and Individual Schedules
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This section links to available speaker and Opal Honoree biographies.
Deborah L. Acklin – CEO of WQED Pittsburgh
Deborah Acklin is President & CEO of WQED Multimedia,
the nation's first
worldwide as "Mister Rogers' station."
Ms Acklin has served in multiple executive roles within the cable television industry and commercial broadcasting. At WQED, she has managed the operations, strategies and fundraising to create original multi-platform content distributed across four television channels, three radio signals, an interactive Web-based learning channel, an interactive global media distribution portal and an education department while assisting PBS, NPR and their member stations as required.
Her work has been honored with many awards, including a national Emmy, as well as two consecutive Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards for Station Excellence. She also helped launch the first public television channel in Bermuda (CTV).
Ms Acklin serves on a variety of boards. She holds a
B.A. from Duquesne University and completed the Advanced Management
Program at Harvard Business School.
Anna Ahronheim - Attorney
Anna Ahronheim is an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Western District of Pennsylvania, where she supervises the Capital Habeas Unit, which represents death-sentenced prisoners in federal habeas corpus proceedings. Prior to moving to Pittsburgh in 2008, she was an attorney for 22 years with the Office of the State Appellate Defender in Illinois (OSAD), including five years as director of its state-wide capital post-conviction office. Anna is the author of the post-conviction chapter of the practice manual Defending Criminal Cases, published by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE). She has given presentations on capital post-conviction practice at seminars sponsored by the OSAD, IICLE, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and law schools.
In 2002 and 2003, Ms. Ahronheim testified before Illinois legislative committees considering comprehensive death-penalty reforms regarding post-conviction procedures and mental retardation claims. In October 2002, she became the first recipient of the OSAD's Richard E. Cunningham Award, established in memory of her late mentor and dear friend, which recognizes distinguished service on behalf of clients under sentence of death. She received her J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1985.
Kalpana Biswas - Documentary Filmmaker
Kalpana Biswas is an independent documentary filmmaker with a special interest in stories of survival and regeneration, especially in war-torn societies. She recently spent six immersive weeks in Afghanistan, filming and interviewing civilians in Kabul and Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban, to discover the hidden beliefs and coping strategies that enable people to cling to a sense of normalcy and purpose in the middle of unrelieved chaos and destruction. Afghanistan proved to be an unparalleled training ground for guerrilla filmmaking, which she enthusiastically embraced for her documentary film, Jewels of Kandahar, now in postproduction.
Biswas is currently Artist in Residence at AlphaLab Gear (Innovation Works) a hardware and robotics accelerator in Pittsburgh. She has contributed to Handmade: Turning Art into Enterprise (2014) a series being developed for PBS, and to CBS Sunday Morning’s “The World of Art Converges in Santa Fe” (2013). Her filmography includes A New York Heartbeat (2012) as Locations Manager, and The Shot Felt ‘Round the World (2010) as Research Coordinator.
Kalpana Biswas is Board Chairperson of Women in Film and Media, Pittsburgh, and past-president of the American Marketing Association. Pittsburgh Chapter. She has an MBA from the University of Illinois, Urbana Campaign, and a long career in international strategic marketing research.
For more information about her work visit www.jewelsofkandahar.com.
Gabrielle Carteris - Vice President SAG-AFTRA
Gabrielle Carteris was elected as the executive vice president of SAG-AFTRA on Sept. 26, 2013 at the union's inaugural national convention.
Carteris became a household name when she landed the role of Andrea Zuckerman on the Aaron Spelling program Beverly Hills, 90210 A show with a shaky beginning, 90210 ended up being one of the longest-running one-hour series in television history as well as being viewed in over 100 countries. The success of the show allowed Carteris to get involved with many great organizations, including DARE, Noxzema Extraordinary Teen program, MADD and Read to Grow.
Carteris has also worked as a producer, creating a series of specials called Lifestories which led to her producing and hosting her own talk show for Fox, Gabrielle. Recent credits include guest starring roles on Criminal Minds, Make It or Break It, The Event, Longmire, The Middle and the recent holiday television movie, 12 Christmas Wishes.
Carteris previously served Screen Actors Guild in 2008 as 5th alternate national director, 2009 as 1st alternate national director and in 2010 she began a three year term as national board member. Her previous American Federation of Television and Radio Artists service includes two consecutive terms on the AFTRA Los Angeles Local Board and the AFTRA National Board, three terms as AFTRA convention delegate/actor category and in 2011 she was elected Los Angeles local president and national 2nd vice president.
She also served SAG-AFTRA during the transition year as national vice president, Los Angeles.
Marco Cordova – CPA, MBT
Marco Cordova is the Vice President of EP Financial Solutions at Entertainment Partners, where he advises finance and studio executives on production incentives strategies in the U.S. and globally. Marco has a Master’s degree in Accounting/Business Taxation from the University of Southern California and is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 15 years of industry and tax experience. Prior to Entertainment Partners, Marco oversaw domestic and foreign film incentives and state and local taxes for Sony Pictures Entertainment and managed large tax consulting and outsourcing engagements for industry clients while working at Deloitte Tax LLP and Arthur Andersen.
Marco is one of the leading film tax credit placement specialists in the industry, and has worked with mostly studio and large Indy production companies to close approximately $300 million in film tax credit placement deals with his Fortune 500 and high net worth individual clients since 2011. Marco was also instrumental in Entertainment Partners’ expansion to about a dozen states and most recently Puerto Rico, where he has setup EPPS Purchasing, Inc.’s operations and local offices. EPPS Purchasing, Inc. is the leader of procurement and point-of-sale services in the industry since 2008 and serves all six major studios and many large independent production companies. In addition to EPPS Purchasing and Tax Credit Placement services, Marco is also the business owner for EP’s Super Loan-Out services, which handles most of the payroll for non-resident talent loan-out companies in New Mexico.
