42 Years of NYWIFT – The 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.

Click through our history below to see how we grew from a meeting of 25 colleagues in a Manhattan apartment to a non-profit organization with a membership nearly 2,500 strong.



2019 – 2022: Jamie Zelermyer, Board President

  • NYWIFT presented its first-ever programs at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in 2020. NYWIFT co-presented the panel “Women on the Front Lines: Changing the Game” with AMC Networks, WIF LA and ReFrame at the SundanceTV HQ on Main Street. Panelists included Haifaa al-Mansour, Jackie Cruz, Hanelle Culpepper, Monica Levinson and Ekwa Msangi in a conversation moderated by Arianna Bocco, EVP of Acquisitions and Production, IFC Films. Then, NYWIFT hosted a cocktail reception in celebration of the women of the Sundance Film Festival, including its members with films at the fest, and gave a special award to IFC Films in celebration of its 20 years of championing independent cinema. 
  • NYWIFT celebrates the 40th Anniversary of its Muse Awards on December 10, 2019. Honorees are Ann Dowd (actor), Gloria Estefan (singer/actor/executive), Anjali Sud (CEO, Vimeo), Kasi Lemmons (Nancy Malone Directing Award), and Shoshannah Stern (Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award). As part of the anniversary celebration, a special Career Impact Achievement Award was presented with Jane Rosenthal, CEO of Tribeca Enterprises (Robert DeNiro made a special appearance to congratulate her). The Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment presented its Made in NY Award to NYWIFT member Caroline Hirsch of Carolines on Broadway. Nancy Giles emceed.  
  • Executive Director Cynthia López receives DOC NYC’s Leading Light Award for distinguished service to documentary in a role outside filmmaking in October 2019.
  • The fifth annual Writers Lab retreat takes place October 2019.
  • NYWIFT partners with The Women’s Network of The New York Times Company and 100 Women in Finance for the first installment of its Finance Her panel series, which aims to bridge the gap between filmmakers and the financiers who can help bring their projects to fruition.
  • NYWIFT partners with Women in Film (WIF) LA and The Actors Fund to bring WIF’s Sexual Harassment Hotline to New York. The hotline will have expanded hours to serve East Coast callers, with resources included NY-based pro bono attorneys and free therapeutic services.

