2019-2020 Board of Directors
Jamie Zelermyer, President
Jamie Zelermyer has been a New York based Producer and Production Executive for the past 20 plus years. Currently she is Producing IFP Week 2019 which is a signature program of the Independent Feature Project (IFP.) Most recently she was the Program Manager of Made In New York: Pilot Competition, a program founded by The Mayor’s Office of Film Media and Entertainment to tackle gender inclusivity in the television industry. Jamie Executive Produced the two winning half hour pilots and Executive Produced season 1 of the winning show entitled Half Life starring Larisa Oleynik and Nancy Giles. Prior to this she produced Ratter starring Ashley Benson and Matt McGorry which was released by Sony Worldwide in March 2016. She was the VP, Physical Production at Focus Features / Rogue Pictures for six years ending in November 2012. At Focus she oversaw such movies as Admission, One Day, Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Prior to Focus Jamie was a Line Producer and Production Manager working on films such as Igby Goes Down, Boys Don’t Cry and You Can Count on Me. Over the years, she has had the privilege to work with a number of notable directors including Steve McQueen, Lone Scherfig, Kenneth Lonergan, Cary Fukanaga and Kimberly Pierce. Jamie is on the board of New York Women in Film and Television, and is an adviser on NYWIFT’s The Writers Lab, a program for female Writer’s over 40 funded by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. She is a graduate of Bard College.
Christine Bragan, VP of Development
As Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Communications for AMC Networks, including AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv and IFC Films, Christine Bragan is responsible for the development and oversight of corporate and industry marketing and public affairs initiatives; trade and promotional activities and events; CEO and executive presentations and appearances; and the management of special cross-divisional projects. In this role, she also supports the communication and marketing efforts for all of the AMC Networks brands and spearheads the company’s marketing presence at national trade shows. Bragan is an active member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Women in Cable Telecommunications and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). She is a graduate of CTAM’s Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School and was named a Next Generation Leader by NAMIC; one of the top 25 local leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS; one of CableFAX’s Most Influential Minorities in Cable and CableFAX’s Women on the Move.
Margarita Sophia Cortes, VP of 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.
Tracy Daniels, Co-VP of Programming
Tracy Daniels is an independent producer whose passion for storytelling has taken her around the globe from New York to New Delhi. She specialized in branded content for clients including Paramount Pictures, Campbell Soup Company, and Lifetime Television. Tracy also worked as a Production Assistant on Great Performances’ The Colored Museum, Warner Bros. New Jack City, and Alma’s Rainbow directed by Ayoka Chenzira. She produced the award winning short After Words: The Opposite of Foreplay which premiered at the 2017 NY International Shorts Film Festival. Tracy currently serves on the Programming, Archive and Documentary committees and is co-leading the development of NYWIFT’s immersive experience programming providing networking and training to women working in virtual, augmented and mixed reality spaces.
Leslie Fields-Cruz, Co-VP of Programming
Leslie Fields-Cruz started at BPM, formerly National Black Programming Consortium, in 2001 managing grant making activities that supported the production and development of documentary programs for PBS. By 2005, she was the Director of Programming, leading the distribution of all funded programs to public television. In 2008, with six independent titles in need of a public television broadcast, Leslie launched AfroPoP: The Ultimately Cultural Exchange, a documentary series highlighting the variety and depth of the global black experience. AfroPoP has garnered several awards and is the only national public television series focused solely on stories from the black experience. In the fall of 2014, Leslie became BPM’s third Executive Director. Though she keeps the pulse on the development of program content and its distribution across public media platforms, she is focused on growing BPM’s resources to enable it to support more stories about the black experience.
Destiny Lilly, VP of Membership
Destiny Lilly is the owner of Destiny Casting, a boutique casting company specializing 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 SVA 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 graduate of Emory University and The Central School of Speech and Drama.