Lastly, Marco has assisted many state and foreign film commissions
and taxing authorities with the drafting of film incentives laws,
regulations, and guidelines. Marco is also co-creator and co-editor of
Entertainment Partners’ The Essential Guide to U.S. &
International Production Incentives (All Editions from 2008 to
2011), and The Guide: An Essential Resource for Global
Production Incentives (2012 and 2013-2014 Editions) in addition to
EP Financial Solutions’ monthly production incentives newsletter and
website at http://www.productionincentives.com.
Steve Cuden – Writer/Director/Producer
Steve co-created the hit Broadway and international musical,
Jekyll & Hyde, writing the show’s original Book and Lyrics
with noted composer, Frank Wildhorn. Steve has written nearly ninety
teleplays for familiar animated TV shows such as: X-Men, The
Batman, Iron Man, Xiaolin Showdown, Loonatics
Unleashed, The Mask, Goof Troop, Bonkers, Quack
Pack, Gargoyles, Beetlejuice, Savage Dragon, Pink
Panther, RoboCop, Extreme Ghostbusters and numerous others.
Elise D’Haene - Writer
Elise is a screenwriter, published author, and editor. Among her many screenwriting credits she worked on The Little Mermaid II (Disney), wrote several episodes of the Showtime series Red Shoe Diaries and Chromium Blue, and was the story editor for the NBC series Wind on Water. Her first novel, Licking Our Wounds, won the Small Press Book Award at Book Expo in Chicago. She won the Hemingway Award for her short story “Married.” She has published several additional short stories and, in 2005-06, she co-wrote a four-book series of erotica based on Red Shoe Diaries for the Penguin Group.
Stephanie Dangel – Attorney
Stephanie Dangel Reiter is a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School, a former Rhodes Scholar, law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, and attorney. Stephanie produced and co-wrote My Tale of Two Cities (MTOTC), a funny and heartfelt documentary that proves it's never too late to come back. She is also the Executive Producer of The Shot Felt ‘Round The World, the story of Jonas Salk.
JulieHera DeStefano - Director/Producer
JulieHera DeStefano embedded with the US Military for three months in Afghanistan working on a documentary recognizing the strength and resiliency of women in uniform and exploring the unique challenges they face returning from a combat deployment. A Carnegie Mellon University graduate (BFA, Drama), DeStefano has built a career both in front of and behind the camera. She served as the Managing Director and Producer of an award-winning off-Broadway theater company and as the Business Manager of a New York-based film and photography studio. Earlier in her career she performed extensively on stage in Pittsburgh and New York. Her acting credits include the films The Preacher’s Wife and The First Wives Club. DeStefano is profiled in the book Legendary Locals of Pittsburgh.
Meenakshi "Gigi" Durham - Author/Professor
Meenakshi "Gigi" Durham's work centers on media and
the politics of the body, with an emphasis on gender, sexuality, race,
and youth cultures. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of
Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. She
was named a CLAS Collegiate Scholar in 2012.
Her work has appeared in leading academic journals, including Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication Theory, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, and Women's Studies in Communication. She is the author of The Lolita Effect (Overlook, 2008) and the co-editor, with Douglas M. Kellner, of Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks (Blackwell, 2001, rev. 2006)
Lauren Elmer - Executive
Lauren Elmer is head of post production for A24 Films. Previously, she was Manager of Post Production for Sony Pictures Classics. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Film Studies and is currently developing a feature film project of her own.
Carol Lee Espy - Voice-Over Artist, Radio & TV Host
Carol started her career as a voice-over talent while working as a production manager in a Pittsburgh studio. Her national voice-overs and jingle work soon became a staple for her.
Over the years, you may have heard her voice morning’s on WDVE and Y108. In 2001, she was asked to help launch a news magazine at WQED Multimedia in Pittsburgh called OnQ, where she also became the voice of WQED. Her voice can be heard on national PBS productions and national documentaries.
Carol has won 2 Mid-Atlantic Emmys for her writing and producing and 7 nominations for writing/producing and music composition. Her compositions air nationally and internationally. In 2005 she was hired to boost Saturday nights on KDKA AM radio with her show The Life Lounge and Tradio. KDKA was the first commercial radio station in the nation and is heard in over 38 states US and Canada. She hosted two shows and was the dominant voice of the weekends on KDKA.
Carol is currently the host for KDKA TV’s Pittsburgh Living, a successful fully-formatted infomercial for the Baby Boomer consumer. In the midst of all of it, she and her husband (former Rusted Root percussionist/composer/editor Jim DiSpirito) raise their son in a flurry of musical performances, golf, basketball, high school musicals, percussion ensembles, historical re-enactments in the yard, oh my.
Carol and Jim have their own production company, DiSpirito Multimedia, which offers shooting, editing, animation, scoring for docus, films and TV. Cottage industry is a good thing.
For therapy, she plays golf, gardens like the Master Gardener Boss, and does The New York Times crossword puzzle in pen just to aggravate the next person.
Michele Gentille - CPA
Michele Gentille has over 20 years of entertainment accounting experience. Her specialty is in performing profit participations audits of production and distribution of motion picture and television programs on behalf of talent, investors and other third parties. Michele has given expert testimony as a consultant in entertainment litigation. Other areas of her expertise include performing audits of merchandise licensing, contract negotiation for film and television profit participants and settlement negotiation of audit claims.
Michele is a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner. She is frequent lecturer and speaker at universities and seminars and is a member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association – Entertainment Division, Women In Film - Executive Member, and the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation – Professional Advisory Network.
Michele joined Laventhol & Horwath in 1989. In 1990, Michele joined the CPA firm of Sills & Adelmann, became a partner in 2000 and a named partner in Sills & Gentille in 2007. Later that year, Sills & Gentille merged into Green Hasson Janks.
