Stories that celebrate the human spirit

September 26-30th, 2018

STORIES THAT CELEBRATE THE HUMAN SPIRIT

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Attending Filmmakers

Attending Filmmakers

Attending Filmmakers

Attending Filmmakers

           
Benjamin Strack
Dominique LeClair
Eli Powers
Elvira Korman
Eryn Rea
Gal Sagy
Jacques Navarro Rovira
Jakub Salihovic
Jill Salvino
John Schaffer
Kate Rigg
Mehmet Tigli
Mimi D'Autremont
Nima Hajirasouliha
Noah Canavan
Patricia Fix
Paul Stavropoulos
Pavel Gumennikov
Radheya Jegatheva
Rina Goldberg
(posthumously- 
represented by 
her parents)
Robert T. Herrera
Rosario Capozzolo
Sai Danchuk
Shaan Couture
Sreejith Nair
Tom Purdy
Virginia Madsen

Virginia Madsen

Virginia Madsen

Virginia Madsen

Virginia Madsen Academy Award and Golden Globe Nominated Actress A cool, classic beauty, with a vibrant blonde mane and an exuberant flair for the dramatic, Virginia Madsen is one of Hollywood’s most versatile and unique actresses to date.  Not only did she receive amazing reviews for her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated performance in Alexander Payne’s hit film, SIDEWAYS, but this Independent Spirit Award-winning actress has an illustrious resume of roles alongside the most notable and respected actors in the business.

Virginia is currently wrapped on the EPIX miniseries THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR opposite Patrick Dempsey. Virginia can most recently be seen in season one of the CBS drama, AMERICAN GOTHIC, created by Corinne Brinkerhoff. She also recently wrapped shooting recurring roles on CBS’ ELEMENTARY, and the new ABC hit drama, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR.

In film, she recently wrapped production on the independent film 1985 for director Yen Tan. Virginia can be seen opposite Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper in the 2015 feature, JOY directed by David O. Russell.  Prior to that, she appeared in the Crackle feature DEAD RISING directed by Zach Lipovsky. Other recent credits include the independent features BURNING BODHI directed by Matthew McDuffie and A CHANGE OF HEART directed by Kenny Ortega in addition to appearing on the Lifetime series WITCHES OF EAST END. Virginia also starred in the Magnolia feature, THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE, directed by Rob Reiner opposite Morgan Freeman, as well as in the independent features THE HOT FLASHES alongside Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, and Wanda Sykes, CRAZY KIND OF LOVE directed by Sarah Siegel-Magness, and TNT’s HORNET’S NEST this past year.  Virginia stars opposite Kevin Spacey in the indie comedy FATHER OF INVENTION directed by Trent Cooper, released in 2010 and she starred in RED RIDING HOOD, released in 2011. She also starred in the Lions Gate thriller THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT in March 2009 and the independent features THE WILDERNESS OF JAMES written and directed by Michael James Johnson, JAKE SQUARED directed by Howard Goldberg and WALTER directed by Anna Mastro.

On the TV side, Virginia appeared in the Lifetime Television feature THE ANNA NICOLE SMITH STORY, AMC’s HELL ON WHEELS, and can also be seen starring on ABC’s comedic drama series SCOUNDRELS based on the New Zealand series “Outrageous Fortune” alongside David James Elliott. She was previously on USA’s final season of MONK alongside Tony Shalhoub.

Her other films include starring roles opposite Harrison Ford in the action thriller FIREWALL, Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in Robert Altman’s last film, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, and Forest Whitaker in the existential drama THE RIPPLE EFFECT.  She also starred opposite Jim Carrey in New Line’s 2007 psychological thriller THE NUMBER 23, directed by Joel Schumacher, as well as opposite Billy Bob Thornton in the 2006 comedy THE ASTRONAUT FARMER.  In 2008, she starred in the Sundance hit DIMINISHED CAPACITY alongside Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda for IFC.

Virginia’s other notable credits include Francis Ford Coppola’s THE RAINMAKER with Matt Damon in 1997, the cult classic CANDYMAN with Kasi Lemmons, HOT SPOT directed by Dennis Hopper, HBO’s first feature LONG GONE and David Lynch’s DUNE.  Virginia’s versatility was seen in the independent film, ALMOST SALINAS, opposite John Mahoney and in AMERICAN GUN, opposite Academy Award winner James Coburn.
Zach Anner

Zach Anner

Zach Anner

Zach Anner

Zach Anner Comedian, author, television writer, public speaker, and YouTube personality.

In 2011, Zach won his own travel show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Rollin’ With Zach and went on to create & host the shows Have A Little Faith & Earth Your While for Rainn Wilson’s media company SoulPancake. He also released the Google & Reddit backed series Riding Shotgun and the popular Workout Wednesdays on his own YouTube channel.

Zach’s work combines warmth, authenticity, irreverence, and infectious optimism to create “meaningful silliness” – humorous content that delivers substantive messages with the laughs. His ability to connect with audiences and knack for creating viral content has netted his videos over a hundred million views across social media platforms and helped change the conversation around disability. He is an ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and has worked with United Cerebral Palsy’s Wheels for Humanity program to distribute wheelchairs to disadvantaged communities in Nicaragua.

Zach’s candid and hilarious memoir, If At Birth You Don’t Succeed, was published in 2016 to rave reviews. In 2017 he was invited to guest star opposite Minnie Driver on an episode of “Speechless” – a comedic sitcom about a special needs family. ABC hired him as a full-time staff writer for Season 2.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Zach now lives in Los Angeles and spends most of his spare time in his underwear, thinking about how he can change the world.
Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray

TANIKA RAY

Entertainment Journalist, Pop Culture Specialist, Director, Producer, TV Personality, Host and Mommie

Tanika Ray, known for her insider Hollywood & Pop Culture POV, is focused on the big picture. Not only does she deftly manage the multi-layered responsibility of hosting and producing live events, but she has a unique ability to connect with guests one-on-one, holding her own as a pop culture expert on multiple platforms, most prominently TV.

Back at Extra as Host after 8 years, Tanika spent her time connecting with her purpose, giving birth to her beloved daughter and flexing other talents in her wheelhouse. Her mommy schedule allowed her to squeeze in short term jobs, most recently hosting Hollywood Today Live, CW’s Oh Sit, Lifetime’s The Rap Game’s Reunion show, 2 seasons of Lifetime’s Little Women LA Reunion specials and 2 shows for the wildly popular HGTV network, Design Star and HGTV'd.

 Tanika also paved her path into creating, directing and producing content that inspires & unites. She directed and produced 2 mini films for TVOne’s award winning Black History Month salute titled, Change Agents. And she satisfies her community responsibility by producing content to amplify the voice of Black Women and inspire them to harness their power.

Now that Tanika is a mom, she feels even closer to her ultimate goal than ever before. Her daughter inspires her everyday and has taught her the powerful lesson to never look back but to fiercely focus on what’s NEXT!!
Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé

Recognizable in the entertainment industry.  His career spans over 4 decades and he is a unique breed in today's industry as a triple-threat (and more).  Obba is comfortable in the expression of various musical instruments and all forms of dance. In addition to his award-winning performances on stage and screen, he is a nationally renowned speaker and master class teacher for adult and young audiences alike.

