2020-2021 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 writers 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.
Alex Cirillo, VP of Special Events
Alex Cirillo is a producer, director, and the Co-Founder of Big Vision Empty Wallet. She serves as the VP of Special Events on NYWIFT’s Board of Directors and the Advisory Board for the WGA & MOME’s Made in NY Writers Room Fellowship. In her 13 years in the industry, she has produced 11 feature films, which have premiered at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Palm Springs and Bentonville film festivals. She is currently producing The Captain, ESPN’s new 6-part documentary about Derek Jeter and the NY Yankees, directed by Randy Wilkins and EP’d by Spike Lee, slated for release in 2022.
Leslie Fields-Cruz, VP of Programming
Leslie Fields-Cruz started at Black Public Media, 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.
Yvonne Russo, VP of Membership
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. She is currently directing, Ring of Fire: The Life of Annie Mae Aquash and currently in post-production on VIVA VERDI!. Recent credits include Woman Walks Ahead, the HBO mini-series, Lewis and Clark 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, 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.
Gretchen McGowan, Treasurer
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.
Joyce Pierpoline, Secretary
Joyce Pierpoline is an independent film producer and founder of Pierpoline Films, best known for producing controversial, character-driven narratives that tackle issues of gender and sexuality. Her most recent film, The Transfiguration, premiered in Un Certain Regard-Cannes Film Festival, other films include Sundance award-winning cult favorite Teeth, Happy Tears, Angelica, and In the Company of Men. She currently serves on the board of BAFTA-NY where she is co-chair of the film and television committee. She is member of the European Producers Club, the European Film Academy, and the Producers Guild of America where she was founding co-chair of the Women’s Impact Network, promoting gender equality in the industry. Joyce began her career in Paris as head of international press for the Cannes Film Festival.
Sirad Balducci has worked over 25 years as an independent producer/director based in New York City and has worked with notable filmmakers such as Julian Schnabel, Julien Temple, Peter Masterson, Nick Cassavetes, Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg, and Homeland creator Michael Cuesta among many others. Producing credits include Into Character series for AMC, and Peter Berg’s Disney/Imagine Television series Wonderland for ABC. In feature films, Balducci line produced/co-produced Anamorph, A Little Help, Gun Hill Road, The Longest Week, Jack of the Red Hearts, Youth in Oregon, The Lennon Report, Growing Up and Other Lies, Rise Up, and Hide & Seek. Producing credits include Roadie (directed by Michael Cuesta), Are You Joking, and The Man on Her Mind.
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.
After a stint in LA working at Disney/Touchstone Television, Kim Jackson came back to NY and joined the Local 161 while working at Universal Pictures for Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee. She founded Streetwise Pictures and her critically acclaimed production, Blue Caprice — seen in theaters across the country — premiered at Sundance and was the opening night film at New Directors/New Films at MoMA in 2013. She has been the driving force behind more than a dozen award-winning and theatrically released independent films. Frustrated with the lack of revenue reporting and accountability, she co-founded SingularDTV, a blockchain “Entech” studio, and is building rights (tracking), revenue and royalty payment software operated by blockchain technology. Breaker Studios, the production division of SDTV, produces and distributes feature films from around the world. Kim is a PGA member, an Artist Academy member of Film at Lincoln Center and an alumnus of Simmons University, serving on the Dean’s Council of the Gwen Ifill School of Media, Arts and Humanities, as well as an active board member of ACE Programs for the Homeless.
Christina Kiely has been producing and directing documentaries for over 23 years. Most recently she wrote and produced ABC News’ first digital documentary series, A Murder On Orchard Street. Kiely also co-produced the accompanying podcast to the seven-part series. In 2004 she was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the ABC News documentary series NYPD 24/7. While at ABC she also produced for the series In the Jury Room and the weekly news magazine Primetime Mondays. Outside of ABC, Christina has produced and directed numerous programs, including the A&E Biography of Yo-Yo Ma, 12 hours of the TLC series Code Blue, the PBS weekly news magazine Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television, as well as various documentaries for the International Labor Organization of the United Nations, including a co-production on migrant farm workers with the PBS series NOW. She recently directed a PSA for Rebuilding Together NYC.