Michele received her Bachelor of Science from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Jerry Gergely - Technical Director
Jerry Gergely is the Technical Director of Tom Savini's Special Make-Up Effects Program at Douglas Education School in Monessen, PA. He is the recipient of the Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators "Instructor of the Year Award" 2002-2003 and has a background in special effects, animation and special effects make-up. Gergely is the lead instructor for the Tom Savini Special Make-Up Effects program at Douglas Business Center in Monessen. Gergely is well known in Hollywood where his work has appeared in such movies as Two Evil Eyes, Silence of the Lambs, Being John Malkovich and Night of the Living Dead '90. His make-up work for such television shows as Babylon 5, The X Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer has earned him two Emmy Award nominations. In addition to make-up, Gergely does special effects and is a licensed pyrotechician.
Paula Gregg - Producer
Paula Gregg has been ingrained in the Pittsburgh film community since the early 90's. Her first job was as a stand-in for a lead actress. When they told her she was too short for the job, she had a pair of orthopedic tennis shoes made that gave her the three inches she needed, and the job she wanted! From that moment on, she felt at home on a film set. She watched and learned, ultimately knowing that she wanted to produce.
Her first film that she developed was based on the true life drama of a military mom, and was bought by Joe Roth for Julia Roberts. She has since built a slate of projects that she passionately believes in. Paula is also committed to "conscious filmmaking"—a way of giving back to the communities that she films in. She implemented this on her film Christmas In Compton, giving many at-risk youth the opportunity to learn how to work behind the scenes on a film. The program was a huge success, and that little urban Christmas story that they said would never get made...was released nationwide in theaters Christmas 2012. Much adored by critics, it has now become an "Urban Holiday Perennial."
Paula has recently produced the documentary, The Fix which has just sold to ESPN to air as one of their prestigious Thirty On Thirty series. She just finished producing, along with Catherine Hardwicke, the Jamie Marshall directed The Guilty Innocent. Paula produced the first-ever PSA for the state of Pennsylvania which helped garner and secure the film tax incentive.
Paula Gregg currently sits on the Executive Board of IATSE Local 489, is a member of PAFIA and Women In Film. Her wide range of set experience, from art department to stunt doubling, has given her incredible insight of how a set needs to operate. Having been in the trenches as a crew member and by continuing to be an ally for filmmakers...she is affectionately known as "the people producer."
Teresa A. Gregory - Educator/Fundraiser
Teresa A. Gregory, CFRE, is an Assistant Professor at Point Park University’s School of Business in the Sports, Arts & Entertainment Management Program. Additionally, she assists nonprofits in the region achieve their goals through her consulting firm, Pinnacle Fundraising Consultants, LLC. Ms. Gregory has a 30 year track-record as a high-level, results-oriented fundraiser with extensive experience in all aspects of development and nonprofit management. She has been a team leader on campaigns ranging from $200,000 to $40 million working for a wide variety of organizations, including major research universities, professional theatres, museums, as well as small grassroots groups. At Robert Morris University, she assisted in fundraising for the documentary What Does Trouble Mean? Nate Smith's Revolution. Ms. Gregory has served as an Adjunct Professor for the Master of Arts Management program at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy, and has taught fundraising workshops for the Foundation Center at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University, and for the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Association of Fundraising Professionals. The International Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has granted Teresa the status of a Certified Fundraising Consultant.
Bret Grote - Lawyer/Activist
Bret Grote is the co-founder and executive director of the Abolitionist Law Center, a movement-lawyering organization dedicated to abolishing race and class-based mass incarceration. He has worked with the Human Rights Coalition in Pittsburgh since 2007 as an investigator, organizer, and researcher. He was the Isabel and Alger Hiss Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012. He graduated from the University of Pitt Law School in May 2013 and was recognized as the school’s Distinguished Public Interest Scholar.
Peter Hamilton - TV Consultant
Peter Hamilton directs Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc. where he helps his clients to successfully develop, produce and market television content.
His clients since 1987 have included Discovery Communications, A+E Networks, Smithsonian Channel, NBC, BBC, Scripps Networks, Weather Channel, ABC Australia, Singapore’s Media Development Authority, and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Foundation.
Notably, he developed and helped execute the business plan for Discovery International, now a $12Bn enterprise. For established players and newcomers, Peter Hamilton assesses concepts, undertakes market studies, creates business plans, identifies partners, develops marketing and distribution strategies, and actively contributes to their successful implementation. His firm has helped plan and launch dozens of factual networks worldwide.
Catherine Hardwicke - Director/Production Designer
As a storyteller, Catherine Hardwicke is drawn to emotion-driven, often edgy material. Her ability to portray the subtleties of teenage life brings realism to both her independent and commercial films.
Hardwicke is best-known as the director of Twilight which launched the worldwide blockbuster franchise, the Twilight Saga. Her Twilight grossed $69.6 million opening weekend, landing in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest opening ever for a female director. It went on to make $400 million worldwide and to launch three major young stars—who did their original auditions in Hardwicke’s garage.
Hardwicke also penned The New York Times best-seller Twilight: The Director’s Notebook, showcasing her behind-the-scenes photos, sketches, and experiences directing the film. Other credits include Warner Brother’s Red Riding Hood, the gothic retelling of the classic fairy tale which grossed $92 million worldwide, New Line’s The Nativity Story, Sony’s Lords of Dogtown with Heath Ledger and Emile Hirsch, and the indie, erotic thriller Plush with Emily Browning and Cam Gigandet.
Her first film as a director was the critically-acclaimed Fox Searchlight release Thirteen which she co-wrote with then-thirteen-year-old Nikki Reed. Thirteen won the Director's Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, two Golden Globe nominations, an Indie Spirit Award, and an Academy Award nomination for Holly Hunter.