Obba has often been referred to, and is considered a ‘living legend' and is a treasured role model to actors and entertainers of all generations. Central to Obba's career is his unrelenting work ethic and his pursuit of a standard of excellence in everything he does.

Amongst Obba's many professional awards and nominations is his Daytime Emmy Award win (2016) for CBS’s Bold & the Beautiful, his Emmy nominated performance in the HBO movie "Miss Evers' Boys," his Tony Award nomination for his role as "C.C. White," in the original Broadway cast of "Dreamgirls", his "Best Actor" Award win for the Musical “Sammy” from the San Diego Critic’s Circle Awards, his NAACP Image Award win as "Best Actor" for his role as "Sarge" in "A Soldiers Play", the NAACP Trailblazer Award win, an NAACP Image Award-nominated performance in the HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," multiple Ovation Award nominations, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Peachtree Village International Film Festival.

Obba has appeared in more than 17 stage productions (several on Broadway), 33 films, 60+ television series and made-for-television movies. Presently, Obba can be seen in 4 prime-time series for; Netflix(Dear White People), Showtime (I’m Dying Up Here), Comedy Central (Detroiters) and CBS (Bold & Beautiful).  Many people will remember him from his groundbreaking entry into the entertainment industry during his international tour and co-starring roll with Liza Minnelli in “Liza in Concert”, which lead to his close relationship with professional mentor, Sammy Davis Jr.  Obba’s contributions and starring roll (as CC White) in the original production of Dreamgirls on Broadway is one of his most treasured accomplishments.

His distinct, unique speaking and singing voice can be heard in multiple ads, commercials, as well as narration for docu-dramas. His animation career includes the feature film The Wild Thornberrys, Air Bud Entertainment / Fandango Production’s Pup Star movies, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike and Disney Infinity 3.0 [1] and Rocket Power… to name a few.

Obba’s writing, directing and producing skills include the Lionsgate Home Entertainment feature film "American Bad Boy" starring Katt Williams, co-producer and director roles in "Oscar's Black Odyssey," co-producer of "Dorothy Dandridge An American Beauty," co-producer of "TV in Black The First 50 Years." He was the associate producer of the horror classic film "Voodoo Dolls" and the executive producer and director of the award-winning short films "Journey" and "Clarissa's Gift. " He co-authored, directed and produced the critically-acclaimed theatrical stage play "In The Blink of An Eye."It is easy to see why Obba is often referred to as one of the busiest actors in Hollywood.

Obba has dedicated his life and career to sharing his time, expertise and creative talents with all people, be it professional or personal. He has an uncanny way of making everyone feel as if he is always speaking to them directly and personally.  People have described Obba as being genuine, passionate, engaging and at times…very funny!

In addition to his on-going acting and artistic projects, Obba is constantly being asked to teach, emcee, host, serve as a keynote speaker and facilitate classes, events, festivals and projects around the world.  He leaves an indelible mark everywhere he goes.  Obba often says "your do is not your who.” When asked to explain, he says “your do is how you affect change in your life. Your who if how you affect change in someone else’s life."

Obba’s journey into the entertainment industry became intentional in high school when he began writing poetry and then, while attending Brooklyn College.  His pursuits deepened when he began to expand his poems into one-act plays.  Simultaneously, he immersed himself into the New York theatre and dance worlds. Studying under many noted directors and choreographers like Geoffrey Holder, Bob Fossey, Michael Bennett, Hal Prince, Thelma Hill, Frank Hatchett, Henry LeTang, Louis Johnson and Titos Sompa just to name a few.

Obba learned early on in his career that being authentic and tapping into ones humanity were important to develop and inform his craft.  He comes from the mindset that it is essential to deliver diverse types of artistic skills to his audiences and, always in the highest caliber possible. Be it the big screen, the small screen, or the stage. He discovered purpose and community at the same time.

Some little-known facts about Obba is that has a strong background rooted in the educational field. He was a co-founder with his brother Akin Babatundé and teacher of one of NYC’s first arts-based schools (in Brooklyn, NY). Fluent in American Sign Language (self-taught), and also a horse whisperer, as well as a rodeo competitor.  Obba is a dedicated father and proud grandfather.

It has been said, that Obba has a way of communicating that helps inspire, encourage and enlighten through his stories and phrases that he identifies as “Obba-isms.”

“As proud as I am of all that I have done, I am even more excited about what I am to do.” - Obba Babatundé
Drew Lachey

Drew Lachey

Drew Lachey

Drew Lachey

A native of Cincinnati, Drew Lachey is an accomplished singer, dancer and actor. Drew first rose to prominence as a member of the Motown pop group 98 Degrees. The group recorded four successful albums and sold more than nine million records worldwide. Drew made his Broadway debut playing the role of Mark Cohen in Rent. His other Broadway credits include the role of Patsy in Monty Python’s Spamalot and Corny Collins in Hairspray with the PCLO. Drew became a household name when he took home the infamous mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars (season-two champion, season-five co-host) and later took his dancing talents on the road with 3 North American tours of Dancing with the Stars and was asked to come back and be apart of the All-Star season. Drew also hosted the primetime ABC show Dance War with Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, The Miss USA Pageant, HGTV's $250,000 Challenge and America Sings for GMC. After a decade break 98 Degrees is back together and recently toured with NKOTB and Boyz II Men on the "Package Tour", "My2K Tour" and the "98 Degrees at Christmas" tours in the fall of 2017 and 2018. Drew also starred in UPTV's "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas" and A&E's "Lachey's Bar". Drew also consults with the Cincinnati Film Commission on films being produced around Cincinnati.
Merle Dandridge

Merle Dandridge

Merle Dandridge

Merle Dandridge

Merle Dandridge Biography   Having made an indelible mark on stage, television, and video games, Merle Dandridge continues to shine on the small screen, starring in Oprah Winfrey Network’s hit series “Greenleaf” which is set to return for its third season for a two night premiere on August 28th and 29th.  She previously starred in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” CW’s “Starcrossed,” and NBC’s “The Night Shift.”   Born in Japan, raised in Nebraska, and schooled in Chicago at Roosevelt University, Dandridge began her acting career with leading roles on Broadway in Spamalot (Lady of the Lake), Rent (Joanne), Aida (Aida), Tarzan (Kala) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Soul Girl, Disciple). Currently, she plays the role of Papa Ge, the sly demon of death, in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Ahrens and Flaherty’s “Once On This Island.” Dandridge is the first woman to ever to play this role, completely reinventing the character with her fearless portrayal. She has toured the U.S. and Europe six times and has been featured in several regional theatre productions (including multiple stints at The Geffen and Pasadena Playhouse). She has also performed at The Hollywood Bowl and at Royal Albert Hall in London.   Dandridge has voiced several videogame characters and worked alongside Neil Druckmann in “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” and starred as Marlene in “The Last Of Us.” She has also voiced various characters in “Dota 2,” Alyx Vance in “Half-Life 2,” and Katherine Collins in the Award-winning independent video game “Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture” for which she won the 2016 BAFTA for “Best Performer.”   In her Nebraska hometown, Merle has been inducted into the Hall of Fame where she spends time giving workshops, speeches, performances, and participating in projects to raise arts awareness for the school district she grew up in. In Los Angeles, where she currently resides, she serves on the Board of Directors of The Geffen Playhouse and lends her voice and support to Harvest Home LA which provides housing and holistic support to homeless pregnant women.
Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Bernstein, Michigan State Supreme Court Justice, is the first blind and youngest State Supreme Court Justice in the U.S.

