco and San Jose State University. In the mid-2000s he researched media ethics at Grade the News, a project of the Stanford Department of Communications.

Kristina Stolting

Kristina Stolting

U.S. Program Committee Member

Kristina grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains, migrating to the Bay Area to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Graduating with a degree in fashion design from FIDM in San Francisco, Kristina went on to gain experience in design, merchandising, and most recently product development. Working for large scale brands in the retail industry has also developed her strong business acumen. Her passions include sketching, music, crafting, thrifting, and collecting records.

Jennifer Thibodeaux

Jennifer Thibodeaux

U.S. Program Committee Member

Gypsy, visual artist, mother, partner, women and children’s advocate, administrative aficionado, doula, passionate learner, volunteer, knitter, residential painter, storyteller, massage therapist, reflexologist who can throw pots and serve great food in them.  Originally from Louisiana Jen has lived in most regions of the US or at least visited them for extended periods of time.  In her travels she has created a world-wide family that she intends to continue to expand.

Melisa Tien

Melisa Tien

U.S. Program Committee Member

Melisa Tien is a New York-based playwright focused on formally groundbreaking, socially relevant, emotionally engaging work. She is a member of New Dramatists and a NYFA Fellow in Playwriting/Screenwriting. She has been a MacDowell Colony fellow and a Women’s Project Lab member playwright. She was a Leah Ryan Prize finalist, a Jerome New York Fellowship finalist, a Princess Grace Award finalist, and a Weissberger Award nominee.

Michael Swaigen

Michael Swaigen

U.S. Program Committee Member

Michael Swaigen has approached a wide range of narratives, commercials, documentaries, branded content, and music videos with the goal of bringing the underlying message of each film to the forefront of the viewer’s mind. A beautiful shot is only defined as one that is right for the project, one that is appropriate to the story.

In 2014, Michael received the annual ARRI Volker Bahnemann Award for Cinematography based on his recent body of work. Coming from a background in editing, Michael emphasizes the importance of preparing a film so that it will not only be visually striking, but will also cut together as a cohesive work of art.

With this in mind, he concentrates his energy on grasping directors’ visions, collaborating with them unwaveringly from early on in pre-production until the final cut. Michael Swaigen is currently in production shooting various projects throughout North America.

Manuel Tsingaris

Manuel Tsingaris

U.S. Program Committee Member

Manuel Adrian Tsingaris has been an editor for over twenty years. Most recently he edited the feature documentary, Alive Inside, which won the US Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sundance 2014. He also was an Editor on The Latino Americans, a 6-hour PBS mini-series retelling US history through a Latin lens which won a Peabody Award, and Purgatorio, which premiered at the Guadalajara International Film Festival.

Long Gone won Best Documentary at Slamdance, and China Blue was an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Amnesty International Human Rights Award at IDFA in Amsterdam. A Dream in Doubt received a Grand Jury Honorable Mention Award at Slamdance. Writ Writer was an official selection at SXSW 2008 and aired on Independent Lens on PBS. DOGTOWN REDEMPTION aired on Independent Lens in early 2016. Other past work includes The Rugby Player, Uncle Gloria and A Test of Courage.

Eric Vollweiler

Eric Vollweiler

U.S. Program Committee Member

Eric is based in Upstate NY and has been producing and marketing film festivals, conferences, movie premieres, parties at major film festivals and concerts in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Utah, Connecticut, Boston, New Jersey, Manhattan, Albany and Buffalo since 2005. Some of Erics Credits include the Saratoga Springs International Film Festival, New York State International Film Festival, Winter Film Awards Indie Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival, Boston International Film Festival, Silicon Beach Film Festival, Seal Beach Film Festival, Marina del Rey Film Festival, San Pedro International Film Festival and Artemis Woman in Action Film Festival.

Renu Vora

Renu Vora

U.S. Program Committee Member

Renu Vora co-produced critically acclaimed feature film The Wisdom Tree working with over 150 artists and technicians spanning four continents. In addition, Renu has edited 20+ films, which include feature film, shorts, documentaries, promotional films, corporate films, and TV commercials.

In addition, as a multimedia graphics designer, she has had the opportunity to design web experiences and marketing collaterals for ABC Networks, NBC, Revolution Studios, Bravo, Miramax, Game Show Networks, Lions Gate Films, Martha Stewart, PayPal, Symantec, Dell, and General Dynamics to name a few. She won two awards for leading an innovative product idea at PayPal.