Hardwicke conceived Thirteen's bold, visual style as a way of matching the intensity of a young girl’s journey, pulling from her experience as a production designer. She production designed over 20 films, many with critically-acclaimed directors such as David O. Russell (on Three Kings), Lisa Cholodenko (on Laurel Canyon), Cameron Crowe (on Vanilla Sky), Costa Gavras (on Mad City), and Richard Linklater (on Suburbia, The Newton Boys). Her other work as a production designer includes fan favorites such as Tombstone and Tank Girl.
In 2013, Hardwicke dove into the world of television, directing two episodes for AMC shows, and the pilot of Reckless, which CBS picked up for 12 episodes. She is currently in development on another TV pilot with Blumhouse Productions, as well as a documentary series with Michael London and Pivot TV. She is also in prep on a feature film with River Road Entertainment based on The New York Times best-selling novel Age of Miracles.
A native of the South Texas border town of McAllen, Hardwicke studied art in Mexico and received a degree in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. She designed and constructed a 20-acre passive solar townhouse complex in Texas, then enrolled in UCLA’s Graduate Film School, where she completed her first animated/live action short. It won her a Nissan Focus Award and toured in the Landmark “Best of UCLA” film program.
Steve Hoover - Director/Editor/Writer
Steve is currently working on his second feature
called Gennadiy. His first feature, Blood Brother, won
both Audience and Grand Jury Award at Sundance 2013. Steve has also
had a successful career in music video and commercial campaigns. Steve is a producer at Pittsburgh, PA based production company, Animal.
Daniel Hoyos - Film Festival Director
Daniel Hoyos is an indie film producer, and new director of the popular Seattle Shorts Film Festival now in its 4th year. After graduating with a degree in film, and communications in 2009 Daniel got his first job working for the nationally syndicated TV Show Biz Kids on PBS, as a production assistant. The following year he got hired at the international film festival “National Film Festival for Talented Youth” as the submissions and programming intern. Since then he worked at the “Children’s Film Festival of Seattle” where he helped program the week long 2011 festival, at the Northwest Film Forum.
In 2012 his short film "Play for Me" about the story of an old composer who begins seeking some musical inspiration from his granddaughter, won best cinematography at the 2012 Sierra Canyon Film Festival in Hollywood. In 2012 Daniel produced his most ambitious short film to date "No One Knows" when 12-year-old Jason looks in his neighbor's window, he learns he's not the only kid living in an abusive environment. What he learns will change his life forever. The film was accepted into 18 film festivals, and will premiere on the Shorts HD Network part of Direct TV later this year.
Most recently Daniel became the festival director of the Seattle Shorts Film Festival "Our goal was and is to bring Seattle film lovers the best of short films from the globe. The Seattle Shorts is held annual at the SIFF Film Center with a goal of expending the festival back to its 2-day roots for 2015. This year's festival will take place November 15, 2014 in Seattle, Washington."
Seattle Shorts Film Festival: http://www.seattleshort.org
Lynn Johnson - Photojournalist
Photojournalist Lynn Johnson is known for her intense and sensitive work, photographing the global human condition for the past 35 years. As a regular contributor to publications such as National Geographic and various foundations, Johnson brings a subtle perspective to tough issues—the scourge of landmines, the value of threatened languages, the daily challenge of gathering water for women in Africa, rape in the military and the global danger of zoonotic animals-to-human disease.
Her photographs, based on fairness and compassion are an attempt to honor and share the stories of others. Johnson uses her role as photographer and teacher to promote dialogue and encourage a change in attitudes and perceptions of intolerance and prejudice. Her Master’s thesis as a Knight Fellow at Ohio University, Hate Kills, illuminates the impact of hate crimes on American society.
She is an educator with National Geographic’s Photo Camps, using photography to help at-risk youth around the world to develop their own voices. She is also working within the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University to develop a mentoring program for students in their Multimedia, Photography and Design department.
For more information about Lynn Johnson and her work: http://www.lynnjohnsonphoto.com/ http://thephotosociety.org/member/lynn-johnson/
Susan Lazarus - Post Production Supervisor/Producer
Susan Lazarus is a Producer and feature film Post-Production Supervisor, whose films include the recent release Only Lovers Left Alive by Jim Jarmusch, Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair), The Boxer (Jim Sheridan), Inside Man (Spike Lee), Borderline Films’ Martha Marcy May Marlene and Simon Killer. Producer of the documentary Image Before My Eyes, Susan was recently Co-Producer of the documentaries Andre Gregory: Before and After Dinner by Cindy Kleine, and "Apache 8" by Sande Zweig. She is a member of the steering committee and former Chairwoman of NYWIFT's Women's Film Preservation Fund, protecting the legacy of films by women.
Ayana Ledford - Executive Director of PROGRESS
As founding executive director of PROGRESS, Ayana Ledford works to improve society by empowering girls and women in the art of negotiation. The path that led her toward the program was built on a foundation of advocacy with past work experience including time with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University and community organizing efforts made on behalf of low income Pittsburgh Public School students. She has also fought for low-income access to health care with the Consumer Health Coalition and while serving as a health education instructor in Central West Africa.
Her past commitments include serving on the Athena Awards host committee, a mentor for Duquesne University’s CLAAY program, working with the Terry McAdam Book Committee for Nonprofit Management, YWCA of Pittsburgh’s Young Leaders Board, and as a founding member of the Sankofa Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania. She currently serves on the board of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Sojourner House, and Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
She has conducted over 100 presentations on the value of negotiation for women's and girl's organizations, women's affinity groups, and after school programs such the 2014 Women of Courage Awardees, Harvard University, Westminster College, Carlow University, Chatham University, Coro Center for Civic Leadership, AmeriCorps, Dress for Success, Penn State University, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Area Independent Teachers Association, Carnegie Mellon, American Association of University Women, Babst Calland, and ALPFA Pittsburgh.