Blind since birth, Justice Bernstein is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and earned his juris doctorate from Northwestern University School of Law. As an attorney, Justice Bernstein’s cases set national standards for protection of the rights and safety of people with and without disabilities. He represented the Paralyzed Veterans of America in partnership with the United States Department of Justice to help establish guidelines that are used by all commercial facilities across the country. He represented disabled residents against the Oakland County, Michigan Road Commission after roundabout traffic circles were built without disabled access. This ruling impacted future ADA compliance for road construction throughout the US. Finally, in a landmark settlement against Delta Airlines and Detroit Metro Airport, Bernstein gained accessibility for disabled fliers, helping set the standard for which airlines and airports are to be covered under the ADA.

Justice Bernstein has completed 18 marathons and 1 triathlon.
Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston

With her bubbly persona and drive to perform, CARRIE PRESTON has landed roles in everything from stage to the big screen to a starring role as Arlene Fowler, the red-headed sassy waitress in the Golden Globe nominated HBO series TRUE BLOOD, which ran for 7 seasons. She had recurring roles on two hit CBS shows: the scatterbrained, genius lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni on THE GOOD WIFE, for which she won an Emmy Award, and her real life husband’s (Michael Emerson) love interest, Grace, on PERSON OF INTEREST. And she was the star of the recent NBC sitcom CROWDED. Carrie currently plays Polly, a Floridian manicurist who is involved with the Dixie mafia, on TNT’s hit series CLAWS. Her other latest projects include GRACE AND FRANKIE with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin; WHEN WE RISE, the ABC mini-series about the gay rights movement; TO THE BONE with Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins and DAISY WINTERS with Brooke Shields.

Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, where her mother was an artist and art therapist while her dad was a geo-technical engineer, a young Carrie Preston discovered her true calling in life lay in performing arts. At the age of 12, she became the impresario of her own front-yard theater company as producer, writer, casting director, costumer, director – and of course, actress. Preston later obtained a BFA from the University of Evansville followed with an acting diploma from the prestigious Juilliard School.

Preston’s breakout was her Outer Critics Award nominated turn as “Miranda” in George C. Woolf’s Broadway production of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST with Patrick Stewart. Following that, she made her auspicious big screen debut as one of the two sexy, Southern bridesmaid sisters in the Julia Roberts blockbuster MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING. Her film work boasts scene-stealing turns in DUPLICITY with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen; Woody Allen’s VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA; the Oscar nominated TRANSAMERICA, playing Felicity Huffman’s sister; Alan Ball’s TOWEL HEAD opposite Aaron Eckhart, VIRGINIA with Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris, the indie darling SIRONIA, the Daisy 3 Pictures’ (her production company) film READY? OK!, and the critically acclaimed THAT EVENING SUN, with Hal Holbrook. Some other film credits include playing the 50’s housewife Sally, struggling with her Rock Hudson-esque husband in STRAIGHT-JACKET; the lead in the indie festival hit LOVELY BY SURPRISEMERCURY RISING with Bruce Willis; FOR RICHER OR POORER with Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley; GUINEVERE with Stephen Rea and Sarah Polley; WOMAN WANTED with Holly Hunter and Keifer Sutherland; STEPFORD WIVES with Nicole Kidman; and Robert Redford’s THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. She most recently stunned audiences in her harrowing turn as a feckless single mother in A BAG OF HAMMERS.

On television, she was a series regular on the sitcom EMERIL, starring the chef Emeril Lagasse. Guest appearances include Felicity Huffman’s sister (again) on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVESPRIVATE PRACTICELOST(playing her husband’s mother in a flashback); ROYAL PAINSLAW AND ORDER: SVUNUMBERSTHE INSIDE; the series finale of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENTWONDER FALLS; playing two killers and one victim on 3 different episodes of LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT;SEX AND THE CITY with Sarah Jessica Parker; SPIN CITY, with Michael J. Fox; UNION SQUARE;SIGNIFICANT OTHERS; and TRINITY.

Carrie is also a director and producer with her production company, Daisy 3 Pictures. Her directorial debut was the feature film 29th AND GAY, written by and starring James Vasquez, which was released on DVD by TLA Releasing. She also directed the short film FEET OF CLAY by David Caudle, which made the festival rounds. James Vasquez’s READY? OK!, which she starred in and executive produced, played more than 50 festivals, both domestic and international. Carrie won Best Actress at Film Out San Diego, where the film had its world premiere. READY? OK! was released on DVD by Wolfe video and recently made its cable TV debut on Logo. Both feature films are available at Netflix, on iTunes, on Amazon and at local video stores.

The latest film Carrie directed, a comedy concert film starring Kate Rigg called “Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Good Time Fun Fun Show.”, had its world premiere at the Soho International Film Festival and will be available for streaming later in the year. Carrie also directs the web series DARWIN, which can be seen at darwintheseries.com.

Carrie and Michael travel back and forth between Los Angeles and New York with their dog Chumley.
Kate Rigg

Kate Rigg

Kate Rigg

Kate Rigg

Kate Rigg ‘s comedy career started with the cult hit “Kate’s Chink-O-Rama: featuring the chinkorama dancers” which toured the country, was invited to PSNBC, HBO Time Warner Workspace, and was excerpted for PBS. As a standup comedian she has been to the Montreal Comedy Festival, The Vancouver Comedy Festival, hosted National Tours of Singalong Sound of Music, appeared on Showtime, Comedy Central, and was a comedy correspondent on the Dr. Phil show for 3 seasons. With the spoken word punk duo Slanty Eyed Mama featured in this film, she has been invited to the Smithsonian Institute, taped for PBS, Comedy Central LOGO and toured extensively. As a regular yet Asian actor she has been seen on Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Law and Order CI, Th Path, Marvel's Punisher, and done voices for Fox's Family Guy. She created two comedy based competition shows for television, "Dance Your Ass Off" and "Cache Craze". She is a NYFA Fellow, an NEA grantee, Won the Interarts Award at Juilliard where she first met collaborators Carrie Preston (director) and Lyris Hung (the other half of Slanty Eyed Mama featured in this film). She has done some great theater in New York and some other cool stuff but this is now getting long and boring kate as she writes it. www.katerigg.com
Jim Brunzell

Jim Brunzell

Jury

Jim Brunzell

Jim Brunzell

Jury

Jim Brunzell (aGLIFF- The All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival) is the Program Director for the All Genders, Lifestyles and Identities Film Festival (aGLIFF) in Austin, TX and the 31st annual festival took place in September 2018. He is also the festival director for the music/film/art festival Sound Unseen in the Twin Cities, MN, which was just named "One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World for 2016" by Moviemaker Magazine. He has served on numerous film festival juries and he is also a big sports nerd."
Michael Chenevert

Michael Chenevert

Jury

Michael Chenevert

Michael Chenevert

Jury

Michael Chenevert - Actor/Producer, Star of Off-Broadway play, "An Adam Experiment.”

