Board of Directors

2023-2024 Board of Directors

 

Leslie Fields-Cruz, President

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, Fields-Cruz 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, Fields-Cruz 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.

 

 

Kim Jackson, VP of Development

Kim Jackson is recognized for producing dozens of notable independent films. Her early creative expression began with dance and choreography, and that has remained the spark that ignites her creative passions. Majoring in environmental science, she has a natural curiosity for how things work. “Producers begin food chains which feed all life.”  Technology is of special of interest to Kim, as it relates to serving and advancing humanity. She’s the co-founder of the creative studio Evotion, and is active on several boards, including New York Women in Film & Television, ACE Programs for the Homeless and The Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts and Humanities at Simmons University. Kim is a member of the p.g.a. and Producers Union.

 

 

Christina Kiely, VP of Education & Advocacy

Christina Kiely (Director/Producer/Writer) has been producing and directing documentaries for over 25 years. She wrote, directed and produced ABC News’ first digital documentary series, A Murder On Orchard Street  and co-produced the accompanying podcast to the 7-part series (2018) – which hit #1 on Apple Podcasts. 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, and various documentaries for the International Labor Organization of the United Nations. She is in production on Strong Girls: The Sixsters, a feature documentary about an all-girl Ukrainian rock band who fled the war and became anti-war ambassadors, co-producing and directing with Sean Gullette. And she is in development on Ace to Ace, a docu-series about diversifying the world of tennis and its next generation of stars (James Blake, Chanda Rubin, Ivan Lendl, the Bryan Brothers and more, attached). Kiely is also part of a screenwriting duo with her sister, author Maria Kiely. Their fictional family comedy We Should Celebrate is in development.

 

 

Sibyl Reymundo-Santiago, VP of Special Events

For over 30 years, Sibyl has been involved in film, television and stage production both in the US and Asia working with major studios such as MyxTV, Regal Films, Star Cinema, Metro Style and ABS-CBN Int’l. As President of Sitting Cat Productions, Sibyl has had several films released since 2015 including the Nicholas Brooks’ debut feature film SAM with Executive Producer Mel Brooks and casts that include Morgan Fairchild, Tom Pelphrey & Bryan Batt, ALONE TOGETHER with Philippines stars Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, directed by Antoinette Jadaone, and most recently, the feature film FOLLOW HER starring Luke Cook & Dani Barker, directed by award winning director Sylvia Caminer. Having successfully tackled roles ranging from acting, producing and directing, Sibyl knows firsthand what it takes to bring a story from script to screen. She is a Member of the Board of the NY Women in Film & Television and currently serves as VP of Events. She is an active member of the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA), the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and is a founding member and former Co-Lead of the AAPI Working Group as part of the One Guild Initiative. Sibyl is a recipient of The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York, Arts & Culture Award at Carnegie Hall. Sibyl also remains an active member of both SAG-AFTRA and Actor’s Equity, and has appeared in several film, television, and stage productions in New York City. She is in post on a documentary where she received the p.g.a. mark, while developing her own series. Sibyl serves her 13th year as the Executive Director and Head of Programming for the SOHO International Film Festival. www.sittingcatproductions.com www.sohofilmfest.com  

 

 

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 CarolMojaveWhat Breaks the IceCarrie Pilby and To Olivia.  Gretchen has collaborated with Sebastian Junger on five films, and she is now producing Hell of a Cruise for NBCUniversal, a feature documentary about the cruise industry’s handling of Covid-19.  Gretchen independently produced Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control in Spain for Focus Features and she produced American Swing for Magnolia Pictures.  She line produced the Oscar nominated DancemakerBuffalo ’66Two Girls and a GuyAmerican Psycho and Heavy. While head of production with Mark Cuban’s HDNet Films, Open City Films and Blow Up Pictures, Gretchen supervised over 25 features including RedactedEnronBroken EnglishBubbleLovely and Amazing and Coffee and Cigarettes.  