Most notably, PROGRESS partnered with the Heinz College to launch Negotiation Academy for Women. This collaboration between the Heinz College and PROGRESS seeks that all high powered professional women are able to reach their full potential by utilizing the art of negotiation. Ms. Ledford holds a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Dickinson College and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh with a focus on community organizing and social administration.
Diana Little – Production Manager
Diana Little is Production Manager and Head of the
film department at The MediaPreserve, an audiovisual reformatting
laboratory whose clients include university libraries, art museums,
broadcast entities, archives and government agencies. She previously
served as Preservation Specialist at Cineric, Inc., and is a graduate
of the Selznick School of Film Preservation at George Eastman
House. Diana has served on the steering committee of the NYWiFT
Women’s Film Preservation Fund and is an active member of the
Association of Moving Image Archivists. Visit her Website at The Media Preserve.
Melissa Martin – Director/Producer
Melissa Martin is an award-winning producer/writer/director working in independent film, and theatre. She is the Producer/Writer/Director of The Bread, My Sweet, a critically acclaimed, award-winning, commercially successful independent film. An award winner on the film festival scene, The Bread, My Sweet screened at more than twenty festivals, was a featured film in Chris Gore's Film Festival Survival Guide, and was released theatrically nation-wide. It was distributed world-wide by Fox International and on DVD by Universal/Screen Media.
Martin is also a creator and director of The Honorable (in post-production), a series pilot featuring David Conrad (star of Ghost Whisperer). She has directed multiple commercials and short films. For the stage, she directed Glengarry Glenn Ross, Frozen (with Barebones Productions), and Amy Hartman's play Mercy and The Firefly at the Playhouse Rep.
Martin teaches graduate screenwriting in The Drama School at Carnegie Mellon University. She also teaches Acting for Management in The Heinz School at CMU.
Sarah Mayer - UpTo Consultant
Sarah Mayer is a native Pittsburgher but has lived and
worked in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. Her business experience
includes marketing and communications in both the non-profit and for
profit sectors. Her passion lies in marketing communications and all
things digital marketing – paid search, SEO, social media, email
marketing, web site content development and web site management.
Sarah graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor
of Arts in English Writing/Business in December 2001. One of her first
positions was with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, where she held
various roles from 2002 through 2005 with the last one being the
Retail Promotions and Special Events Manager. Sarah enjoyed working in
the non-profit sector and also promoting downtown Pittsburgh—about
which she is very passionate. (If you don’t believe it, seriously, go
ahead and ask her a question about downtown.) Her major
responsibilities at the PDP included coordinating and implementing
major event marketing campaigns including Light Up Night—one of the
largest annual events in downtown Pittsburgh, cultivating corporate
sponsorships, managing special event budgets, planning and
orchestrating the membership and property owner meetings, and
coordinating the undergraduate intern program.
In 2005, Sarah left the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to join A
Place for Mom, the nation’s largest elder care referral service, to
serve as the Corporate Marketing Director. In this role, Sarah
showcased her ambition with exploration into new areas of marketing
and communications, such as social media and paid search marketing. At
A Place for Mom, Sarah was responsible for launching, managing and
measuring marketing campaigns for both B2B and B2C audiences, online
marketing business development, content marketing, management of
social media web sites, company event oversight and coordinating
After a little over 5 years with A Place for Mom, Sarah decided
it was time to venture out on her own, so she founded Infiniti Marketing
Solutions. As principal of Infiniti Marketing Solutions, Sarah worked
with a variety of small business owners, entrepreneurs and non-profit
organizations. Working with her clients on marketing strategy,
implementation and measurement, ultimately led her to partnering with
other like-minded marketing and communications professionals. The idea
for Shift Collaborative began with those strategic relationships.
Each year, Sarah plans and implements many events, from company
trainings to large-scale public events. Her favorite event to plan
each year is Jaxson's Jog, a charity run held to spread awareness
about a birth defect known as congenital diaphragmatic hernia
(CDH). Sarah's son Jaxson is a CDH survivor. Sarah is vice president
of the board of the Western Pennsylvania Montessori School, and also
the 2011-2012 President of the BNI Groundbreakers chapter.
Mary Ann McBride - Account Specialist
Mary Ann McBride has been Entertainment Partner’s Account Specialist for Pennsylvania for over 5 years. Mary Ann holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Cinema and Digital Arts from Point Park University. Prior to Entertainment Partners, Mary Ann worked freelance in the industry as a Production Assistant and Assistant Accountant for such Pennsylvania-based films as Adventureland and She’s Out Of My League.
As part of the EP Financial Solutions’ team, she works closely to monitor incentive trends across the country, with a special focus on Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. Mary Ann also assists with the collection, research and compilation of information in both domestic and international jurisdictions for Entertainment Partners’ The Essential Guide to U.S. & International Production Incentives (all editions from 2008 to 2011), and The Guide: An Essential Resource for Global Production Incentives (2012 and 2013-2014 editions) in addition to EP Financial Solutions’ monthly production incentives newsletter and website.
On the local level, Mary Ann personally assists all Entertainment Partners and EPFS clients in Pennsylvania with a focus on EPPS Purchasing, Inc. processing. Mary Ann also holds a close relationship with Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia, monitoring their current productions and effectively reporting on any changes to legislation or administration that may affect their local film industry.
Kevin McQuillan - CPA
Kevin McQuillan, Principal at the McQuillan Group, has
more than 21 years of experience working as a Certified Public
Accountant. Since graduating from Duquesne University in 1987, he has
held various positions within public accounting firms in the
Pittsburgh area, including national and large regional firms. Kevin
leveraged the extensive experience he obtained as an employee and
subsequent partner in several public accounting firms, and in 2010
established The McQuillan Group.