Michael grew up in the fervent city of Detroit, Michigan. His family has an African-American ancestry with history in the Americas dating back as far as 1724. He attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy and further studied in the BFA program at University of Detroit Mercy. Michael has also spent some time in Ireland studying at The LIR at Trinity College and in New York at The Barrow Group. Michael continues his coaching with the great Susan Batson.

Michael’s family was active in city government and in the arts. At a very young age, Michael packed boxes of food for the underprivileged at his family's community center, then at night he would sit in the wings of the Detroit Music Hall, where he watched the productions of the late playwright Ron Milner.

Michael’s first professional acting jobs were in school performances funded by Planned Parenthood. After these performances he would counsel teens on personal and social concerns. Then on his 20th birthday, Michael booked his first prime time television appearance on the NBC show Final Appeal making him a Screen Actors Guild member. Other TV credits include Ugly Betty, Boardwalk Empire, Law and Order SVU, and The Following. His film credits include, Syrup, Eugenia and John, The Tombs, Soul Mates and Interference.

Michael is a member of Actors Equity Association and has performed lead roles in regional theaters across the country, such as Westport Country Playhouse, Arkansas Repertory, Repertory of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Crossroads Theatre Company. In New York Michael has worked in such theaters as The Barrow Group, Negro Ensemble Company, Take Wing and Soar,  New Federal, The Public Theater and the Billie Holiday Theatre, where he has performed in two Audelco award winning productions.

Currently, Michael is performing across the country in An Adam Experiment , his one-man show that he wrote about the life of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
Vivian and Ray Chew

Vivian and Ray Chew

Vivian and Ray Chew

Vivian and Ray Chew

Vivian Scott Chew, native New Yorker and music executive, is undeniably a pioneering risk taker in every sense of the word. As Founder and Principal of TimeZone International, she stands as an innovative figure in the global music and entertainment industry.

As any accomplished groundbreaker’s story would read, it’s very fitting that one of Vivian’s foundational, innovative steps was at ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), where she was the first African- American female membership representative. She then founded the “ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Awards,” which became an instant success and has grown to become an ASCAP staple event celebrating its 30th year in 2017. Not long after her work at ASCAP, Chew was called to work at Polygram Records as Director of A&R. Her next executive positions were that of Vice President of A&R at Epic Records and Head of Urban at 550/Sony Music where she worked for over six years. Amongst other notable successes, she signed and introduced the world to two-time Grammy winning, platinum selling dancehall superstar, Shabba Ranks- and ushered in the dancehall movement in America and beyond.

Determined to set her own course, Vivian stepped into the world of entrepreneurship and TimeZone International was conceived. Since 1998, TimeZone International has been the first and only U.S. based African-American owned company that provides many recording artists, such as Jill Scott, Lil Wayne, JoJo, Toni and Tamar Braxton, Kem, Brian McKnight, Jay-Z, India.Arie, BeBe Winans and others with international marketing and promotion, touring, licensing and distribution services in expanded regions. These services are also available to corporate clients. It was Vivian who spearheaded the McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign in six international territories, at a time when internet marketing and social media was in its infant stages.

Alongside her husband, Music Director and Producer, Ray Chew, Vivian co-owns Chew Entertainment, a premiere event production firm. Together they have a great reverence for live music, working with clients such as Carnegie Hall, The National Urban League, NAACP, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The New York Mission Society, The American Heart Association, Jackie Robinson Foundation, Bergen and New Jersey Performing Arts Centers, and the Apollo Theater. There are many exciting developments on the horizon for both TimeZone International and Chew Entertainment but Vivian is most excited about the formation of The Chews' foundation, "Power2Inspire" and the opening of their New Jersey recording studio, RVMK. Both of these entities were created to identify and nurture new and developing musicians, singers, songwriters, producers and aspiring music business executives in pursuit of their careers.

Music Director Ray Chew performs at the helm of award winning musical events with the world's most popular artists in-cluding Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Pharrell Williams, Justin Beiber, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz, Pitbull, Queen Lati-fah, James Taylor, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Jennifer Hudson and Quincy Jones. Currently Ray is in his ninth season as the music director for ABC's "Dancing with The Stars" giving his music takes on current and classic hits.

Previously Ray served as music director for Fox's "American Idol'; where he inspired some of the best talent in the compe-tition's history and produced over 300 contestant iTunes downloads. He has also served as music director for several net-work television series including "It's Showtime at the Apollo" and BET's "Sunday Best''. Ray's long-standing history with the BET Network, heading up the music for their biggest annual events include: "BET Honors'; "Celebration of Gospel" and the "BET Awards''.

Ray's music direction is sought after for prestigious music specials and historic landmark events including the 65th Prime-time Emmy Awards, the 2015 Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, the 2008 Democratic National Convention, The President's Inaugural Neighborhood Ball and the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards. In 2014, with the blessings of Milton DeLugg - who had previously held the seat for 50 years, Ray was handed the baton to musically direct NBC's broadcast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade... an 88 year tradition.

Ray's work with orchestras as a conductor and a composer has carried him to prestigious venues all over the world. From the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. to the Nobel Peace Prize broadcast in Norway, Ray's in demand sound can be found on vari-ous television and film scores.

At New York’s Carnegie Hall, he and his wife, Vivian Scott Chew, curate "A Night of Inspiration" - a sold out all-star con-cert to promote diversity at the famed venue. He conducted a 64-piece orchestra joined by a 200 voice mass choir for no-table artists from the gospel and secular communities.
Tom di Maria

Tom di Maria

Tom di Maria

Tom di Maria

Tom di Maria has served as Director of Creative Growth Art Center since 2000. He has developed partnerships with museums, galleries and international design companies to help bring Creative Growth's artists with disabilities fully into the contemporary art world. He speaks around the world about the Center’s major artists and their relationship to both Outsider Art and contemporary culture.  Prior to this position, he served as Assistant Director of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive at UC Berkeley. He received his MFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, in Baltimore, and BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Amber Espinosa Jones

Amber Espinosa Jones

Jury

Amber Espinosa Jones

Amber Espinosa Jones

Jury

Amber Espinosa Jones - Diversity Initiative, Sundance is an independent producer and stage manager from Oakland, CA. She has worked for a number of arts organizations looking to change the narrative of mainstream entertainment including Latino Theater Company, Market Road Films, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and  ImaginexJustice. She worked for 3 years at Sundance Institute on their fundraising and leadership team and currently works as the Outreach & Inclusion Coordinator supporting artists from underrepresented backgrounds and assisting community outreach. She is very pleased Kendrick Lamar is now a Pulitzer-Prize winner.
Matthew Faraci

Matthew Faraci

Jury

Matthew Faraci

Matthew Faraci

Jury

Matthew Faraci - President and Founder of Inspire Buzz and Executive Producer for the Dove Channel

Matthew Faraci is the host of Frankly Faraci on Dove Channel and President of Inspire Buzz, a marketing agency specializing in the values audience, 52 million Americans actively seeking family-friendly entertainment. Beginning his career as a producer on the legendary political TV talk show The McLaughlin Group, Faraci has never lost his journalistic passion for a great story. And as a marketer and communicator, he’s succeeded by bringing excellence to every task, applying a unique blend of persistence, creative thinking, and fusion of the very latest innovations to proven, time-tested strategies.