 

 

Joyce Pierpoline, Secretary

Joyce Pierpoline is a producer of award-winning films and founder of Pierpoline Films, based in New York. She recently executive produced Mediha, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at DOC NYC 2023; other films include The Listener, starring Tessa Thompson and directed by Steve Buscemi, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival; The Transfiguration, at the Cannes Film Festival; Sundance award-winning cult favorite Teeth, considered one of the top 10 political horror films of all time; Happy Tears, Angelica, and the multi awarding-winning first film by Neil Labute, In the Company of Men. Prior to producing, Joyce was a production and acquisitions executive for French studio UGC, where she was instrumental in the acquisition and co-production of numerous titles from some of the world’s most acclaimed filmmakers, including Ang Lee, Christopher Nolan, Kenneth Branagh, and Terry Gilliam. She began her career in France as head of international press for the Cannes Film Festival. She serves as Chair of  the Board of BAFTA North America, and is member of the European Film Academy, European Producers Club, International Emmys, and Producers Guild of America, where she co-founded the Women’s Impact Network, promoting gender equality in the industry.

 

 

 

 

Sirad Balducci

Sirad Balducci is an independent feature film producer based in New York, with over 25 years of experience. Fueled by a passion for supporting creative visions that drive positive change, she works closely with talented directors and writers to bring incredible stories to life. As one of the founders of the Give Film Foundation, Balducci strongly believes in the profound power of film to make a social impact. Her award-winning short film Generation Lockdown, which she wrote and directed, sheds light on the traumatic psychological effects experienced by children in the face of the gun epidemic. Currently, she is writing and developing a new feature film focusing on mental health and inspired by the Rainbow Roll for the End of AIDS, a cross-country inline skating event she produced and documented in 1994. Balducci is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and represented by Gersh NY.

 

 

 

Kia Brooks

Kia Brooks is the Deputy Director of The Gotham Film and Media Institute. Her experience in strategic communications (including PR and Marketing) and events spans over a decade and she enjoys supporting and advising creators and entrepreneurs in taking the next steps in their projects and careers. At The Gotham, she oversees the organization’s programming, communications and supports the organization’s development efforts. Brooks is the founder of The Gotham’s Owning It program that supports women and non-binary media makers and entrepreneurs who break boundaries in the media and entertainment industry. She also developed the Expanding Communities program, which is dedicated to providing resources, a community space, and industry access to individuals with Disabilities and Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and LGBTQIA+ creators across film, TV, and audio industries. Through partnerships with organizations aligned with uplifting historically excluded voices, the program acts as a platform for both creators and organizations to reach new audiences, develop networks of potential collaborators, and access career advancement resources and opportunities within the media and entertainment industry. Previous to working at the Gotham, Brooks worked in film publicity for companies such as Focus Features, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Tribeca Film Festival. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Communication from American University and is currently enrolled in a Fundraising Certificate Program at New York University.

 

Shruti Ganguly

Shruti Ganguly is a filmmaker and writer based between New York City and Oslo. Shruti was a member of the Obama Administration’s ECCO committee of 30 leaders and creators in entertainment, chairing its Asian Caucus, and is on the Creative Council for Emily’s List. She has produced several feature and short films (including Spirit-winner H., and the Nora Ephron Prize-winner Initials SG) that have premiered at Sundance, Venice, Tribeca, Telluride, and Berlin. Ganguly is currently writing for Secret Daughter for Amazon Studios, which will star Priyanka Chopra and Sienna Miller, directed by Cannes-winner Anthony Chen. Ganguly developed and will EP Flossy, a half-hour comedy with writer/comedian Kerry Coddett, and EP Robin Thede, set up at Warner Bros and Showtime, and she will be an EP and writer on the half-hour TV series Brown Baby, which is in development with Bad Robot/Warner Bros and will star Himesh Patel. Ganguly has directed and produced commercials, short and feature docs, music videos and branded content, ranging from clients like Nike, Netflix, Michael Kors, MUNCH, and so on, through her production company honto88. In addition, Ganguly started Prism Entertainment with producers Megha Kadakia and Priya Giri Desai to focus on high-quality, South Asian-focused film and TV content. Previously, Ganguly worked at NYLON, MTV, and Conde Nast, producing the Clio-winning 73 Questions series. She is a co-founder of the Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective born out of the Women’s March that brings together artists and activists to use music and joy as an act of resistance. Ganguly is a published writer (Nevertheless We Persisted, Penguin) and a contributing writer for The Juggernaut. Ganguly received her Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, and went to NYU’s dual MFA/MBA program at Tisch and Stern. She hails from India, by way of Oman.