Over the years, Kevin has developed expertise in the areas of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting. He works with small and mid-sized companies in industries such as, but not limited to, construction, manufacturing, restaurants, and nonprofits. Additionally, Kevin has developed a unique niche working with production companies and the film industry as a result of the establishment of the PA film tax credit.
Kim Moses - Producer
Kim Moses has developed and served as an executive producer on over 600 hours of primetime television programming. She is currently serving as executive producer of two upcoming series, Reckless, a new CBS Network drama developed and produced by Sander/Moses Productions in association with CBS Studios; and Runner a FOX Network drama developed and produced by Sander/Moses Productions in association with FOX Studios. Recently, she served as the executive producer and occasional director of Ghost Whisperer, which ran for five years on CBS. She also co-authored the book Ghost Whisperer: Spirit Guide and created and wrote the award-winning Ghost Whisperer: The Other Side web series. As founder of SLAM Digital Media, Moses pioneered the Total Engagement Experience (TEE), which is a business and creative model for television that uses each show as a component of a broader multi-platform entertainment experience. Using Internet, mobile, publishing, music, DVDs, video games, AOP (Audience Outreach Program) and more, TEE establishes an infinity loop that helps to drive ratings, increase revenue streams, and create viewer loyalty. Moses has been named to the Newsweek’s Women and Leadership Advisory Committee and was honored with the Women in Film’s Woman of The Year Award in 2011.
Molly Rice - Playwright/Songwriter
Molly Rice is a playwright/songwriter who gravitates toward unusual collaborations, offbeat musicality and site-specific attempts at enchantment. Her plays have been developed and produced in NYC (Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick, Women's Project, NYTW, HERE, NYU/ Tisch, New Georges) and nationally (Trinity Rep, McCarter Theater, Salvage Vanguard, Strand Theater, Kitchen Dog, Montana Rep). Clarkson Potter, Heinemann Press, Kenyon Review, Austin Chronicle, DEVICE.com and Indie Theater Now have published her work, and residencies include Tofte Lake, Pilot Balloon Church House, Voice and Vision, Hangar Theater, Missoula Colony, Yale/ P73 Residency. She has been honored by the International Women's Playwriting Festival, New York Innovative Theater Awards, Brown's Weston Prize For Graduate Playwriting, Theater Masters, and the Montclair and Pace University New Works Initiatives. Her MFA came from Brown and she has taught there as well as Kenyon College, Marymount Manhattan College, Pace University, and Montclair State. Recent productions include Futurity the Musical at American Repertory Theater and The Saints Tour, a traveling site-specific play that has so far appeared in Lower Manhattan, Louisville KY, and NYC’s West Village (with the inimitable Taylor Mac as Tour Guide), featuring scores of local musicians, artists and community organizations. It will appear again in Braddock, PA in September, co-produced by Bricolage Theater.
Molly is a longtime musician/ songwriter. When she was 18 one of her songs made the Top 100 Charts in Alaska. She still doesn't know what number it was.
Jasmine Gonzales Rose - Professor
Jasmine Gonzales Rose, an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is a critical proceduralist who teaches in the areas of Race and the Law, Evidence, and Complex Litigation with an emphasis on social change. Her research focuses on the application of critical legal theory to procedural law with a keen interest in the interaction of court procedural and evidentiary rules with language rights, substantive and theoretical notions of citizenship, and democratic principles. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School where she served as editor in chief of the Harvard Latino Law Review and a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. After law school, she clerked for Judge Damon J. Keith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Judge Hector M. Laffitte of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. She has worked for a variety of nonprofit and governmental organizations on issues of civil and human rights. She currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh and the Abolitionist Law Center.
Krista M. Salera - CPA
Krista M. Salera began her career in public accounting in 1987. She has spent the last 25 years working in Pittsburgh accounting firms with a wide variety of clients including small businesses with less than $1 million in revenue and large clients in excess of $300 million in revenue. Krista has worked at The McQuillan Group since its inception in 2010.
As Director of Accounting and Auditing, Krista is responsible for compliance and attest engagements. In addition, she is responsible for the day to day operation of the firm. In this role she hires, trains and schedules staff, oversees all departments, and schedules all major projects. She has implemented a paperless work environment and launched a women's initiative within the firm.
Krista enjoys challenges and opportunities to think outside the box. Her extensive experience enables her to find creative solutions for her clients such as helping them increase cash flow and manage their business more efficiently.
Martin Savidge - Correspondent
Martin Savidge is an anchor and correspondent for CNN based in the network's world headquarters in Atlanta. Savidge returned to CNN in 2011, and reported for the network from 1996 to 2004.
Savidge has covered breaking news throughout the globe for CNN. In 2013, Savidge reported from the scene of the Alabama school bus hostage situation, Cleveland missing girls, Texan fertilizer plant explosion, Colorado wildfires, and the George Zimmerman trial. In 2012, Savidge was on-the-scene from breaking and developing news location reporting on the pardoned Mississippi murders, Ohio school shooting, Superstorm Sandy, John McAfee on the run. In 2011, he has reported on breaking news stories, including the largest tornado outbreak in US history that moved through the Southeast, and the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. The devastation caused by tornadoes that hit Alabama and Mississippi, Mississippi levee and the Casey Anthony trial He delivered on-the-ground coverage of the military build up in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003, including embedding with the 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines. He has reported from Afghanistan, Kandahar, and Bagram, where he was the first television reporter to travel with the U.S. troops during Operation Anaconda. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Savidge reported from Ground Zero on the search and rescue mission.