Faraci is a former political strategist who has served on more than 35 campaigns and on Capitol Hill, held leadership roles with three respected Washington, D.C. public policy groups, and was appointed by President George W Bush to serve as a spokesman at the U.S. Department of Labor. In his time as a journalist, Faraci produced award-winning TV shows and documentaries. Following his career in politics, Faraci played a leading role in creating several new enterprises with a focus on deploying highly-targeted grassroots strategies to reach familyfriendly audiences. During this time, he promoted a number of well-known, highly successful film and TV projects. In 2016, Faraci returned to Los Angeles—where he had once tried his hand as a standup comedian—from the East Coast and founded Inspire Buzz with a singular focus on delivering the values audience, one-in-three U.S. moviegoers.

In 2017, Dove Channel approached him with the idea to create and host an inspiring series designed to break new ground in entertainment. The result is Frankly Faraci, Dove Channel’s first original program, highlighting well-known personalities in entertainment, music, sports, business, and politics whose faith drives them to do the extraordinary. The show is currently in its first season with season two in the works, in addition to a weekly Podcast by the same name. Frankly Faraci has already earned rave reviews and broad media coverage, as well as a growing following across the country.

Faraci still writes as well, serving as a contributor to Variety and Patheos, and is featured annually at Variety’s Purpose Summit as well as in The Washington Times Faith in Film Special Edition, a publication his company produces in partnership with the newspaper. His work has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Deadline, The Washington Examiner, The Blaze, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, and other outlets. He is a husband and father of four children, and is passionate about his family, his faith, and his hometown Boston Red Sox.
Charisse Gibson

Charisse Gibson

Charisse Gibson

Charisse Gibson

Tim Gordon

Tim Gordon

Jury

Tim Gordon

Tim Gordon

Jury

Tim Gordon - Critic and Founder of the Lakefront Film Festival

Film Critic, Association President, Festival Director, Film Historian, Radio Host, Film Festival and Award Show Founder, Adjunct Professor, Executive Director, Brand Creator, and lover of ALL things film, Tim Gordon remains a cinema innovator.

Gordon has turned his passion for film into his life’s work, seeking to educate future generations and alter the perspective of African-American portrayals on the screen and in the executive suites of Hollywood.

He began his career in 1992 as a film critic and created The Black Reel Awards in 2000 to honoring African-Americans in the feature, independent and television films, Gordon created the educational infrastructure the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF) in 2004. With a mission to target, identify and prepare candidates who will represent the next generation of filmmakers and potential film executives, FAAAF introduced two programs, Reel Kids, and the Producer’s Institute to continue with the important work of redefining our “reel images” for the next generation.

In 2002, Gordon was named President of Washington (D.C.) Area Film Critics (WAFCA). The 50-member association examines issues pertaining to critics throughout the industry and annually honors the year’s best films and performances.

In 2008, he created the movie brand, "FilmGordon" consolidating his film content and social media platforms under one umbrella.

In 2013, Gordon joined the nation's largest film critics association, the 350-member Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA).

He fulfilled a lifetime dream when he partnered with Howard County, Maryland to create the Lakefront Film Festival, which will launch in the Summer of 2017.

Gordon has served as a programming consultant for several festivals and film series, including Morgan State University’s Arts Festival, Lincoln Theatre’s Film Feast, and the Uptown Saturday Night Movie Ministry. He has also served on film festival juries for the Virgin Island International Film Festival as well as the Over-The-Rhine International Film Festival.

Currently, he hosts the weekly film show, Keeping It Reel with FilmGordon on 96.3 HD4 on DC Radio. His work has also appeared in the USA Today, Variety Magazine’s prestigious Bureau of Film Critics, and has been a guest on NewsOne with Roland Martin, BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley and BET’s Screen Scene and Howard University’s Evening Exchange (WHUT-TV) and the WHUR’s The Daily Drum with Harold Fisher.
Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Jason P. Harris Founder, Spokesperson, CIO Jason’s Connection www.jasonsconnection.org As a neurodiverse individual on the autism spectrum, Jason knows firsthand the challenges faced by individuals to find supports to assist them to live their lives in a way that meets their needs and goals.  In 2013, he founded the non-profit organization Jason’s Connection, an online community for individuals with disabilities, mental health, aging, and diverse abilities and needs, providing information, resources, and art and personal-experience blogs contributed by its online community.  It includes the largest national, organic searchable resource directory, as well as a personalized service to assist people to locate resources in their area.  The site operates concurrently with an active Facebook page with over a quarter of a million followers. Jason speaks nationally to groups about hidden and invisible disabilities and works to build relationships with other national disability organizations. Jason has a B.A. from the College of Mount St. Joseph and an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and a Certificate of Advanced Disability Studies from Syracuse University.  This fall, he will be joining the staff at Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University, working to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities around the globe.
Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw was born and raised in Queens, NY, she first made her mark as a high school basketball star at Christ The King High School. She later accepted a full athletic scholarship to play collegiately for the perennial Women’s Basketball Powerhouse University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers and Hall of Fame Coach Pat Summit. She went on to have a stellar collegiate career that included leading the Lady Vols to three straight NCAA Championships, which was the first time that had ever been accomplished in Women’s College Basketball history. After her illustrious college basketball career, which included several All-American honors and countless other awards, Chamique would go on to be the #1 Pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft and she had the honor of winning an Olympic Gold Medal with Team USA at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Aside from her outstanding athletic career, Chamique has dedicated her life’s work to mental health and wellness activism. As of late Chamique has devoted a lot of her focus and time making appearances and speaking at various conferences, panels, and events within the mental health community to share her own personal struggles with depression and how she has been able to seek help and manage her own mental health. She is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Chamique is an ambassador with the JED Foundation and the  Laureus Sport For Good Foundation as an advocate for mental health and wellness.
Jenn Jordan

Jenn Jordan

Jenn Jordan

Jenn Jordan

Jenn have been waking up Cincinnati since 2002. As the Morning Show Personality for Cincinnati's Q102 radio station, Jenn leads the successful "Jeff & Jenn Show" that airs weekdays from 5:30 am-10:00 am. One of Jenn’s favorite moments with Q was arranging the first Autism Speaks walk in Cincinnati when more than 3,000 people came out in the pouring rain to support families like hers who are living with autism. It’s being involved with events like this, as well as Bras Across the Bridge and the Cincinnati MDA Muscle Walk that makes Jenn so proud to call Q102 their radio home.