2017-2019: Simone Pero, Board President

  • In June 2019, NYWIFT presents its first-ever NYWIFT Summit on Inclusion, Equality and Safety at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. The summit features speakers from government, non-profits, advocacy groups, the press, production companies and more, in a series of targeted discussions focused on the state of the industry and actionable change.
  • The 20th Anniversary 2019 Designing Women Awards are presented to makeup artist Riccie Johnson, hair stylist Shunika Terry, and costume designer Michele Clapton. The Variety Ensemble Award is presented to the team from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The awards take place at the Directors Guild of America Theater for the first time, and feature costumes from both Maisel and the smash-hit series Game of Thrones.
  • The 2018 Muse Awards are presented to: actors Ellen Burstyn and Sarah Jessica Parker, and Netflix VP of Original Comedy and Documentary Programming Lisa Nishimura. The Nancy Malone Directing Award is presented to Tricia Brock, and comedian and activist Maysoon Zayid receives the Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin presents the new MOME Made in NY Award to outgoing NYWIFT Executive Director Terry Lawler.
  • NYWIFT announces the appointment of new Executive Director Cynthia López, whose tenure begins January 1, 2019.
  • Executive Director Terry Lawler receives the Industry Advocate for Women Award from the Hamptons International Film Festival. The award is presented by HIFF ED Anne Chaisson at NYWIFT’s annual Sunday Brunch at the Hamptons.
  • Nicole Kidman lends her support to The Writers Lab 2018, in addition to returning funder Meryl Streep.
  • NYWIFT caps off it’s 40th anniversary year with a special gallery exhibit of photographers of NYWIFT members on the job titled, appropriately, “Women Calling the Shots” at White Box gallery.
  • The NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund (WFPF) brings a series of six programs of Second Wave Feminist films, mostly WFPF preservations, to screen at the Barbican Centre, London, in June 2018.
  • Executive Director Terry Lawler announces that she will end her 21-year tenure at the helm of the organization at the end of 2018.
  • NYWIFT membership reaches an all-time high of 2,400.
  • 2018 Designing Women Awards are presented to makeup artist Martha Melendez, hair stylist Anita Lausevic, and costume designer Dana Covarrubias. The Variety Ensemble Award is presented to the hair, makeup and costume design team from the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle.
  • The Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories series returns to Queens, supported by City Council Member Robert Holden, and expands to include programming in Staten Island thanks to added support from Council Member Joe Borelli.
  • NYWIFT assists USA Today in gathering research from Women in Film chapters across the United States for a groundbreaking study on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, which is released on
  • The 2017 Muse Awards are presented to: actors Laura Dern and Judith Light, and Refinery29 Chief Content Officer Amy Emmerich. The inaugural Nancy Malone Directing Award is presented to Julie Dash, and Regina K. Scully, Founder and CEO of the Artemis Rising Foundation, received the Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin presents the new MOME Made in NY Award to actor and producer Alysia Reiner, and keynote remarks are given by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
  • In the wake of the groundbreaking Harvey Weinstein allegations and start of the #MeToo movement, NYWIFT President Simone Pero is invited to testify before the NYC Human Rights Commission on December 6, 2017 about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. It is the commission’s first public hearing on sexual harassment in in over 40 years.
  • Executive Director Terry Lawler is honored with the Women in Arts & Media Coalition’s VintAge Award.
  • NYWIFT receives a bequest of $340,000 from The Nancy Malone Living Trust and with it, re-names the Nancy Malone Intern/Mentor program and establishes the Nancy Malone Directing Award at the Muse Awards.