In 2004, Savidge joined NBC News as a correspondent based in Atlanta, reporting for NBC Nightly News, Today, and MSNBC. He was their primary correspondent in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
Before joining national network television, Savidge worked as a special projects reporter and anchor for WJW-TV in Cleveland. For 11 years, he covered major local, national and international stories, specializing in news documentaries and breaking news.
Savidge began his broadcasting career as an anchor and reporter for WCIA-TV in Champaign, Ill. in 1980. He then moved to work as the prime-time anchor for WMBD-TV in Peoria, Ill. Savidge also has worked as a reporter for the Associated Press.
Savidge has been honored with some of broadcast journalism's most prestigious awards, including two Headliner Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, A Peabody Award, Dupont Award, nine local Emmy awards, six Associated Press awards, two United Press International awards and two Women in Communication awards. In October 2002, the National Journalism Education Association named Savidge its Media Person of the Year for his support of scholastic journalism.
Savidge earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio University.
Tom Savini - Makeup Effects
Tom Savini is primarily known for his groundbreaking work in the field of special makeup effects in movies such as Creepshow and Friday the 13th. His signature realism livens otherwise plodding genre films. Early in Savini's career, Dick Smith became an inspiration and a guide, later becoming an associate at Savini's Special Make-up Effects Program.
Eleanor Schano - Journalist
Throughout her career, Schano has been on staff and
on-air at KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV, WIIC TV (now WPXI-TV), WQED TV, WPGH
TV, KDKA Radio, KQV NewsRadio, and WPEC TV in Palm Beach, Florida.
Currently, Schano serves as the Special Projects
Director at KQV-NewsRadio, where she has been on staff since 1982. She
is responsible for numerous series on culture, entertainment, health,
and education. In 2008, she launched her brand Live Well/Live Long
with Eleanor Schano and served as Executive Producer and host for the brand's first product, a yearlong campaign of health and wellness segments which aired on WTAE TV. She continues to develop and produce a variety of print and multimedia products under the Live Well/Live Long brand. Schano also makes many appearances as a guest author since publishing her autobiography, Riding the [Air]Waves: Five Decades in the Public Eye...And Counting, in 2006; and, she is a much sought-after lecturer and motivational speaker, delivering presentations to more than 200 civic and professional organizations each year.
With a broadcast career spanning five decades, Schano is often recognized as Pittsburgh's "woman of firsts." She holds the distinction of being the city's first female commercial television announcer; first female weathercaster; Pittsburgh’s first female general assignment television news reporter; producer and host of Gateway to Glamour, television's first local production to gain national syndication; and Pittsburgh’s first solo anchor woman.
Throughout her career, Eleanor Schano has garnered
some of the industry’s most prestigious awards and honors. She
received the prestigious National Academy of Television Arts and
Sciences' Governor's Award in 2009. She also received Lifetime Achievement awards from both the Pittsburgh Press Club and the Pittsburgh Press Club, in recognition of outstanding career achievement and contributions to Western Pennsylvania journalism. In addition, Schano’s work has earned five Golden Quill Awards; a Matrix Award for outstanding investigative news coverage; and the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Award for Excellence in Broadcasting for LifeQuest, a weekly TV magazine for older adults. She was honored by the South Florida Broadcasters Association as Outstanding TV News Anchor in South Florida in 1981; she was the recipient of the President’s Award from the American Women in Radio and Television; and, she received the City of Pittsburgh’s Love Award for humanitarian service to the community.
A committed and involved member of the Pittsburgh community, Schano has served as a commissioner for the Greater Pittsburgh Commission for Women, and she holds seats on the Board of Directions for the Civic Light Opera and the Carnegie Science Center. Formerly she held positions on the Boards of the Pittsburgh Radio and Television Club and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Eric Sloss - UpTo Consultant
From 2002 through 2011, Eric served as the Director of Public Relations for Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Fine Arts. Through this appointment, Eric publicized the work of Marina Abramovic, Mel Chin, Jonathan Borofsky, Alan Fletcher, Mstislav Rostropovich, Patrick Wilson, Zachary Quinto, Billy Porter, Chris Borle, Megan Hilty and many other artists from various disciplines. He managed the publicity for famed conceptual artist Mel Bochner and his public sculpture, The Kraus Campo. During his tenure at Carnegie Mellon, he promoted classical music concerts, theater and exhibition seasons. Eric also spent close to a decade working as the publicist for Randy Pausch and Don Marinelli and their Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon. He received publicity all over the world for various events and exhibitions, including the public art project Conflict Kitchen, a food shop that offers cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with. He was the executive producer of the podcast program LAbA6, where he interviewed cultural jamming duo Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum from the Yes Men, Dara Greenwald, Josh MacPhee and many other artists, musicians, actors and designers. Eric also produced the podcast program Field Notes – both shows are available on iTunes.
Following his time at Carnegie Mellon, Eric served as the Director of Communications for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Eric promoted and managed publicity for Fallingwater Frank Lloyd Wright’s monumental residence built for the Pittsburgh retailer Edgar Kaufmann. He managed international media in print, trades and television for the museum, placed media all over the world – throughout Asia, South and North America. Eric also managed public relations for the economic development nonprofit Mon Valley Initiative.
Eric holds a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University. He was a board member of the Sprout Fund, a progressive funding agency that provides "seed" funding to artistic and entrepreneurial projects and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Grant Review Committee providing support to various projects. Eric was selected by Pittsburgh Magazine and Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project as one of Pittsburgh's "40 under 40" for making a positive impact on the western Pennsylvania region. He has been recognized with a number of local and national professional awards in art, new media and marketing.
Today, Eric teaches corporate communications at both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. The courses explore marketing and communications in organizational settings, where professional communicators manage relationships with a wide variety of constituencies. Eric is a natural storyteller, helping organizations achieve third party validation — interpreting their mission to the public. He takes an integrated approach towards executing public relations, design and marketing efforts.