Annetta Marion, VP of Special Events
Annetta Marion is an award-winning director and Primetime Emmy-nominated showrunner who for the last decade has dedicated her life to the craft of making premium television and cultivating a taste for stories that both entertain and inspire. Marion recently wrapped production as a director and the EP/Showrunner on her sixth season of OWN’s acclaimed Emmy-nominated and NAACP Image Award-winning series Oprah’s Master Class. Working on the show since its inception in 2010, before OWN even launched its first broadcast, Marion has overseen all 55 episodes, directed 16, segment directed 24 episodes that is all the “scripted” content in the series, and captured in-depth and remarkably intimate interviews with a wide range of luminaries, such as Berry Gordy, Lenny Kravitz, Dwayne Johnson, James Taylor, Tim McGraw, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson, and Patti LaBelle. Impassioned by the limitless storytelling possibilities of the medium, Marion has created roughly 70 hours of television and is currently directing the series Mission Juno: Journey to Jupiter for NASA. Marion is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors, a member of WIF Los Angeles, an AFI DWW fellow, an active member of the Academy of Television Arts & Science, Film Fatales, Director’s Guild of America, Producer’s Guild of America, and was recently elected to serve on the DGA Eastern Directors Council.
Anita Katzen, Treasurer
Anita Katzen is a tax partner in Shulman Lobel LLP Anita works closely with more than 100 entertainers in all aspects of their business operations. Her services range from tax planning, cash management to corporate, partnership, individual, and estate taxations services. She has successfully represented clients at tax audits on federal, state, and local tax issues. She is a member of the AICPA, NY State Society of CPAs, state society’s Entertainment and Sports committee, currently treasurer of NYWIFT and on the board of The Film Shop. She received her degree in Business and Public Administration from New York University.
Maria Miles, Secretary
Maria C. Miles is the founding partner of an entertainment law firm with offices in New York. Maria’s practice focuses on all areas of entertainment law including, film (narrative and documentary), music, publishing, fashion and new media. Prior to starting her own practice, Maria was general counsel for a multimedia start-up where she oversaw a diverse range of matters including webisode production, technology licensing, trademarks and copyrights. Maria has worked with award-winning producers, directors, writers, actors, television hosts, multi-platinum recording artists, and corporations in the fashion and sports industries related to their entertainment matters. Maria is an Adjunct Professor at The Feirstein Graduate School for Cinema.
Alex Cirillo is a Producer and the Co-Founder of Big Vision Empty Wallet, an inclusion-focused incubator that feeds projects into her production company, Big Vision Creative. She develops unexpected content with women, POC, LGBTQ & differently-abled creators. Her most recent films include The Light of the Moon (SXSW 2017 Audience Award Winner), Lez Bomb (Gravitas/Netflix 2018), Academy Award-Qualifying One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure (TNT/Refinery29, Sundance 2019), and Red, White & Wasted (Tribeca 2019). An active member of NYWIFT for the past decade, Cirillo also serves on the Events Committee for Time’s Up and the Festival Committee for WIP.
Kerry Fulton is Co-founder of Evenfield Entertainment which puts women at the creative and decision-making center. The company will finance and EP commercial movies for underserved diverse global audiences. Kerry previously produced the award-winning films 3D animated Justin and the Knights of Valor and documentary Ana and I. Previously based in Spain, Kerry worked for Sony Pictures Europe, which produced local language films around Europe including Luca Guadagnino’s first feature Melissa P. At Singapore TV12, Kerry served as SVP of Original Programming, EPing multiple genres, including the award-winning mini-series AlterAsians. She is a member of the PGA, BAFTA and WIA. NYU Tisch School of the Arts – BFA Film TV. NYU Stern School of Business EMBA.
