NYWIFT.org
NYWIFT Celebrates 35 years! Travel Back to 1977 With Our Timeline

NYWIFT was founded in 1977 by a handful of women who felt New York needed a networking and education forum for women in the entertainment industry. 


 2007-10: Laverne Berry, Board President

  • 2007 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Terry Lawler, NYWIFT executive director; Jennifer Jason Leigh, actor; Suzana Peric, music editor; Julie Taymor, writer/director; and Lauren Zalaznick, president of Bravo Media. The Loreen Arbus award honoring Those Who Take Action & Effect Change went to producer Gale Ann Hurd
  • NYWIFT represented by a delegation of members at the 2007 WIFTI International Summit in Toronto
  • 2008 Designing Women spring event honors Colleen Callaghan, hairstylist; Patricia Regan, makeup artist; and Catherine Marie Thomas, costume designer
  • 2008 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Linda Kaplan Thaler, President of The Kaplan Thaler Group; Laura Linney, actor; Cynthia Nixon, actor; and Cyma Zarghami, President of Nickelodeon
  • 30th Anniversary Celebration presents the following special programs: “Who Moved the Glass Ceiling,” “Future of Content Production,” “Future of the Past,” "Future of Shorts,” “Future of Content Delivery” and “From Dumb Blonde to Smart Blonde”
  • Joined forces with CineWomenNY, growing the membership by 200 people and reaching the 2,000 mark
  • Created the Society of Women Cinematographers, a subgroup of the membership
  • 2009 Designing Women spring event honors Jennifer Johnson, hair stylist; Marianne Skiba, makeup artist; and Donna Zakowska, costume designer
  • 2009 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Andrea Wong, President and CEO of Lifetime Networks; America Ferrera, actor; Julianna Margulies, actor; and Allison Silverman, former Executive Producer of The Colbert Report. Linda Kaplan Thaler was the emcee, and Stephen Colbert made a surprise appearance
  • Redesigned website, created new logo and refreshed our brand
  • Conducted the first of several Charity Buzz auctions of “celebrity experiences”
  • 2010 Designing Women spring event honors Susan Lyall, Marjorie Durand, Suzy Mazszarese-Allison and the Sex and the City 2 hair, makeup and costume design team at Macy’s
Check out this video from 2002, highlighting our history up until then:


 2005-07: Carey Graeber, Board President

  • 2005 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Tina Fey, writer/actor; Debra Lee, president/CEO, BET; Julianne Moore, actor; and Susan E. Morse, editor, at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • 2006 Designing Hollywood spring event honors Nicki Ledermann, Ellen Lutter and Lyndell Quiyou
  • Linda Kahn becomes chair of Advisory Committee
  • NYWIFT represented by a delegation of 30 members at the 2005 WIFTI International Summit in Los Angeles
  • WIF/GM Alliance supports Women in Film Chapters nationally
  • GM sponsors Muse Awards, Women's Film Preservation Fund/Tribeca Film Festival event, and scholarship.