You’ll find Jenn most often hanging out with her awesome son, Jakob, or working on her many hidden talents which include tap dancing, belting out show tunes, fitting her whole fist in her mouth and knowing the number of every value meal at McDonald’s, Arby’s and Wendy’s.
Teddy Kremer

Teddy Kremer

Teddy Kremer

Teddy Kremer

Teddy has many interests: He participates in swimming, softball and equestrian with the Special Olympics.   As a ballroom dancer, he has competed in the numerous dance competitions.

Teddy has served as the Cincinnati Reds bat boy four times and was honored with a baseball card in the 2013 Topps Short Print Series. He has been featured on national news programs.   He was invited to be the former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s special guest for President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union. In 2014, Teddy was the Honorary Grand Marshall of the Red’s Opening Day Parade.

He was the subject of one of ESPN’s most popular E:60 Specials in 2013 called “Teddy Ballgame”.  During the filming of the E:60 Special was when Todd Frazier, the then Cincinnati Reds third baseman, hit a home run at Teddy’s request.  Todd had struck out earlier in the game and as Todd started to the plate the next time he batted Teddy said to Todd “I still love you. Hit a home run for me!”  Todd replied, “Okay you got it buddy!” And Todd did hit a powerful home run. This was the beginning of a wonderful friendship!

The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce presented Teddy with the first Spirit of Cincinnati Ambassador Award. He was named Cincinnati Sportsman of the Year 2013.  Teddy was named Colerain High School’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year in 2013.

Teddy has been a guest speaker for many events and fundraisers that raise awareness for disability advocacy groups, throughout the Midwest.   His enthusiasm, interest, activism and dedication earned him the Personal Achievement Award from Ohio Public Images.

Teddy is involved in raising funds for the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, the Kenny Anderson Alliance and The Point of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati Rotary Club and many other nonprofit organizations.

He was a member of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under Forty Class of 2015.

Teddy assisted in writing a biography of his life called “Stealing First: the Teddy Kremer”.

In 2017 the Cincinnati Reds honored Teddy with a Teddy Bobblehead.  The tickets for the Teddy Kremer Bobblehead sold out completely. The Cincinnati Reds had a second Teddy Bobblehead Night on July 20, 2018, where he was again the Batboy for the Cincinnati Reds.

Teddy is employed by the Cincinnati Reds and Fifth Third Bank.
Lea Lachey

Lea Lachey

Lea Lachey

Lea Lachey

Lea Lachey was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH and began working professionally at age 11 on the "King and I" National Tour. After being awarded a full dance scholarship to Marymount Manhattan College in NYC she went on to work with the world renowned Radio City Music Hall Rockettes as a dancer and assistant choreographer. Whether it is doing “Singing in the Rain” with the Santa Barbara CLO, the Disney NYC World Premiere of Hercules or the Missy Elliott video for “I Can’t Stand the Rain” Lea has always taken pride in being a versatile dancer and expects the same from her students. Lea's choreography credits include 98 Degrees (Today Show, Good Morning America, Mtv, VH1, Miss Teen USA, NFL ProBowl and NBA All-star game). Her live stage credits include the Nickelodeon ‘All That” Tour, 98 Degrees “Heat It Up” Tour, 98 Degrees “Revelation” World Tour and Creative Director for Jessica Simpson’s “Reality” Tour. Lea is currently Co-Director of the School for Creative and Performing Arts Musical Theater program and co artistic director of Lachey Productions which is bridging the gap between student and professional performer. Her work was showcased in the Exhale Dance Tribe shows "Love Letters" and "Rapture" at the Aronoff which included Lachey Arts performers. Lea's choreography was on display this past summer on the US national My2K tour as well as in 2013 with 98 Degrees as part of the NKOTB, 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men "Package Tour". Over the last several years, Lea has had the honor of working as choreographer and dance consultant on multiple films. "Carol" staring Academy Award winning actress Cate Blanchett and Kyle Chandler, "Miles Ahead" starring Golden Globe winning actor Don Cheadle and Emayatzy Corinealdi and A Christmas Melody directed by and starring Grammy winner Mariah Carey and Lacey Chabert. You can also catch her as a guest DJ on Q102.
Missy Lay Zimmer

Missy Lay Zimmer

Missy Lay Zimmer

Missy Lay Zimmer

Missy is transforming the dance world with her choreography’s unique vision, style and musicality. Her New York City credits include: the Broadway and National companies of CATS as Victoria (the white cat), Jesus Christ Superstar (Anniversary Tour), SNL “I’m 50” with Molly Shannon, Mariah Carey “All I Want for Christmas” (dancer/choreographer), MTV|VH1 appearances, and Broadway Cares and Equity Fights Aids /The Easter Bonnet Choreography Award (co-Recipient) along side Broadway choreographer Chris Gatelli (Newies). Films: Little Man Tate with Jodie Foster (Jodie’s Double).

Other choreography credits include: Peter Frampton with Cincinnati Ballet, husband and wife duo, Over The Rhine, rapper Rakim, Tarkan (Turkish pop star), legendary Bootsy Collins, Paramount Productions, Cincinnati Ballet, Exhale Dance Tribe “25 to Watch” Dance Magazine, Kings Productions, Orion Pictures, and Tommy Boy Records.

Missy has also been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times, Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine and Cincinnati's City Beat, Enquirer, Post, and CIN Weekly.

In Cincinnati, she won the Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Critical Achievement in Choreography, for her work in the original musical, ‘Christmas Yet To Come’ (Know Theater). Missy also has choreographed, ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ with Cincinnati Shakespeare Theater.

Missy has been on faculty With her husband (3 years) at the acclaimed Broadway Dance Center in New York City and has taught at numerous colleges and universities as adjunct faculty at Dean College (MA), Cincinnati Ballet, University of Cincinnati (CCM), Cincinnati Performing Arts High School (SCPA), Lexington Kentucky High School for the Arts (SCAPA), University of Kentucky, Wright State University, Northern Kentucky University and national Dance Festivals. She and her husband, Andrew Hubbard taught in 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand at UNITEC University. Their non profit dance company Exhale Dance Tribe is slotted to perform in New Zealand in 2020 at The New Zealand Dance Festival.

Hubbard and Zimmer were finalists for the Capezio ACE Choreography Awards in 2011/2013 (NYC).

Missy and Andrew have co founded nationally recognized contemporary jazz company, Exhale Dance Tribe, Dance Magazine's ‘25 to Watch’. Exhale Dance Tribe is a resident company at Broadway Series theater, Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati.