Gretchen McGowan is an award-winning producer and the Head of Production for Goldcrest Features in New York City where she oversees titles such as Carol, Mojave, Slumber, Restrepo, Carrie Pilby and Danger, Close. Gretchen has collaborated with Sebastian Junger on five films and she is now working with Junger and Fisher Stevens on a new film about the Mexican cartels and the caravan. Gretchen independently produced Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control, a Focus Features release and Magnolia Pictures’ American Swing. While Head of Production with Mark Cuban’s HDNet Films, Blow Up Pictures and Open City Films she supervised over 25 features including Redacted, Enron, Broken English, Bubble, Lovely and Amazing and Coffee and Cigarettes. She line produced The Dancemaker, Buffalo ’66, Two Girls and a Guy, American Psycho and Heavy.
Zenaida Mendez is the director of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse Community Media center and has over 20 years of experience working on issues affecting women and African descendant people. She has also spoken about the role of the media in perpetuating violence against women and fueling negative stereotypes, electoral politics, and parenting and immigration issues. In 2001, Zenaida was one of the Women of Color Resource Center’s Delegates to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances in Durban, South Africa. Zenaida also has over 10 years of experience working as a public servant: eight years working as a public servant during David N. Dinkins Manhattan Borough Presidency and as NYC Mayor David Dinkins and almost five years at the federal level working for Congressman Charles B. Rangel. Both of these experiences at the private and public sector enrich Mendez’s knowledge on how to be an advocate and help enact legislation. Her selfless activism and leadership have earned her recognition from local, national and international organizations.
Flo brings over 20 years of entertainment industry leadership, management, and production experience to her role as Executive Producer and Co-Founder of Give Film. In recent months, Flo Executive Produced two short films entitled The Unstoppable and Play Dead. She also has extensive experience working with non-profit entities through various Board positions and philanthropic work. She is honored to have served others within her personal and professional communities, and she is extremely proud of her work collaborating and planning events and initiatives in the non-profit sector. Flo currently sits on the Executive Board for NYPA and is past Co-Chair of the NY Lounge at Sundance, along with numerous leadership roles in the community at large.
Kathryn O’Kane is the show runner on Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, a four-part travel culinary series on Netflix. Based on Samin Nosrat’s best-selling, James Beard Award-winning book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is the essential guide to the basic elements of good cooking. Kathryn is currently directing and producing two episodes of a true crime documentary series for CNN produced in conjunction with Jigsaw and Sundance Productions. Kathryn is a non-fiction director/producer with over fifteen years of experience in television, advertising, and web media. She provides content for clients like ABC, IBM, Nike, Sundance Channel, and United Airlines. Kathryn’s strength is telling character-driven stories, and she’s crafted narratives as diverse as Mission Juno, documenting NASA’s probe to Jupiter, and Talking Dead, the hit show for AMC. Having started her career supporting democratic initiatives in Latin America, Kathryn first learned the power of messaging while organizing election observations in the Dominican Republic with President Jimmy Carter. She now seeks to bridge cultural differences through art and storytelling.
Yvonne Russo is an award-winning producer, director and writer of film and television specializing in inspirational Indigenous and cross-cultural stories. As an independent producer, Russo has worked on a diverse range of productions in over 16 countries from Rajasthan, India, to the East African Nation of Rwanda. Recent credits include Woman Walks Ahead; the HBO mini-series Lewis and Clark; Viva Verdi!; and Rescuers: Heroes of the Holocaust. She’s a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Co-Chair of the Producers Guild of America Diversity Committee. She is also a Sundance Institute Lab Fellow and Tribeca All Access Program Fellow, and is on the board of The Language Conservancy, which works to revitalize endangered languages. She’s a contributing author for The Huffington Post and Produced By Magazine. Yvonne Russo is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Tribal Nation.