  • Newsletter redesigned
  • New category of membership opened for women who are committed to the industry but have less than 4 years experience beyond entry level. New category incorporates Next Wave Group
  • 2006 Muse Awards honors Ellen Lewis, casting director; Katie Couric, news anchor; Betty Cohen, president and CEO, Lifetime Television Networks; Mable Haddock, founding president, National Black Programming Consortium; and the recipient of a new award: Loreen Arbus award honoring Those Who Take Action and Effect Change to John Wells, writer/director/producer
  • 2007 Designing Hollywood spring event honors Toy Van Lierop, makeup artist; Michelle Johnson, hair stylist; and Sharen Davis, costume designer
  • 30th Anniversary Committee established and planning begins
  • Fiscal sponsorship program created
  • Audit committee established
  • Administrative Director position recreated
  • WIF/GM Alliance supports Intern/Mentor Program, Designing Hollywood, 30th Anniversary, Conversations With, and the Archive Project
2003-05: Linda Kahn, Board President
  • 2003 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to actors Whoopi Goldberg and Emma Thompson; Bonnie Hammer, president of the Sci-Fi Channel; and Ellen Kuras, cinematographer. 1,400 guests attended at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • 2004 Designing Hollywood spring event honors Aude Bronson-Howard, Margarita Delgado and Naomi Donne
  • Marcie Setlow becomes Chair of Advisory Committee
  • Communications Committee recreates new Hollywood Reporter ad campaign
  • April 2004, DigiMonth sponsored by Getty Images
  • NYWIFT represented by a delegation of 13 members at the WIFTI International Summit in New Zealand
  • 2004 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Lee Grant, actor/director; Susan Lucci, actor; Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney-ABC Television Group; and Kristi Zea, production designer, at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • Online membership survey undertaken
  • Website redesigned
  • NYWIFT’s 2006-2008 strategic plan completed
  • 2005 Designing Hollywood honors Hope Hanafin, Julie Weiss and Carla White
2000-03: Marcie Setlow, Board President
  • 2000 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Annette Bening, actor; Carole Black, president and CEO. at the Lifetime Network; Madhur Jaffrey, actor/writer; and Rachel Portman, musical composer. 1,300 guests attended at The New York Hilton and Towers
  • Designing Hollywood spring event honoring costume designers and makeup artists established
  • 2000 Designing Hollywood spring event honors Pat Field, Rebecca Weinberg and Rita Ryack
  • NYWIFT begins implementation of strategic plan, including discussions on NYWIFT's advocacy role in the industry
  • NYWIFT revitalizes advisory committee, chaired by Ellen Geiger. Advisory committee charged with planning for 25th Anniversary in 2003
  • In 2001, an interactive membership roster and a bulletin board are added to NYWIFT website
  • 2001 Designing Hollywood spring event honors Bernadette Mazur, Carol Oditz and Yana Syrkin
  • 2001 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Dede Allen, feature film editor; Meryl Poster, co-president of Miramax; Phylicia Rashad, actor; and Liv Ullman, actor. 1,200 guests attended at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • Hollywood Reporter advocacy ad campaign undertaken
  • 2002 Designing Hollywood spring event honors Juliet Polcsa, Ruth Carter and Michal Bigge
  • 2002 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Kate McEnroe, AMC Network head; Lois Smith,veteran publicist; Alfre Woodard, actor; and Frances McDormand, actor. 1,000 guests attended at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • In 2002, the NYWIFT 25th Anniversary Archive Project begins
  • Symposium and film exhibition celebrates NYWIFT’s 25th Anniversary: 25 years of Women Calling the Shots during March 19-26, 2003, at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater
  • 2003 Designing Hollywood spring event honors Colleen Atwood, Jennifer von Mayrhauser and Judy Chin
1998-2000: Ellen Geiger, Board President
  • 1998 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Candice Bergen, actor; Sheila Nevins, VP, documentary and family programming, HBO; Dyanna Taylor, cinematographer; and our first Special Lifetime Achievement Muse Award presented posthumously to Ida Lupino, accepted by Gena Rowlands on behalf of the Lupino estate. 1,500 guests attended at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • NYWIFT's 20th anniversary year is celebrated with The Feminine Eye: Twenty Years of Women's Cinema, an 8-day international film festival held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, programmed by a panel of leading women film programmers and led by Joy Pereths. Participating filmmakers included Suzana Amaral, Chantal Akerman, Kathryn Bigelow, Helga Sanders Brahn, Jane Campion, Julie Dash, Claire Denis, Safi Faye, Lana Gogoberidze, Marleen Gorris, Angieszka Holland, Ana Hui, Barbara Kopple, Fran Rubel Kuzui, Márta Mézáros, Kira Muratova, Ulrike Ottinger, Euzhan Palcy, Sally Potter, Yvonne Rainer, Moufida Tlatli, Margarethe von Trotta, Ning Ying and Byun Young Joo
  • In June 1999, NYWIFT embarks on a strategic planning process to develop a 5-year plan to guide the organization into the next millennium
  • 1999 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Mary Lea Bandy, chief curator, department of film and video, Museum of Modern Art; Angelica Huston, actor/director; Barbara Kopple, director/producer; Marquita Pool-Eckert, producer; and Cicely Tyson, actor. 1,500 guests attended at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • In May 2000, board approves new 5-year strategic plan
1996-98: Joy Pereths, Board President
