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 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.
Leslie Fields-Cruz, 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.
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.
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.
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).
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 Mitchell-Brown is Head of Industry Engagement for Extreme Reach’s Payroll Solutions division that provides payroll, accounting and labor relations for production casts and crews across the entertainment industry. Flo has spent 20-plus years in the entertainment industry. She spent many years at Entertainment Partners, first as VP and then as SVP of Operations, a role that honed her skills in leadership, production management and production finance. Flo is deeply involved with the production community, serving on the board of New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) and as Chair of the New York Production Alliance (NYPA). In 2018 she co-founded “Give Film,” an organization focused on creating content for change.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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