Amenya Makuku is an independent producer and the new Head of Development for Wilderness Films, with previous tenures at Edward Norton’s Class 5 Films (Thanks for Sharing) and FilmNation Entertainment (Room, Arrival). Her in-depth development background is reinforced by an education in production legal, acquisitions and international pre-sales. Amenya co-produced director Josephine Decker’s Sundance smash Madeline’s Madeline (Berlinale 2018, BAM 2018). She recently produced the TV-length pilot for web-series Addie & Addy. Amenya is in development on a number of film and TV projects including collaborations with Debra Granik, Anne Rossellini, and Joy Goodwin. She is the Film and TV Advisor for The Playwright’s Realm (2017 Pulitzer Finalist The Wolves).
Zenaida Mendez is Director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse Community Media. Zenaida has an intensive career in public service, community activism, television production, and filmmaking. As a social justice activist she is an avid voice for tolerance, has many years of experience working as an advocate for women’s, & LGBTQI+ rights, as well as economic, racial and environmental justice.
She first became involved in public access television as a member of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) board of directors and as an independent television program producer. In 2006, she became MNN’s Director of External Affairs and as such was responsible for leading a successful outcome of the cable television re-franchising process. In 2015, Ms. Mendez became Director of MNN’s newest television studio in East Harlem/El Barrio, in New York City and is responsible for strategic and operational management of the Media Center. She also develops dynamic event-based programming initiatives, including developing partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups. Ms.
Mendez earned a BA in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the City University of New York, Graduate School of Public Affairs.
Okema T. Moore
Okema T. Moore is a PGA producer and rising director. She has creative produced and/or directed projects ranging from the narrative 2019 ABFF winner Little Apple – to branded content for Lifetime, Netflix, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, FOX, BET and DOVE. She is an alum of the Tribeca Film Festival and has a Telly and Webby Award for 2021. Okema has also produced shows for the Food Network, TLC, BET and OWN. Most recently she produced a new follow-doc series dropping on BET this fall, was the showrunner for BRIC TV’s first late-night talk show, and Creative Produced/ Directed most of this year’s CultureCon@ Home 2021, which was virtually attended by over 20k participants. She also produced – during the pandemic – the EMMY Nominated PBS/American Masters docuseries Unladylike2020. She was one of five chosen Fellows Minority in FILM’s inaugural Branded Lab for commercial and branded directors and helps run the Black TV & Film Collective’s Black Producer Fellowship. Okema also serves as the chair of the programming committee for the BTFC Board of Directors and is a newly elected member of the Board of Directors for New York Women in Film & Television.
Kathryn O’Kane is currently the show runner and director of the Disney+ docuseries Parenting Without Borders, which examines how culture shapes parenting around the world and is hosted and executive produced by Jessica Alba. Kathryn was also the show runner of the James Beard award-winning Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, a four-part travel culinary series on Netflix based on Samin Nosrat’s best-selling book of the same name. Kathryn recently directed and produced episodes of Death Row Stories, a true crime documentary series for CNN. 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, OWN, Nike, Discovery and Sundance Channel. Her strength is telling character-driven stories, and she’s crafted narratives as diverse as Mission Juno, documenting NASA’s probe to Jupiter; Talking Dead, the hit show for AMC; and commercial assignments for United Airlines, SAP and Kellogg’s. 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.
Audrey Rosenberg is a Peabody-Award-winning, Emmy-nominated producer, known for her ability to cultivate talent, develop material, and champion projects from inception to release. She co-founded Invisible Pictures, a NY-based woman-led production company focused on authentic representation. For Invisible, Audrey produced Bull, which premiered at Cannes 2019; Executive Produced the series Soul City, which premiered on Topic in April 2020; and produced Long Weekend, which was released by Sony in March 2021. Other credits include Executive Producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary His Way and Executive Producer on HBO’s Emmy-winning By the People: The Election of Barack Obama. Audrey was part of the producing team on Douglas McGrath’s Infamous. She produced Sean Gullette’s award-winning feature Traitors, Co-Executive Produced Dawn Porter’s Trapped, and was consulting producer for the Academy-Award nominated I Am Not Your Negro. Audrey has been recognized for her commitment to systemic change, and for her belief in storytelling to raise consciousness and promote healing.