  • 1996 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to actor Mary Tyler Moore; actor/performer Rita Moreno; comedian/talk show host Rosie O'Donnell; casting director Juliet Taylor; and independent producer Christine Vachon. Again, comedian Elayne Boosler was the emcee. 1,500 guests attended at the New York Hilton and Towers
  • NYWIFT hosts the 1997 Women in Film and Television International Summit here in NY. Attending the summit were more than 90 representatives of WIFT chapters worldwide and members from Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI), a global organization with a public voice representing and unifying women in film chapters around the world. WIFTI will provide the foundation for dynamic and vibrant global cooperation, making our rich local resources available to all members
  • Executive director Raquel R. Levin resigns, June 1997. Terry Lawler named new executive director
  • 1997 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation to Ruby Dee, actor/writer; Judy McGrath, president, MTV Networks; Mira Nair, writer/ director/producer; Barbara Walters, broadcast journalist; and Dianne Wiest, actor
  • NYWIFT kicks off our 20th anniversary year. The centerpiece of the celebration will be The Feminine Eye, an international women's film festival. NYWIFT also conducted the "put it in the can!" campaign, to raise additional funds for our Women's Film Preservation fund. 
  • Creation of a third NYWIFT scholarship, to a female second-year graduate film student at the City College of New York
  • Spring event/annual members cocktail party: "lights, camera, auction!" — a silent auction, cocktail party, and our 20th birthday bash
1994-96: Harlene Freezer, Board President
  • NYWIFT, in association with the Museum of Modern Art and American Movie Classics founds the Women's Film Preservation Fund — the first effort by women in our industry to raise funds to restore and preserve films in which women have played a significant creative role
  • 1994 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation at the Marriott Marquis Hotel to Lauren Bacall, actor; Grace Blake, film producer and former NYWIFT Board President; Karen Cooper, director of Film Forum; Sally Field, actor; Penny Marshall, actor/director; and Jane Pauley, broadcast journalist. More than 1,100 guests attended
  • Inauguration of the NYWIFT Scholarship Fund, which awards two $2,000 annual scholarships to female second-year graduate film students — one at Columbia University and one at NYU
  • The 1995 spring event was a benefit to launch the Women's Film Preservation Fund. The gala event in the skylight ballroom of the Puck Building, featured entertainment by the Kit McClure band
  • 1995 Muse Awards gala holiday luncheon and presentation for Outstanding Vision and Achievement to Angela Bassett, actor; Diane Keaton, actor/director; Cokie Roberts, broadcast journalist; Gena Rowlands, actor; and film editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Comedian Elayne Boosler served as emcee at the event, held in the grand ballroom of the New York Hilton and Towers, and attended by some 1,200 industry professionals
1992-94: Beth Dembitzer, Board President
  • NYWIF changes the name of our annual fundraiser to the Gala Holiday Luncheon. For the first time, NYWIF honors all Luncheon honorees with the Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement. 1992 recipients include Linda Ellerbee, broadcast journalist; Nora Ephron, writer/director; Kay Koplovitz, president and C.E.O., USA networks; and Diane Sokolow, producer
  • In January 1993, NYWIF officially changes its name to New York Women in Film and Television, Inc (NYWIFT)
  • 1993 spring event: Stand Up for New York — an evening of comedy at town hall, with hosts Joy Behar and Mo Gaffney, and featuring performances by Richard Belzer, Susie Essman, A.J. Jamal, Cathy Ladman, Kevin Meany, Reno, Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara, and the cast of Forbidden Broadway. Comedy Central presented its first Gracie Award, named for the comedian Gracie Allen, to Phyllis Diller for her groundbreaking work in the art of comedy. The show, directed by Phyllis Newman, was followed by a gala party at Laura Belle, a NY club
  • Two stellar master classes held during the 1993-94 program season: "Through the Lens." a master class in cinematography with Allen Daviau, and a master class with production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein
  • 15th Anniversary Gala Holiday Luncheon, at the grand ballroom of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, and presentation of the Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement to Jane Alexander, actor and NEA chair; actor Holly Hunter, Pat Fili-Kruschel, president, ABC daytime and former NYWIFT Board President; broadcast journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault; and Robert de Niro and Jane Rosenthal, founder and president, respectively, of the Tribeca Film Center
  • Executive director Phyllis Schwartz resigns, December 1993. Raquel Levin named executive director, February 1994
1991-92: Grace Blake, Board President
  • Screenplay Reading Workshops created by Viveca Lindfors and Dan Pollack
  • Annual Christmas Luncheon honors Jodie Foster at the Waldorf-Astoria; Muse Awards are presented to producers Linda Gottlieb and Peggy Rajski. 1,040 guests in attendance
  • Spring event: NY premiere of Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own at the Ziegfeld Theatre, followed by an elegant barbecue supper and dancing at Tavern on the Green. Several celebrities attended, including Penny Marshall, Madonna and Robert de Niro. NYWIF shared proceeds with the Sloan Hospital for Women of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. The evening was sponsored by Columbia Pictures and Revlon.