2012-17: Alexis Alexanian, Board President

  • Oprah Winfrey lends her support to The Writers Lab 2017, in addition to returning funder Meryl Streep. That year, participant Vigil Chime receives the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from The Academy.
  • 2017 Designing Women Awards are presented to makeup artist Kyra Panchenko, hair stylist Melissa Forney and costume designer Melissa Toth. The Variety Ensemble Award is presented to the costume, makeup and hair team from the smash-hit Netflix Marvel series Jessica Jones.
  • In Spring of 2017, the Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories series expands from five to ten screenings (plus the production workshop for immigrant and first-generation women) thanks to additional funding from Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.
  • 2016 Muse Awards Luncheon honored actors Debi Mazar, Mary-Louise Parker and Martha Plimpton; Firelight Media Co-Founder and President Marcia Smith; and Bloomberg Media COO Jacki Kelley. The Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award was presented to Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!. Nancy Giles returned as host.
  • Strategic planning begins in Fall 2016 in anticipation of NYWIFT’s 40th anniversary.
  • 2016 Designing Women Awards presented to costume designer Sarah Edwards, hair stylist Rose Chatterton and makeup artist Anita Gibson. Variety Ensemble Award presented to the costume, makeup and hair team of The Affair.
  • 2015 Muse Awards Luncheon honored Gabourey Sidibe, actor; Blythe Danner, actor; Patricia Clarkson, actor; Sarah Barnett, President and General Manager of BBC America; Victoria Alonso, Executive Vice President of Physical Production at Marvel Studios. The Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award was presented to producer, comedian and activist Lizz Winstead. Nancy Giles hosted.
  • The Sabrina Wright-Gilliar Award is established in 2015. The scholarship, created in honor of the legendary props master, is given annually to a female graduate of the Academy for Careers in Television and Film (TvF) in Queens.
  • 2015 Designing Women Awards presented to costume designer Ann Roth, hair stylist Francesca Paris and makeup artist Beverly Jo Pryor. Variety Ensemble Award presented to the costume, makeup and hair team of Orange is the New Black.
  • In 2015, NYWIFT establishes its annual Women Directors: Immigrant Stories Series with the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley as part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative of the New York City Council. The series includes five screenings by female directors and/or producers about the New York immigrant experience, plus a one-day media production workshop led by instructors from Third World Newsreel.
  • NYWIFT creates its annual From Script to Pre-Production (FS2P) Program, run by member Elizabeth Page, a six-month intensive in which women writer-directors learn to create pitch packages for independent low-budget features.
  • In partnership with IRIS, NYWIFT creates The Writers Lab for women screenwriters over 40, funded by Oscar winner and Muse honoree Meryl Streep. The Lab will be presented annually in the early Fall.
  • 2014 Muse Awards Luncheon honored Mary Bailey, script supervisor; Maggie Gyllenhaal, actor; Dawn Ostroff, President of Conde Nast Entertainment; and Wanda Sykes, actor. The Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award was presented to filmmaker Abigail Disney.
  • 2014 Designing Women Awards presented to costume designer Renée Ehrlich Kalfus, hair stylist Kerrie Smith and makeup artist Evelyne Noraz. Variety Ensemble Award presented to the costume, makeup and hair team of The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.
  • 2013 Muse Awards Luncheon honored Ellen Barkin, actor; Connie Britton, actor; Robin Wright, actor; Sonia Manzano, actor and writer; and Frances Berwick, President of Bravo and Oxygen Media. The Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award was presented to director, producer and actor Nancy Malone.
  • Advisory Board created strategy to celebrate 35th Anniversary
  • Established the “Jenny” Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service
  • 2013 Designing Women Awards presented to makeup artist Andrea Miller, hairstylist Mandy Lyons and costume designer Deborah Scott. The Variety Ensemble Award presented to the costume, makeup and hair design team of The Americans.
  • 2012 Muse Awards Luncheon honored Mariska Hargitay, actor; Lucy Liu, actor; documentary filmmaker Lisa F. Jackson and Kim Martin, President WE tv. The Loreen Arbus Award For Those Who Take Action and Effect Change was given to Women Make Movies and its Executive Director Debra Zimmerman.
  • Established Nancy Malone Award to help women directors publicize and promote their dramatic features
  • Administered more than $300,000 in Fiscal Sponsorship Grants in FY 13
  • Established the Nancy Malone Marketing and Promotion Grant and the Ravenal Foundation Grant for woman filmmakers.
  • 2014 Muse Luncheon honored Maggie Gyllenhaal, actor; Wanda Skyes, actor: Condè Nast Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff, and Mary Bailey, script supervisor. The Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award was given to Abigail Disney.

2010-12: Alexandra Levi, Board President

  • Engaged in a Strategic Planning Process
  • Conducted member survey
  • Presented a successful series on unions and guilds
  • Established Nancy Malone Grant for directing ($1000)
  • Increased Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant to $7,500
  • Presented a program of short experimental films that had been preserved by the WFPF at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival
  • Established social media ambassador within the Program Committee
  • Administered more than $300,000 in Fiscal Sponsorship donations
  • 2010 Muse Awards Luncheon Honored Cindi Berger, Chairman and CEO of PMK, Pat Swinney Kaufman, Executive Director of the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development and Deputy Commissioner of Empire State Development, Abbe Raven, President and Chief Executive Officer of AETN and Vanessa Williams, Singer and Actor.
  • 2011 Designing Women honored Janie Bryant, Linda Melazzo, and Diana Sikes. The Nurse Jackie hair, makeup and costume design team were also honored with the Variety Ensemble Award. The event was held at Macy’s.

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 Michael 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

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

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

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 Elinor 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

1977-80: 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

Fall 1978

First NYWIF roster published, listing the organization’s 52 members.

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

July 13, 1977

New York producer/director Lenore DeKoven and Hollywood Reporter bureau chief Morna Murphy Martell 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?


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.