|IN THIS SECTION|
|Alexis Alexanian, President|
|Amanda Lin Costa, VP/Communications|
|Anne Hubbell, VP/Development|
|Simone Pero, VP/Membership|
|Octavia Taylor, VP/Programming|
|Susan Steiger, VP/Special Events|
|Marica Chacona, Secretary|
|Anita Katzen, Treasurer|
|Terry Greenberg, Communications|
|Margarita Sophia Cortes, Communications|
|Robyn Watson, Development|
|April Hattori, Development|
|Eileen Newman, Membership|
|Annetta Marion, Membership|
|Maura Kelly, Programming|
|Rosalind Murphy, Programming|
|Caren Spruch, Special Events|
|Destiny Lilly, Special Events|
|Marsha S. Brooks, Esq., Legal Counsel|
Board of Directors 2014-2015
Alexis Alexanian, President
Alexanian is an independent film and television producer. She started her career in production on big-budget studio films, including A League of Their Own, Mississippi Burning, Bonfire of the Vanities and Striptease. Alexanian is the co-founder, along with her brother David, of Elixir Films, an independent production company dedicated to character-driven, passion projects for film and television. At Elixir, she produced the international TV series Long Way Round, featuring Ewan McGregor, which aired on Bravo, as well as Ethan Hawke’s The Hottest State, released in 2007.
Prior to Elixir, she co-founded, along with Gary Winick, InDigEnt (Independent Digital Entertainment), New York's groundbreaking digital initiative funded by the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and dedicated to producing low-budget, talent-driven features. While at InDigEnt, Alexanian produced Sundance favorites Pieces of April, Tadpole, Tape, Chelsea Walls and Personal Velocity, which garnered her an Independent Spirit Award.
Amanda Lin Costa, VP/Communications
A graduate of Emerson College's film program, Costa has worked for 20 years in the film, television and performing arts community. Starting as a production coordinator, she moved on to working in the "vanities" on Broadway as well as in film and commercials, working with companies such as Disney, MTV, and Dreamworks and artists such as Whitney Houston, Tony Bennett, Nicole Kidman, and Liam Neeson. When her daughter left for college, Costa had her own fresh start. She began directing and producing her first documentary and quickly crossed over into scripted content. Her new life as a writer and producer finds her helming an adaptation, a biopic and a feature-length documentary. Docu-style branded content is her specialty.
Anne Hubbell, VP/Development
Hubbell is Eastman Kodak’s East Coast Regional Account Manager for Studio and Independent Feature Film, working with over 100 projects annually. She oversees studio contracts, negotiates with productions, advises filmmakers, and does outreach at film festivals and industry events. As a freelance producer and consultant, she has worked on film and television productions, and not-for-profit media and arts events. She is currently developing and producing several narrative feature films, including two Sundance Lab projects, and is writing an animated feature. Hubbell is on the board of the New York Production Alliance and is a member of IFP and PGA.
Simone Pero, VP/Membership
Pero is a corporate communications executive and founder of For Impact Productions, an independent firm specializing in outreach and marketing campaigns for media and entertainment companies, independent films, and nonprofits. Her recent work includes development of the Stony Brook Southampton Graduate Film Program with Killer Films and movement building for the Sundance hit Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. Previously, she was Vice President for Corporate Communications at MTV and earlier, Director of Communication and Marketing at Rainbow Media/Cablevision. Pero also co-produced the award-winning documentary Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy (directed by NYWIFT advisory board member Alice Elliott) and is an alumna of the Sundance Institute. She began her career on national and global advocacy initiatives, including the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women and the Clinton/Gore ’96 advance team.