 

Amenya Makuku

Amenya Makuku is an independent producer and the Head of Development and Production for 4TH Power Films (FX’s Kindred), with previous tenures at Edward Norton’s Class 5 Films, Thanks For Sharing (Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pink), and FilmNation Entertainment, (Oscar-nominated Room; Oscar-nominated Arrival). Amenya is currently in post production on Craig Webster’s Woman in the Cabinet. She co produced director Josephine Decker’s Sundance 2018 smash Madeline’s Madeline, (released by Oscilloscope). 4th Power’s slate includes the projects, Uncatchable (in-development with Apple and Appian Way; based on the GQ article Uncatchable by Michael Finley); Marrying Anita: A Quest for Love in the New India (based on the memoir by Anita Jain); Border Hacker (based on the nonfiction novel by Levi Vonk and Axel Kirschner); Alfie (based on the novel by Christopher Bouix); Sometimes I trip on How Happy We Could Be (based on the memoir by writer, podcaster and culture commentator Nichole Perkins); Kinky Gazpacho (based on the memoir Life, Love & Spain by Lori L. Tharps). Amenya has additionally produced the shorts HereHeideeCrone’s DiseaseThe Middlegame and Linda She is the Film/TV advisor for theatre-incubator The Playwright’s Realm. She additionally supports/mentors for The Writers Lab.

 

Neyda Martinez

Neyda Martinez a producer, strategist, writer, and a long-time cultural worker who explores the role of art in public life while centering social justice and cultural equity. Selected in 2023 as a Sundance Woman to Watch x Adobe Fellow, and a Faculty Fellow for the Mellon Initiative for Inclusive Faculty Excellence, Neyda’s current documentaries in production include Bartolo and A Chasm in Chinatown. Past documentary credits include Lucky (2014); and Decade of Fire, PBS’ Independent Lens 2020 Audience Award winner. For over a decade she was a communications strategist for AMDOC/American Documentary’s POV and America Reframed series, managing publicity, marketing and branding efforts with local, regional and national partners. Neyda serves on the editorial board of NYU’s Latinx Project IntervenXions and on the nonprofit boards of Pepatián, UPROSE, and Women Make Movies. Presently, she is an Associate Professor in the School of Media Studies, Director of the Media Management Graduate Program and Co-Director of the Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative at The New School.

 

Zenaida Mendez

Zenaida Mendez has been awarded the 2022 prestigious Jewell Ryan White Award for Cultural Diversity from the Alliance of Community Media. This annual award is given to persons who show an outstanding contribution to a process that encourages, facilitates, or creates culturally diverse and/or non-mainstream community involvement in the field of community media. Mendez holds the esteemed position of Director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center. Mendez 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 and has many years of experience working as an advocate for women’s and LGBTQI+ rights, as well as economic, racial and environmental justice. She also develops dynamic event-based programming initiatives, including developing partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups. She is currently Executive Producer of the monthly facilitated MNN Productions: Both Sides of the Bars, Radical Imagination, Critica, NY, Punto de Vista, Makilala TV the only National Filipino-American TV Program, Femenismo Global with former NYC Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, Health Action TV with Former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Forward Together: Bishop William J. Barber II and the Poor People’s Campaign. As a filmmaker, Mendez collaborated on the film Coffee and a Donut the 2019 Best Short film by Independence Latino Film Festival NYC, Int’l Indie works (Audience Choice Award); SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Short film Showcase, and Dominican film Festival showcase. She is Co-Producer Clandestiny, the Artemis Award-winner Women in Action Film.