Rachel Watanabe-Batton is a producer, independent media strategist and president of Contradiction & Struggle, an American production and consulting company dedicated to telling authentic stories that reframe historical and cultural understanding while building robust distribution pathways by connecting film, television and digital creators with capital, causes and global audiences. Watanabe-Batton’s development slate includes two projects with legendary director Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust) — an untitled scripted narrative on Rosa Parks’ early activism and defense of Recy Taylor based on Danielle McGuire’s groundbreaking book At The Dark End of the Street with Invisible Pictures, and is producing partners with Dash on the documentary feature Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl, about the extraordinary life of Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, a James Beard award-winning chef-writer-broadcaster, who used food as a vehicle for activism. Also in the works are narrative feature, The Secret Life of La Mariposa, a magical realist tale by award-winning filmmaker Maria Agui Carter (Rebel); and a limited series, 1850, co-created with writer Lara Stapleton, set in antebellum New Orleans. Watanabe-Batton serves on the Board of Representatives of the Producers Guild of America East (PGA) as a member- at-large, and Board of Directors of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (Chair) and Women Independent Producers (WIP co-founder). She received the MADE IN NY Award from Mayor Bill DeBlasio and The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for her ongoing advocacy as Chair of PGA Diversity and a founding co-chair of PGA Women’s Impact Network.
S. Casper Wong
S. Casper Wong is a New York based writer, director and producer. Her documentary feature, The LuLu Sessions, has won 10 awards and nominations, was on PBS’ America ReFramed series and she received an humanitarian award by the SASS Foundation along with Governor Cuomo. She worked in productions between China and the US since 2005 and has represented Roger Corman in his first co-productions, working with two Chinese studios and a CGI team. Prior to receiving her MFA in Film Directing from NYU, she was Senior Attorney for IBM General Counsel in Silicon Valley and lead counsel for diversity. S. Casper Wong has been a member of NYWIFT since 2008. Since her corporate legal days where she was the also lead attorney for diversity in Silicon Valley and Hudson Valley for IBM, she is acutely aware of the challenges of the chronic under-representation of women and especially women of color in executive decision making. To empower fellow filmmakers, she founded the Asian American Women Media Makers in the spring of 2012, and still chairs a monthly gathering for networking. The group has grown into an ongoing conversation to address the underrepresentation and underemployment of our community in mainstream media.
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.
Gale Anne Hurd
Lisa F. Jackson
Pat Swinney Kaufman
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Mary Tyler Moore
Susan E. Morse
Sarah Jessica Parker
Regina K. Scully
Joan Micklin Silver
Patrizia von Brandenstein
Jane C. Wagner
Simone Pero, Producer, For Impact Productions (CHAIR)
Alexis Alexanian, Producer
Laverne Berry, Attorney
Grace Blake, Producer
Mirra Bank Brockman, Director/Producer
Marsha S. Brooks, Esq., Legal Counsel
Michelle Byrd, Games for Change
Beth Dembitzer, Producer/Director, Arena Pictures
Arlene Donovan, Producer
Alice Elliott, Director/Producer
Patricia Fili- Krushel, Executive
Harlene Freezer, Capstone Entertainment
Ellen C. Geiger, The Frances Goldin Agency
Carey Graeber, Great Plains Productions
Lisa Hackett, Leftfield Entertainment
Linda Kahn, Linda Kahn Media
Marjorie Kalins, Consultant/Producer
Pat Swinney Kaufman, NYS Governor’s Office for Motion Picture &TV Development
Wendy Keys, Producer
Terry Lawler, Terry Lawler Consulting
Alexandra Levi, Element Financial Group
Susan Margolin, New Video Group
Eileen Newman, Tribeca Film Institute
Joy Pereths, Essential Media LLC
Muriel “Mike” Peters, Peters Productions
Terrie Pologianis, AETN
Marquita Pool-Eckert, Eckert Associates
Diane Robina, TV Guide Network
Wendy Sax, Producer
Marcie L. Setlow, Setlow Media
Claire Shanley, Post Producer, HBO’s Divorce
Joan Micklin Silver, SilverFilm
Diane Sokolow, Sokolow & Company
Caren Spruch, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Patrizia Von Brandenstein, Production Designer
Ellen Zalk, Disney-ABC Television