Octavia Taylor, VP/Programming
Octavia Taylor passed the New York State Bar with a singular focus: to be an advocate for artists. She began her legal career working at a music boutique law firm where she reviewed and negotiated music agreements for emerging producers and employment agreements for music executives. After a stint at VH1, Octavia enjoyed being involved in the creative process of a television show so much that she began to pursue a career as a television production attorney. She eventually worked for both the Disney ABC Television Group and BET as a production attorney and as a marketing attorney for HBO. Octavia is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a service organization, and Fred’s Team, which is a fundraising program for marathoners who raise money for cancer research. Octavia received her BA in Communications from the University of Virginia and her JD from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Susan Steiger, VP/Special Events
Steiger has provided legal representation to corporate and entertainment clients in the worlds of theater, publishing, film and music for over 25 years. Her clients include theatrical and motion picture producers, music publishers, book publishers and performers for whom she drafts and negotiates their agreements. She advises clients on intellectual property rights, including trademarks and copyrights, and provides corporate services for companies. After working at several prominent entertainment firms and a major record company, she established her own firm. Before law school, she was an associate producer at ABC News Special Events, where she worked on political conventions, elections, the space program, and science documentaries, and later on, at 20/20. She is on the board of the Irish Repertory Theatre and a co-producer of a production of Menopause The Musical.
Marica Chacona, Secretary
Marica Chacona is Vice President, Program Planning and Scheduling at Showtime Networks Inc (SNI). She is responsible for the development and execution of the monthly program schedules for The Movie Channel, Flix, Smithsonian Channel, Showtime multiplexes and various On Demand offerings. Her position includes longterm strategic planning and collaboration with various departments within SNI, including finance, marketing, on-air promotion and digital media. She also oversees the development of new channels and is one of the key Showtime executives shepherding the launch of a new company-wide programming system. Chacona started her entertainment career in nonprofit, working for the Southwest Film/Video Archives at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she earned her MBA.
Anita Katzen, Treasurer
Katzen has worked as a tax accountant for her entire career, with a focus on entertainment clients. Entertainment clients include actors, film, television and music producers, directors and writers. Katzen focuses on corporate and personal tax and cash flow. Katzen has served on the New York State Society of CPA’s Entertainment, Sports and Art Committee for the past 15 years and was treasurer of the National Association of Women Business owners for 5 years.
Terry Greenberg, Communications
Veteran studio marketing executive Terry Greenberg has enjoyed an extensive career in both film and television. Following several years in the cable industry, she transitioned into motion pictures, overseeing campaigns for Paramount Pictures and The Walt Disney Company that included Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, Ghost, Pretty in Pink, Toy Story, Aladdin and Evita, among many others. In addition, Terry has contributed her Hollywood savvy to the New York Film Festival and has segued into documentary filmmaking. Her recent projects include Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, and an array of A-list panels for the DOC NYC Film Festival.
Margarita Sophia Cortes, Communications
Margarita Sophia Cortes is an entertainment publicist whose career began in 2000 at PPV coordinating PR efforts for award-winning programs and critically acclaimed specials. In 2005, she joined JGPR agency to oversee dozens of indie film and DVD campaigns ranging from Robert Greenwald’s Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price and Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me to Robert Klein: The HBO Specials and Sex and Lucia to Dirty Dancing: The Limited Edition. In 2009 she established MSophia PR and led campaigns for Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest; the award-winning documentary, Restrepo; the critically acclaimed Starlet, The Deep Blue Sea and Any Day Now and Oscar® nominated Monsieur Lazhar.
Robyn Watson, Development
Robyn Watson was until recently the Director of Corporate Communications and Engagement at Time Warner Cable, where she was responsible for creating strategic communications initiatives that drive key business results and supports the creation of high-performing and culturally dynamic employees. In addition to being an active member of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) and National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC), she sits on the board of directors for Entertainers for Education Alliance (E4EA), an entertainment industry nonprofit that uses athletes, musicians and high-profile individuals to promote higher learning and personal achievement among urban youth. She is a graduate of Emory University, is pursuing a Masters in Science in Leadership from Benedictine University, and holds a master certification in Strategic Organizational Leadership and Human Resources from Villanova University.
April Hattori, Development
April Hattori is Director of Communications at Expeditionary Learning. She has more than 10 years of communications experience at established and entrepreneurial organizations, including Disney, McGraw-Hill, Standard & Poor’s, Allstate, and Press Play Productions. April also mentors first generation college students in the New York Needs You non-profit. In addition, she has served on the boards of Town Hall and the Workshop Theater.