1990-91 Marjorie Kalins, Board President
  • Our third and fourth seminar series at MoMA: the narrative themes and visual styles of film noir and the arts of screen comedy
  • Access Breakfast Series created by Lisa Hackett and Greta Pessin
  • Honored guest speaker Susan Sarandon received an overwhelming standing ovation for passionate and politically charged speech at the 1990 annual Christmas Luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria. Muse Awards are presented to Geraldine Laybourne, president of Nickelodeon, and production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein
  • Rosemary Ricchio named NYWIF administrative director
1989-90: Mirra Bank Brockman, Board President
  • Membership outreach to craftspeople and minorities
  • Master class series, created by Mirra Bank Brockman, inaugurated with a master class in directing with Barry Levinson
  • Inauguration of seminar series in conjunction with MoMA, created by Beth Dembitzer: a 6-week series on screenwriting in the fall, and a 3-week series on the documentary the following winter
  • Director's roundtable held in conjunction with the American Museum of the Moving Image
  • Corporate contributors group created, according to the brilliant design of Lois Bianchi and Marjorie Kalins. First CCG campaign launched — enrolling 16 founding companies and bringing in $20,750
  • Glenn Close is honored guest speaker at the 1989 Annual Christmas Luncheon, at the Hotel Pierre. The board inaugurates the NYWIF Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement. Our first recipients are directors Susan Seidelman and Joan Micklin Silver. 750 guests attend
  • Once again, Governor Mario Cuomo proclaims December 11-17, 1989, New York Women in Film Week, in recognition of 12 years of creative achievements and standards of excellence
  • First actors and men accepted into the membership
  • Women directors exchange with India, coordinated by member Muriel Peters, of the Indo-US Sub-commission on Education and Culture, which sponsored the exchange
  • In January 1990, Joan Micklin Silver, Joan Tewksbury and Terri McLuhan were sent to participate in events in Bombay and Calcutta. The following fall three Indian women directors reciprocated in NY and LA, appearing at our November open meeting at Asia Society
  • NYWIF board restructured and enlarged to 15 members
  • Spring event: celebrity softball in the park
1988-89: Pat Herold, Board President
  • Phyllis Schwartz hired as executive director
  • Sigourney Weaver is honored guest speaker at the 1988 Christmas Luncheon, our last at the Plaza Hotel. She is introduced, and lauded, by her longtime friend and collaborator Christopher Durang
  • Spring event: celebrity softball in the park
1987-88: Pat Fili, Board President
  • Gail Harper hired as first executive director
  • Office manager Rosemary Ricchio's hours increased to a full-time position
  • Brown Bag Lunch series inaugurated by Pat Fill
  • Nancy Leff hired as freelance professional publicist
  • Producer Barbara Corday is honored guest speaker at 1987 Christmas Luncheon
  • First celebrity softball game in Central Park serves as the 1988 spring event
1986-87: Nancy Leff, Board President
  • 520 members, a 2,000% increase over our first year
  • For the first time, board meetings are held throughout the summer
  • First membership poll taken — results reported indicate No. 1 reason for joining NYWIF is to meet peers on a one-to-one basis
  • Membership requirements increased to 5 years' professional experience
  • Creation of the intern/mentor program
  • Creation of member's salons
  • Jessica Lange is honored guest speaker at our Christmas luncheon
  • Office moves to three donated rooms at HBO — which also underwrites our use of all HBO facilities (Xerox machine, office supplies, etc.)