 

 

Okema T. Moore

Okema T. Moore is an Emmy-nominated PGA producer and rising director, as well as a writer and actor. A 2021 Directing Fellow for Minorities In Film’s inaugural branded lab, she has directed and produced content for the likes of Lifetime, Netflix, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, FOX, and Disney/Marvel. 2021 also marked Okema’s first Showrunner title, as she showran and directed BRIC TV’s first late night variety talk show, Hella Late! with Hollie Harper. This banner year also included serving as director and EP for a new sketch series presently being shopped. Prior to being a for-hire director, Okema began to stretch her directing muscle with her own indie work and a series of award-winning short plays off-off Broadway. Since then, she’s built a successful career producing  TV shows such as Kenya Barris’ Klutch Academy for BET, and Beat Bobby Flay andThe Kitchen on The Food Network. Okema has also produced a host of unscripted shows and documentaries/docu series including Oprah’s Color of Care, Founding In Color Season 2 on Peacock, and Nomad with Carlton McCoy on CNN. However, her heart is now geared towards a focus in scripted television and navigating a successful career in that world.  Okema serves on the boards of NYWIFT and the Black TV & Film Collective. She is committed to continuing to lift while she climbs, to build up womxn, queer, IPOC and Black creatives, as she simultaneously strives for a successful future as a TV writer, director, and showrunner.

 

 

Audrey Rosenberg

Audrey Rosenberg is a NY-based, Peabody-Award-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmaker known for her ability to cultivate talent, develop material and champion projects from inception through to release. She has recently been focusing on writing and directing in both the documentary and narrative space. Audrey has a unique ability to remain outside the Hollywood system while also working within it to promote authentic storytelling and to advocate for healing projects that deserve visibility. 

Audrey co-founded Invisible Pictures, a NY-based woman-led production company focused on authentic representation, and has since returned to independent producing. For Invisible, Audrey was lead producer and co-writer on the award-winning HBO Original documentary Katrina Babies that premiered at Tribeca 2022 in competition and aired on HBO August 2022. She produced the award-winning film Bull, which premiered at Cannes 2019, Executive Produced the series Soul City (with JEEN-YUHS: A KANYE TRILOGY directors Coodie&Chike) which premiered on Topic in April 2020, and produced the feature Long Weekend, which was released by Sony in March 2021. Audrey is an EP on Sandi Dubowski’s highly anticipated Sabbath Queen which world premiered at Tribeca 2024. Other credits include EP (with Steven Soderbergh) on the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary His Way, and EP on HBO’s Emmy-winning By The People: The Election Of Barack Obama (with Edward Norton). Audrey was part of the producing team on Douglas McGrath’s Infamous (starring Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, and Toby Jones). She produced Sean Gullette’s award-winning feature, Traitors, Co-EP’d Dawn Porter’s award-winning Trapped and was Consulting Producer for the multi-award winning and Academy-Award nominated I Am Not Your Negro. Audrey’s upcoming projects include partnership with such artists and collaborators as Killer Films, Sharon Stone, Dominique Morriseau, Andre’ Holland, Oliver Stone, Leslye Headland, Radical Media and One Community, to name a few.  Audrey is also a member of the Television Academy, the newly formed Producer’s Union, and the Producers Guild of America.

 

Yvonne Russo

Yvonne Russo is an award-winning film and television producer, director, and writer specializing in Indigenous and cross-cultural stories.  As an independent producer, Russo has worked in 17 countries, from Rajasthan, India, to the East African Nation of Rwanda.  She is currently directing Ring of Fire: The Life of Annie Mae Aquash for HULU/ONYX Collective and in post-production on VIVA VERDI! She is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, The Producers Guild, and a contributing author for Produced By Magazine and The Huffington Post. She is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation. 