Exhale premiered works at Merce Cunningham Performance Studio in 2008. In addition the couple choreographed for Cincinnati Ballet's New Works Program (2009-2011) with world premieres of Retrospect, Barre et Trois and Burning Moon (2012) Infamous Love Songs with International music talent, Over The Rhine. Their choreography can also be seen in Cincinnati Ballet’s new Nutcracker (Arabian) for the next 10 seasons. Missy and husband, Andrew have been honored with a Princess Grace nomination from Cincinnati Ballet for 2010-2011 for Excellence in Choreography. The couple created work for FRAMPTON project where legendary rock icon Peter Frampton played LIVE to their piece entitled Anthology in 2014.

Lay-Zimmer has judged and taught for convention/competitions; JUMP, Access Broadway, Dance Directives, SHOCK, Starsystems and Talent On Parade to name a few for over 17 years.

Missy understands her creativity is the ultimate form of expression while here on this earth and continues to inspire others to honor their unique artistic expression/path.
Wayne Box Miller

Wayne Box Miller

Wayne Box Miller

Wayne Box Miller

Wayne Box Miller is an award winning media professional, diversity communicator and owner of WBM Media. He was the catalyst behind the award winning radio show, The Prime Time Sports Show, which was recognized as one of the best urban sports talk shows in the country for eight years. He is currently the Pregame and Postgame Host for the Cincinnati Bengals radio network and also a member of the Cincinnati Enquirer Board of Contributors where he pens a monthly column on a myriad of topics.

He is also a published author of three books, From the Soul of a Man, The Power of Love, and the most recent, “You Wake Up, You Win!”TM, scheduled for release next month.

Wayne is a proud graduate of Morehead State University where he was later inducted into the Morehead Alumni Hall of Fame, Class of 2007, for his career achievements and community contributions.

Wayne is a long-standing community volunteer for numerous organizations including: ABC-Activities Beyond the Classroom, Cancer Support Community, Bond Hill Academy, The Cincinnati Reds Community Fund and LaRosa’s Sports Hall of Fame. He resides in Cincinnati where he is a member of Crossroads Church and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Courtney Parker

Courtney Parker

Jury

Courtney Parker

Courtney Parker

Jury

Courtney Parker  - VP of Alternative Programming, Adaptive Studios is a television and publishing veteran, who wrote and worked for seven years with TV’s #1 franchise Law & Order. While at Wolf, Parker also wrote the novella series for Wolf Film's newest Chicago based franchise, Chicago Fire. For the last fifteen years, Parker has printed over a dozen plus titles in the self-help, inspirational, children's and quality fiction categories. As a celebrity ghostwriter, novelist, and children's book author, she has collaborated with Grammy Award-winning producer Teddy Riley, Basketball Wives reality star Evelyn Lozada, Track and Field Olympic gold medalist Maurice Greene, as well as Essence and New York Times bestselling authors Victoria Christopher Murray, E. Lynn Harris and Nancey Flowers. In addition to successfully working with writers, Parker has worked in partnership with a number of athletes, including NFL stars Geoff and Mitch Schwartz (Eat My Schwartz), Terrell Owens and Ray Lewis, among many others.

Parker’s most recent work includes serving as V. P. of Alternative Programming for Adaptive Studios, where she oversees production and development of all alternative programming. Before joining Adaptive Studios, Courtney also served as an Executive In Charge of Production at TVOne for shows the including Rickey Smiley For Real, Fatal Attraction and their newest Viola Davis produced true crime series, Two Sides. She’s also worked as Executive/Co-Executive producing for Oxygen’s True Crime series, Three Days To Live, TV One’s hit show, Hollywood Divas VH1's top-rated franchise Love & Hip Hop, with Mona Scott-Young as well as a talk show for OWN, It’s Not You, It’s Men, with Rev Run & Tyrese. Parker is an active member of the Writer's Guild of America West. With a heart and passion for strong story and a love of books, Courtney continues to serve as Co- Founder of the newly launched imprint Monami Books, a division of the Atria/Simon and Schuster Publishing Company.

Courtney resides in Los Angeles, CA with her daughter Caley Hope Parker. She is an active member of Faithful Central Bible church. In her spare time, she enjoys leisure reading of her favorite authors as well as volunteering with the youth, which includes a young writers’ program at a local Culver City elementary school.
Hon. Alicia Reese

Hon. Alicia Reese

Hon. Alicia Reese

Hon. Alicia Reese

Nancy Silberkleit

Nancy Silberkleit

Nancy Silberkleit

Nancy Silberkleit

Maya Solis

Maya Solis

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Maya Solis

Maya Solis

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Maya Solis - Manager, Native Film Program, Sundance:  Serves as Senior Manager for the Native American and Indigenous Program at Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization that supports the development of Independent stories for the screen.  Her focus is to identify and support emerging Indigenous filmmakers and content creators across the US and globally. She manages the implementation of the Native Forum at Sundance Film Festival, Native Filmmakers Lab Fellowship, the Time Warner Producer Fellowship, the Full-Circle Fellowship and the Merata Mita Fellowship.

Maya is Vice-Chair for Vision Maker Media, which empowers and engages Native Peoples to tell their stories for public television. Previously, Maya worked as an archivist for the National NAGPRA Program, the Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum, the Academy Film Archive, and the UCLA Cataloging and Metadata Center. She is a graduate of the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) with degrees in History, Film and Moving Image Archive Studies.
Stephen J. Wampler

Stephen J. Wampler

Stephen J. Wampler

Stephen J. Wampler

One of the first things you’ll notice about Stephen visually is that he is in a wheelchair and has Cerebral Palsy, CP. Then you’ll get to know him as a person and you’ll see how little CP defines who he is. Stephen not only lives with disability, but thrives and wants to ensure that others have the same opportunity.

Stephen started the Wampler Foundation in 2002 with his wife, Elizabeth, so that children with disabilities could be active participants in programs and activities that are centered around the great outdoors. They have since enabled thousands of kids with physical disabilities and often economic limitations to experience the joys and camaraderie of camp and the experiences that push each child to discover how capable they really are and to expect only big things ahead.

Stephen and Elizabeth have big plans to expand their youth programs nationwide and internationally in order to help more kids lead full and ambitious lives, despite physical obstacles. Stephen knew he needed to do something to lead by example to show the world what he could do as a person with CP, to become a role model to others with disabilities. Stephen’s favorite Quote is from the US Navy Seals, "Failure is not an option." Stephen followed this motto when he was the first person to climb the biggest rock face in the world, El Captain mountain in Yosemite National Park. Wampler's Ascent is a documentary about Stephen Wampler and his amazing accomplishment of being the first person with Cerebral Palsy to climb El Captain mountain. As a demonstration of the mission of the foundation and an opportunity to bring international awareness in sending children with disabilities to the same summer camp Stephen attended when he was an adolescent. The Wamplers documented, “Wampler’s Ascent” and his heroic climb, the film has received national and international acclaim with 35 laurel leafs and 20 film festival awards to date.
Brian Washington

Brian Washington

Brian Washington

Brian Washington

Artist of The Continual Struggle

Brian Washington is an award-winning Los Angeles-based attorney and established artist. He specializes in works depicting the Civil Rights Movement and American society. Washington grew in Cincinnati, OH, where he began developing his artistic prowess at a very early age. He won state-wide and national art competitions in high school, while also being a National Merit Scholar, President of the Student Council, and basketball player. While majoring in pre-law at Duke University, Washington was a perennial Dean’s list student. He also had the opportunity to work on a year-long art project which eventually became his internationally acclaimed art collection “The Continual Struggle.” The Civil Rights Movement – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”

At the University of Southern California Law School, Washington maintained his artistic ambitions. His large painting entitled “We Shall Never Stand Silent” still stands in the school foyer as a reminder of the importance of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. Additionally, he was honored with the “2010 Humanitarian Award” from the American Civil Liberties Union. Washington’s art is exposèd at numerous institutions, including Smithsonian, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and at our own National Underground Freedom Center here in Cincinnati as part of its permanent collection.