Michael Wallace

Michael Wallace

U.S. Program Committee Member

Born in the Pacific Northwest, nature forces are forever in his designs. Michael now resides in San Leandro of the San Francisco East Bay. He is President of the Hayward Arts Council and primary motivator for the Tuux team. If you haven’t heard about Tuux, it is a mobile app and tool that will help people use ART to change the world.

Renia Webb

Renia Webb

U.S. Program Committee Member

Renia is an artist, activist, singer/songwriter, instructor, model, maker, organizer & mother of four lovely children. She is an Oakland, CA native who is actively involved in the Oakland Community & in the neighborhood where she sits on various boards & committees. She serves on Oakland’s city-wide Community Policing Advisory Board, the Hoover Resident Action Council, Oakland Unified School Districts Kitchen Project Advisory Committee as well as various committee within Oakland Rotary.

Most recently having worked on her first Global Grant through Rotary International. Because of her tireless efforts, she was awarded a C. Stuckey World Community Service Scholarship & will be attending her first Global Project Fair in El Salvador in Jan 2017.

Renia currently works as a Marketplace & Community Engagement Manager, in this role, she coordinates the implementation & programming of a community market which supports local micro & social businesses, with a focus on arts, cultural, music & inclusiveness. Renia is committed to empowering & uplifting others.

Mike Weybret

Mike Weybret

U.S. Program Committee Member

Michael Weybret is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer from California. As the descendent of a long line of journalists and outdoorsmen, Michael’s work shows a hunger for truth, honesty, and a love of all things wild. In 2014 he left Los Angeles to live nomadically and spent the next two years in a 1982 Toyota Chinook writing and photographing his way through the American Countryside. Now living in Encinitas, CA, Michael is looking forward to spending more time on his various passion projects, most notably in documentary film.

Starr Wilson

Starr Wilson

U.S. Program Committee Member

Starr is currently updating cinema, photography, and broadcast arts production at City College of San Francisco. She did ten years of directing and producing radio and television programming in San Francisco at Public Access in the ‘80s. Wilson is presently in preproduction for a feature film as a producer/director/writer. She is nearing the end of her classes at City College and ready to embark into the field as an independent producer/director. To see her work and resume, go to www.starrwilsonproductions.wordpress.com.

Maya Wise

Maya Wise

U.S. Program Committee Member

Maya Wise is a writer and creative professional based in San Francisco. She’s worked in communications, PR and marketing for a wide variety of global clients with a focus on healthcare and health advocacy. Through her work, she uses communication in all forms – written, verbal, visual – to build bridges that expand understanding and strengthen connections between people. Currently, Maya is exploring the use of film to share stories that shed light on the universalities of the human experience and remind us of the importance of human (and nature) connection. She believes in the power of creativity, self-expression and open minds working together. When she’s not at her desk, Maya can be found exploring the redwoods and beaches of northern California and volunteering for local film festivals.

Suzanne Yada

Suzanne Yada

U.S. Program Committee Member

Suzanne Yada has spoken at sold-out panels across the United States about social media, storytelling, education and entrepreneurship. As the CEO of yadaCreative Digital Marketing, she guides clients big and small through the overwhelm of online marketing. She is the founder of Signal Boost Collective, where marketing professionals gather to help creatives and changemakers be seen. She is also passionate about mindfulness, social justice, technology and creativity, and she blends those passions together as singer-songwriter @ Little Spiral @, where she explores what it means to be a human in an increasingly digital world.

Alfredo Vergara-Lobo

Alfredo Vergara-Lobo

Advisory Board Member

With backgrounds in education, social work, organizational change, and systems coaching, Alfredo brings years of experience with nonprofit and public entities domestically and abroad to his work with organizations and individuals. He received his MSW from the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley and his BA from San Francisco State University. An expert in nonprofit partnerships, he was a founding consultant for the Strategic Solutions project, a national initiative to advance the field of nonprofit partnerships and fine tune knowledge and practice in that area.

Throughout his tenures as senior consultant at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and La Piana Associates, Alfredo has trained, coached, and consulted with hundreds of nonprofits, businesses, foundations, and government entities domestically and abroad, in English and in Spanish. His areas of expertise include strategic and business planning, board development, strategic partnerships, leadership development, succession planning, cultural competency, systems coaching, and organizational assessment, restructuring, and transformation.