Loren Smith – Producer
Loren Smith is a producer driven by a passion to empower creativity and her love for cinematic storytelling. She has worked in live action, animation, visual effects, production and postproduction.
Loren is known as a hands-on leader who develops initiatives that promote creative thinking, engage technology and bring new perspectives to the challenges of creating a vision. Her infrastructure and communication strategies were responsible for successful global-partnerships with teams in China, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and England.
Recently Loren worked at Digital Sandbox, a VFX and post-production facility owned by Academy-award winning VFX Supervisor, Scott E. Anderson, as Production Manager on Won’t Back Down. That led to her position as Lab and DI Producer supervising digital services on Chasing Mavericks and Parental Guidance. In her role as DI Producer, Loren designed cost-effective budgets based on project needs and steered completion of independent movie projects including Beyond Right and Wrong, a compelling documentary honored with a special screening at the United Nations in 2012.
Her tenure in animation began with Disney Feature Animation on the Oscar-nominated short, “Runaway Brain.” Loren’s skill to maintain synergy between art and technology continued during her 11-year stint as a Producer on the Emmy- winning series, King of the Hill where she spearheaded the final look and feel of the animation. Loren joined The Simpsons Movie as Digital Producer in 2006 followed by her role as a Production Supervisor on DreamWorks' Madagascar 2. In 2009 Loren became Sr. Producer for Technicolor’s 3D Animation and VFX studio in India where she invigorated production infrastructure with oversight of all projects, teambuilding and client relations.
Before venturing into animation, Loren wore several hats working on music videos, live concert multi-camera shoots, commercials, television and movies.
Lisa Smith-Reed – Producer
Lisa Smith-Reed, a native of Pittsburgh, received her B.A. in Theater from Gannon University. She has spent over ten years working in film and documentary television including the Emmy nominated Project Greenlight for HBO; the feature film, Abduction, directed by John Singleton; and The People Speak, directed by Chris Moore and featuring Howard Zinn, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon and Bob Dylan. She was the line producer for the Pollie Award-winning First Tuesday Media and also produced several Discovery Channel series. Lisa is also the Producer of the Steeltown Film Factory's filmmaking competition and COO of Steeltown Entertainment.
Julie Sokolow - Documentary Filmmaker
Sokolow is an award-winning independent filmmaker whose documentaries
have appeared at TIME, Huffington Post, and Boing Boing. She is the
producer of the Healthy Artists series, and producer/director/editor
of the forthcoming feature documentary, Aspie Seeks Love.
See her work at www.juliesokolow.com.
Russ Streiner - Producer
Russ Streiner is perhaps best known for his role as Johnny in Night of the Living Dead (1968). He was also one of the producers of the film. Streiner has also produced There's Always Vanilla (1971), The Booby Hatch (1976), and the remake of Night of the Living Dead (1990). He currently serves as chairman on the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Film Office. Russ Streiner is also one of the co-mentors along with John A. Russo of the John Russo Movie Making Program at DuBois Business College in DuBois, PA.
Rosemary M. Tarquinio - Vice President of Current Programming, CBS
As the vice president, current programming for CBS, Rosemary M. Tarquinio is the network liaison responsible for overseeing the creative direction of the new and returning CBS drama and comedy series, including The Mentalist, The Good Wife, Criminal Minds, Elementary, 2 Broke Girls and the upcoming show Reckless. Previously she developed television programming for Radiant Productions, Kushner-Locke, NBC, Paramount, Universal and Lorimar. She started her career as a producer for KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh 2Day.
Christy Uffelman - MHCS, BCC – Executive Coach
Christy Uffelman has facilitated peer learning and coached executives for almost a decade, helping them align talent strategy with business strategy. Christy launched the east coast office of Align Leadership centering on organizational knowledge transfer, women’s leadership development, and Millennial/Gen Y initiatives–helping organizations engage and develop their emerging talent pipeline. On the cusp of the Millennial generation herself, Christy brings credibility and passion to organizations that want to better understand and leverage their young talent.
Christy’s passion is leadership development through cohort-based learning and this work earned her most recently the 2014 Woman of Achievement Award as well as the 2012 ATHENA Young Professional and YWCA Young Leader of the Year Awards. In 2008, the Association of General Contractors honored Christy’s innovative talent initiatives with their national Education Excellence Award. The Pittsburgh Human Resources Association awarded her work with the 2011 People Do Matter Award for excellence in learning and development, and in 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times recognized Christy with their Human Resources Leadership Award.
A TED Speaker, Christy grew up in the city of Pittsburgh and graduated from Duquesne University with a B.A. in both Psychology and in Corporate Communication. She is a board certified ontological coach from Newfield and a certified Master Human Capital Strategist from the Human Capital Institute. Christy lives in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, Kevin, their ten year old daughter, Elaina, and an empowered hamster named Pixie. Contact her at email@example.com.
Kara Van Malssen – Senior Consultant
Kara Van Malssen is senior consultant for digital archiving and preservation projects at AudioVisual Preservation Solutions. She focuses on helping clients develop effective lifecycle management practices for audiovisual material, from production to preservation, and works to implement the policies and tools that will enable those practices to be realized. Some of her recent clients include the Museum of Modern Art, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Carnegie Hall, and HBO. Kara is also adjunct professor at New York University, where she teaches Digital Preservation for the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, from which she is also a graduate.
Danny Yourd – Producer
The long time creative partner of Steve Hoover:
together they created Blood Brother, as well as a wide range of
previous work, from music videos to national commercial campaigns. He
is currently producing their next feature documentary,
Gennadiy. Danny is a producer at Pittsburgh, PA based production company, Animal.
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