A long-time admirer of Brian Washington’s work, President Bill Clinton endorsed his art as: “a masterwork of American art, a poignant depiction of America’s journey to perfect its union […]”. After receiving a glowing endorsement from the National Archivist of the United States, David Ferrio, The Continual Struggle exhibition will be touring American Presidential Museums over the next several years, concluding with an exhibition at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in 2020.
Melinda Weekes-Laidlow

Melinda Weekes-Laidlow

Melinda Weekes-Laidlow

Melinda Weekes-Laidlow

Melinda Weekes-Laidlow a social change architect with decades’ long experience building the collaborative capacity of individuals, organizations and networks towards more effective, inclusive and systemic social change. This year, Melinda launched Beautiful Ventures, a creative social enterprise that seeks to shift and uplift perceptions of people of African descent through inclusive, popular culture storytelling.

Through her consulting firm, Weekes In Advance Enterprises, Melinda has worked with leading institutions such as Columbia University, Grantmakers In the Arts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. She is a graduate Professor of Management at Marlboro College and an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Melinda also served as Managing Director at Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation and in 2015, Echoing Green named her it’s first-ever Social Entrepreneur in Residence. A native New Yorker who flows between the Big Apple and the Big Peach, Melinda holds degrees from Wesleyan University, New York University School of Law and Harvard University.
Abel Zavala

Abel Zavala

Abel Zavala

Abel Zavala

I was born and raised in Chicago, IL.

In 2010, my wife Frances and I moved to Cincinnati, OH.

In 2016 I decided to go back to school and was referred to Ohio Media School (OMS), formerly the Ohio Center for Broadcasting.  I decided to focus in radio while at OMS, but thanks to the instructors there, I learned what it took to work in all media fields.  In the end, I decided to continue to focus in radio.

While attending OMS, I worked as an intern at La Mega 97.7 FM in August of 2016, while at the same time interning at TBNK (Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky).  At both intern positions I got the hands-on needed to move forward in media and broadcasting.

I graduated in January 2017 from Ohio Media School, having received the Best in Television, Best on Cincy Underground (OMS’ radio station), Best in New Media and had the highest GPA of my class.

In April 2017 I started working full time for TSJ Media, which owns La Mega 97.7 FM, along with two other radio stations in Ohio as well as a Spanish newspaper, La Jornada Latina.  Since then I’ve held the position of Digital Content Producer for all 3 radio stations and their newspaper, as well as being one of La Mega 97.7’s radio personalities.  I also review movies for La Jornada Latina.
Gary P. Zola

Gary P. Zola

Gary P. Zola

Gary P. Zola

Gary Phillip Zola is the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. The AJA is the world’s largest free-standing research center dedicated solely to the study of the American Jewish experience. He received both his rabbinic ordination (1982) and his Ph.D. in American Jewish History (1991) from HUC-JIR.

Professor Zola became the AJA’s second director in 1998, succeeding his teacher and mentor, Professor Jacob Rader Marcus (1896-1995), the prodigious scholar who first defined the field of American Jewish history. It was Marcus who founded the AJA in 1947 and served as its director until his death in 1995. Under Professor Zola’s leadership, the AJA’s renowned collection has grown and the center’s dynamic array of programs is now housed in a world-class complex of three interconnected structures including the newly erected Edwin A. Malloy Education Building and the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati’s International Learning Center. Zola is widely recognized by colleagues as an innovator in his field, who has enlarged the public’s access to the AJA’s holdings, expanded The Marcus Center’s programmatic activities, and encouraged the institution to make use of 21st century technologies.

Professor Zola is also known as a historian of American Jewry who specializes in the 19th century American Judaism and the history of American Reform Judaism. Since 1998, Zola has been the editor of The Marcus Center’s award-winning biannual publication, The American Jewish Archives Journal. His own published volumes include We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014); American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader (co-edited by Marc Dollinger and published by Brandeis University Press, 2014); The Americanization of the Jewish Prayer Book and The Liturgical Development of Congregation Ahawath Chesed, New York City (New York: Central Synagogue, 2008); A Place of Our Own: The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping in America (co-edited with Michael M. Lorge and published by the University of Alabama Press, 2006); The Dynamics of American Jewish History: Jacob Rader Marcus’s Essays on American Jewry (Brandeis University Press, 2004); Women Rabbis: Exploration and Celebration (HUC-JIR Alumni Press, 1996) and Isaac Harby of Charleston (the University of Alabama Press, 1994), a major biographical study on the life of one of the founders of the first organized effort to reform Judaism in the United States of America. In addition to these volumes, Zola has published dozens of scholarly articles and book reviews.

President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Zola on three separate occasions (2011, 2014, and 2017) to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, an independent agency of the Federal government. Established by Public Law in 1985, the Commission exists to foster the preservation and protection of the cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings associated with the foreign heritage of United States citizens. Although HUC-JIR presidents have received such appointments, Professor Zola is the first regular member of the College-Institute’s faculty to serve on a standing Commission of the United States Government in the history of the school. President Obama reappointed Dr. Zola to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in 2014.

Prior to joining the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Dr. Zola served as the organizer and chair of the congressionally recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History, a consortium of leading research institutions established to promote the study of American Jewish history during the 350th anniversary Jewish life in America (2004-2005). In 2006, Dr. Zola became the first American Jewish historian to receive appointment to the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

In addition to these national activities, Dr. Zola has been actively involved in community relations in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lighthouse Youth Services of Cincinnati conferred its “Beacon of Light Humanitarian Award” on Dr. Zola in 2016. In 2012, he received the “Distinguished Service Award” from BRIDGES for a Just Community (formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews). The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center gave him its “Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award” that same year. In recognition of his service to the citizens in the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission gave Dr. Zola the “Bishop Herbert Thompson, Jr. Outstanding Humanitarian Award” in 2009. In 2004, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati conferred its “Distinguished Leadership Award” on Zola for his service to Cincinnati’s Jewish community. Dr. Zola and his wife, Stefi, reside in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have four grown children: Mandi, Jory, Jeremy, and Samantha.

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