For over 30 years, Sibyl Santiago has been involved in film, television and stage production in the US and Asia, working with major studios such as Regal Films, Star Cinema and ABS-CBN Global. As President of Sitting Cat Productions, Sibyl has had several films released including the film Sam with Executive Producer Mel Brooks. She is an active member of NYWIFT and the Producers Guild of America where she is Co-Lead of the AAPI Working Group as part of the One Guild Initiative. She also remains an active member of SAG-AFTRA and has appeared in several film, stage, television, and Off-Broadway productions in New York City. Sibyl is a recipient of The Outstanding Filipino Americans in NY — Arts & Culture Award at Carnegie Hall. She is in development on a few projects and working on the release of the documentary Nomad Cowboys, where she received the p.g.a. mark. Sibyl serves her 11th year as the Executive Director & Head of Programming for the SOHO International Film Festival.
Rachel Watanabe-Batton has been a producer of film, tv and popular culture for more than 20 years. She founded NY-based production company Contradiction and Struggle to connect cinema, causes and capital and create authentic content that cultivates community, diversity and empathy. Current projects include the documentary Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl with NYWIFT Muse and Nancy Malone Directing Awardee Julie Dash, which is based on chef Vertamae Grosvenor’s memoir cookbook and received a 2019 National Endowment for the Humanities production grant. She was a 2019 IFP Week Creator/Fellow for the documentary with Dash, and narrative series 1850 about mixed couples, migration and polarized politics during an epidemic (co-created with NYWIFT member Lara Stapleton). Her work has been supported by grantors including NEH, NEA, Black Public Media, Ford Foundation and Radcliffe. Rachel is an in-demand consultant, moderator, speaker and juror at film festivals and conferences, and known for spearheading diverse inter-guild readings, women’s industry mixers and the popular Celebration of Women parties during Tribeca and Sundance. She was honored by Mayor Bill DeBlasio and former NYC MOME Commissioner Cynthia Lopez with the MADE IN NY Award for her leadership as Producers Guild of America East Vice Chair, PGA Diversity Committee Chair (2008-2018) and co-founder of PGA Women’s Impact Network. She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (largest media access center in the U.S.) and on the boards of New York Women in Film & Television, and Women Independent Producers. Rachel is committed to creating quality storytelling and cultivating gender, race and class equity for a more humane world.
S. Casper Wong
Casper S. Wong is an award-winning New York-based filmmaker, technology lawyer, and social entrepreneur. Her documentary feature debut, The LuLu Sessions, has won 10 international awards and nominations in every major category, with a US broadcast on PBS’s World Channel as part of the America ReFramed Documentary Series. She received a Humanitarian Award from the SASS Foundation for Medical Research for her film’s social impact on the emotional complexities of breast cancer. She is the Creator of the Peace Pod Project, a multi-platform VR/AR/XR dedicated space for facilitating reconciliation between 2 people. She has directed and produced in China since 2005 and served as the studio executive for Roger Corman’s first co-production with China. She is currently in development on several sci-fi and animation projects.
Casper’s work has been screened and distributed internationally. She is a two-time winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Screenwriting Grants; a New York State Council on the Arts Grantee; Sloan Fellow at the Hampton’s International Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab; a nominee for the Directors Guild of America’s Best Student Film; the winner of the Special Jury Award of the Golden Horse at the Taipei Film Festival.
Prior to receiving her MFA from NYU in directing, Casper was Senior Attorney for IBM General Counsel, and received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University. She is the Founder of Asian American Women Media Makers, and is on the Board of Directors at New York Women in Film and Television, leading its Innovation Initiative.
Kuye Youngblood is an Emmy award-winning producer with experience in scripted and documentary series. She is currently the Head of Development & Production at BRIC TV. Her responsibilities include creative development of new series including The Great Pretender with filmmaker Nathan Silver (Tribeca) and managing a team of dynamic media makers. Her EP work screened at Tribeca Film, Sundance, New Voices in Black Cinema, Hot Docs, ABFF, and Bentonville. Original series include The Show about the Show, Brooklynification, Dinette, and All Hail Beth. She’s a Speaker at SXSW and SeriesFest and a producer/moderator for IFP panels. She was also series producer for Neighborhood Beat, a show about her hometown Brooklyn!
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
Beth Dembitzer, Producer/Director, Arena Pictures
Alice Elliott, Director/Producer
Patricia Fili- Krushel, Executive
Harlene Freezer, Capstone Entertainment
Ellen C. Geiger, The Frances Goldin Agency
Carey Graeber, Great Plains Productions
Terry Greenberg, Producer, Short and Sweet Productions
Lisa Hackett, Leftfield Entertainment
Linda Kahn, Linda Kahn Media
Lilian Kandt, BNY Mellon
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
Annetta Marion, Director/Producer
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