Eileen Newman, Membership
Newman is the Executive Director of the Center for Bronx Non-Profits. Previously, she was Managing Director of the Tribeca Film Institute, Executive Director of the National Board of Review and Senior Director of Programming at the Independent Feature Project, and had served as Executive Director of Film/Video Arts for many years. She is active in the New York film community, serving on the boards of the New York Production Alliance, Manhattan Neighborhood Network (Board Chair) and the advisory board of NYWIFT. She often speaks on panels about independent media and has been a juror and panel member for the Miami International Film Festival, the Jerome Foundation and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Annetta Marion, Membership
Award-winning director and Primetime Emmy-nominated producer Annetta Marion’s experience in television and film includes documentary and reality television, as well as narrative film, commercials, music videos, and internet content. Annetta is currently directing on the acclaimed TV series Oprah’s Master Class, profiling entertainment icons including Tim McGraw, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson, Berry Gordy, and Lenny Kravitz. She was also the showrunner on season three of the series, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy, a first for the network. Annetta’s producing experience includes ESPN’s 30-for-30 feature documentary “You Don’t Know Bo,” which earned the highest-ever rating in the network’s history. She’s a graduate of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women; and a member of both the Director’s Guild of America and the Producer’s Guild of America.
Maura Kelly, Programming
Maura Kelly is an Emmy-winning producer and media consultant for TV, digital and special events. She is the founder of Purple Mountain Media, an independent company specializing in development, project management and community engagement campaigns. She has worked with the Jim Henson Company, PBS Kids, Facebook, Southern Star, and Bill Moyers. Formerly, Kelly was an executive producer at WNET/PBS for over 15 years where she produced award-winning programs, developed revenue streams and created strategic alliances Prior, she was a Director of Marketing at Townley Associates, producers of the WSJ Report. Currently, Kelly writes on entrepreneurs and emerging technology trends for the Huffington Post.
Rosalind Murphy, Programming
Rosalind Murphy is an independent marketing consultant with diverse experience in film marketing, social media strategy and event management. Prior to working as an independent consultant, Rosalind worked as Executive Engagement Manager at Microsoft and Marketing Director at Film Life, Inc. While at Microsoft she launched the successful quarterly Women Executive Forum and received the Microsoft Diversity Inclusion Award for developing innovative relationship programs for women executives. Rosalind’s is an active board member of La Casa de Pedro and member of Women's Association of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Caren Spruch, Special Events
Caren Spruch is the director of arts and entertainment engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She leads the organization’s efforts to work with, influence, and honor those in the entertainment community who promote women’s health. Caren established the Board of Advocates, a group of prominent television, film, and stage actors, producers, and directors who publicly support Planned Parenthood’s mission at national events, in magazines and newspapers, online, and across all social media platforms. She consults with creative professionals to review scripts for accuracy and advises them on incorporating health messages into their scripts. Caren has also organized countless events featuring celebrities for other nonprofits, political campaign fundraisers, and national political conventions, and she has conducted business development efforts in the private sector.
Destiny Lilly, Special Events
Destiny Lilly is the owner of Destiny Casting, a boutique casting company that specializes in short film and video projects. Over seven years in casting, she has cast more than 150 commercials and branded video projects. She is the Casting Consultant for the Live Action Short Film Program at the School of Visual Arts where she mentors graduate and undergraduate students. She recently cast the short film A Poet Long Ago written by journalist Pete Hamill and directed by Bob Giraldi which premiered at The Hamptons International Film Festival. While serving on the NYWIFT programming committee, Destiny has produced programs on topics including casting independent films and film festival programmers. She is a proud graduate of Emory University and The Central School of Speech and Drama.
Marsha S. Brooks, Esq., Legal Counsel
Brooks is a partner in the New York City law firm of Brooks & Distler. She has specialized in the areas of entertainment and intellectual property law for over 25 years. Brooks represents producers, writers, directors, rights owners, and for-profit and not-for-profit institutions in the fields of legitimate theatre, motion picture, television, and new media all over the world. She is general counsel for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre and New York Women in Film & Television.
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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.