 

 

 

 

 

Emelyn Stuart

Emelyn Stuart embodies all things are possible when you marry purpose, passion, serious work ethic and commitment. Producing wasn’t an obvious path for this businesswoman who doesn’t deem herself an innate “creative” but it has proven to be a great fit for an extraordinary woman that has allowed making a difference propel her to uncharted territory. With a degree in business and less than a decade in the industry, Stuart has exemplified leadership and provided inspiration to filmmakers globally. A vast range of projects that includes a successful off-Broadway play makes Stuart different from her collaborators, but also garners her recognition internationally. Her wildly successful web series, 12 Steps to Recovery, earned Emelyn the Best Producer award at the 2011 LAWebfest. Stuart is partly responsible for multiple award-winning feature films including The Turnaround and Title VII. Her feature film Life Is Too Short premiered to sold out audiences in New York during its debut screening and in 2017 it was awarded Best Feature Film domestically and internationally at various film festivals. In 2018, Stuart opened an independent movie theater in New York called Stuart Cinema & Cafe. It will offer distribution deals to independent filmmakers and be a resource hub for artists. Now in 2022, she is building a multiplex movie theater in NY. This will make her the first Afro Latina to own a multiplex in NY. 

 

 

Kuye Youngblood

Kuye Youngblood is an Emmy award-winning producer with experience in scripted, documentary, stand-up comedy, and concert captures with a focus on series, shorts, and features. Formerly the Head of Development and Production, she is currently the General Manager of the BRIC TV network. Her responsibilities include creative development from script to screen, managing a team of dynamic filmmakers, and sourcing distribution opportunities for new film works. Her EP work has screened at Tribeca, Sundance, The Lower East Side Film Festival, New Voices in Black Cinema, Hot Docs, ABFF, UrbanWorld, Bentonville, Bushwick Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, and Seattle International Film Festival, among others. Original series include The Show About the Show, Brooklynification, Dinette, All Hail Beth, the Inspector Ike feature film, and the animated series United Space of America. She’s been a speaker and mentor at SXSW, a juror with SeriesFest, and a producer/moderator for IFP panels. She was also Series Producer for Neighborhood Beat, a show about her hometown of Brooklyn!

 

 

Marsha S. Brooks, Esq., Legal Counsel to NYWIFT

Marsha S. Brooks is a partner in the New York City law firm of Brooks & Distler. She has worked primarily in the areas of entertainment and intellectual property law for over 30 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” technology. She is general counsel for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre and New York Women in Film and Television, Inc. Brooks served as co-Vice Chair of the Theatre and Performing Arts Division of the ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries. Brooks has been a guest lecturer on a variety of subjects in the areas of intellectual property and arts-related law at, among others, Stanford University School of Law, Columbia University School of Law, Fordham Law School, New York University School of Law, Hofstra Law School, Commercial Theater Institute, Symposia of the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries, Showbiz Expo East and Duke University.

 

President’s Circle

Jamie Zelermyer, Producer (CHAIR)
Alexis Alexanian, Producer
Laverne Berry, Law Office of Laverne Berry
Grace Blake, Producer
Mirra Bank Brockman, Director/Producer
Marsha S. Brooks, Esq., Brooks & Distler (Legal Counsel to NYWIFT)
Beth Dembitzer, Producer/Director, Social Cinema
Alice Elliott, Director/Producer
Patricia Fili- Krushel, Executive
Harlene Freezer, Capstone Entertainment
Ellen C. Geiger, Frances Goldin Literary Agency, Inc.
Carey Graeber, Great Plains Productions
Terry Greenberg, Producer, Short and Sweet Productions
Lisa Hackett, Leftfield Entertainment
Wendy Keys, Producer
Terry Lawler, TLC Company
Alexandra Levi, Element Financial Group
Susan Margolin, St. Marks Productions
Annetta Marion, Director
Eileen Newman, President of Eileen Newman Consulting
Joy Pereths, Essential Media LLC
Simone Pero, Producer, For Impact Productions
Terrie Pologianis, A+E Networks
Marquita Pool-Eckert, Eckert Associates
Diane Robina, TV Guide Network
Wendy Sax, Producer
Marcie L. Setlow, Setlow Media
Claire Shanley, Producer
Diane Sokolow, Sokolow & Company
Caren Spruch, National Director, Arts & Entertainment Engagement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Patrizia Von Brandenstein, Production Designer
Ellen Zalk, Fractional Chief Operations Officer

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