  • NYWIF receives 501(c)3 tax-exempt status
1985-86: Mary Feldbauer Jansen, Board President
  • Second paid employee: a Christmas luncheon coordinator
  • Christmas luncheon moves to the Plaza Hotel and honors Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner
  • 600 guests double the 1984 turnout and sell out the Plaza
  • Spring fundraiser launched. Diane Sokolow recruits the 25 most influential people in the NY film community to sit on the planning committee. Governor Mario Cuomo issues a proclamation declaring Women in Film Week, which Barbara Streisand accepts on our behalf at the event, held at The Saint in the East Village
1983-85: Celeste Gainey, Board President
  • NYWIF programs moved to the more centrally located Viacom conference center
  • First catered open meetings
  • Expanded workshops, screenings and seminars
  • Initiated conversations on film series, with Martin Scorsese as our first speaker
  • 1983 Christmas luncheon honors Meryl Streep
  • Legal counsel Marsha S. Brooks redrafts NYWIF bylaws
  • Establish first NYWIF office that is not in a member's home
  • First paid employee: a part-time office manager
  • 1984 Christmas luncheon honors Goldie Hawn and Anthea Sylbert, to a standing-room-only crowd at New York’s largest restaurant
1982-83: Victoria Hamburg, Board President
  • First national WIF meeting  
  • Christmas luncheon with honored guest speakers Dustin Hoffman (who recently starred in Tootsie) and NYWIF member and producer Renee Schisgal
1981-82: Jeanne Betancourt, Board President
  • Addition of interviews with members to NYWIF newsletter, on issues related to that month’s open meeting
  • Showcase of members' work
  • Second Christmas luncheon, with Robert Benton and Arlene Donovan as honored guest speakers, at the Tavern on the Green
1980-81: Gail Frank, Board President
  • Creation of workshops where speakers could talk on a professional yet candid level
  • Goal to encourage more production work in New York — for the industry and the women within it
  • Membership recruitment of top-level executives and craftspeople
  • Creation of NYWIF logo by member Eleanor Bunin
  • First Christmas Luncheon, honoring Pauline Kael at Barbetta's restaurant, with a full 75% of the membership in attendance
  • First young professional seminar
  • Computerization of mailing list and membership records
  • By 1981, membership had grown to 160
1973-80: Marilyn Casselman, Board President
  • Struggles with creation of a name for the organization (one humorous suggestion: Women in Film Entertainment — WIFE)
  • Membership recruitment, organizational bylaws and structure established, including board terms (2 years), membership requirements (3 years professional experience), and the determination to remain autonomous from the LA chapter.
  • No stationery, no office, no funds and no communal awareness — the spiritual glue that held this group together was all that was needed
July 21, 1978: Certificate of incorporation to New York Women in Film, Inc, issued by New York State. The purpose of the organization is defined as:
  • To create equal opportunities for women who work in the television and film industries;
  • To promote an organization whereby members can exchange professional knowledge and resources with one another;
  • To encourage and help members to achieve high standards of excellence in their professions;
  • To promote goodwill and cooperation between this corporation and the television and film industries;
  • To cooperate with Women in Film groups formed in other states whose goals are similar in scope
Fall 1978: First NYWIF roster published, listing the organization's 52 members.

July 13, 1977: New York producer/director Lenore DeKoven and Hollywood Reporter bureau chief Morna Murphy-Mortell call a meeting of 25 female colleagues in Dekoven's Manhattan apartment to discuss the possibility of forming New York Women in Film — and suddenly the lights went out all across NYC. Could it have been the creation of NYWIF that was the power surge causing the New York City blackout of 1977?

1973: The first chapter of Women in Film is founded in Los Angeles by The Hollywood Reporter's Tichi Wilkerson. The group would serve as a power network to counterbalance the LA old boy's network.

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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.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts