Letter from Our CEO – November 2022

The NYWIFT team at the Hamptons (from left): Katie Chambers, Rashiek Smart, Cynthia Lopez, and Easmanie Michel


November 22, 2022

Dear NYWIFT Family:

Happy Thanksgiving! How are you living in year three of the pandemic? Isn’t it exhausting some days? Constantly dealing with the unknown: the outcome and ramifications of the elections, the radical threats to our reproductive rights, inflation, and the everyday impact of climate change. One day it’s brutally hot, the next it’s freezing. The key, I find, is learning to be adaptable at every turn. Trying to achieve work and life balance is proving quite hard. Most people will say they are working the hardest they have ever. I hope that you can see we have been working diligently to develop a hybrid model of membership services. We hope you have enjoyed the level of diverse programming and membership networking opportunities we have done to inspire engagement during this time.

NYWIFT at SOHO (from left): Jenn Shaw, Emily Friedman, Katie Chambers, and Sibyl Reymundo-Santiago


The transition to doing programs in-person has taught us many things, mostly that it is difficult to predict attendance given life’s demands. However, we have had some amazing events, including:

  • Our Hamptons Brunch held in partnership with the Hamptons International Film Festival was attended by over 300 people, along with a packed house that afternoon at the theater for the Women Calling the Shots curated program featuring the work of Hanna Gray Organschi, Winter Dunn, Zahida Pirani, Elizabeth Lo, Elizabeth Chatelain, and Gabriella Aguirre.

  • The NYWIFT Member Screening of Dina Amer’s You Resemble Me at the Angelika was attended by over 100 people and the Q&A, moderated Sr. Director of Community & Public Relations Katie Chambers, was riveting. The focus of the discussion was on Muslim representation in media and the role of journalists in shaping our perceptions and biases.

  • Our NYWIFT board member and Festival Director at the Soho Film Festival, Sibyl Reymundo-Santiago offered us a unique partnership opportunity and we were able to curate a program of NYWIFT members’ work that included directors Jenn Shaw, Julie Neira Campoverde, and Emily Friedman. The program was featured at the Village East by Angelika and was followed up by a Q&A and NYWIFT networking reception.

Thank you to all who attended these and our other in-person programs. We encourage you to please keep coming out with us – the more attendance we have at our in-person programs, the more we can provide to you going forward.

NYWIFT Talks continues to stay on the pulse of what is happening in our industry and provide diverse viewpoints of important social issues impacting us during the third year of the pandemic.

Our virtual programming, if you missed it, included coverage of important topics like: Puerto Rico and the impact of climate change with filmmakers, journalists, and activists in conversation. You can watch the replay here.

We also curated a roundtable conversation with filmmakers and advocates in discussion about Roe vs Wade.  Watch NYWIFT Talks: The Future of Reproductive Rights here.   

The NYWIFT Member Screening Q&A for You Resemble Me (from left): Katie Chambers, director/writer/producer/actor Dina Amer, and producer Elizabeth Woodward


Finally, Rashiek and I had the pleasure and distinction of attending the 8th annual NYWIFT: The Writers Lab program created and developed by Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon and funded in part by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. Full details here. It was held at Kaatsbaan Lodge is in Saugerties, NY, with 13 writers and 20 mentors in attendance (both in-person and virtually). I had the honor of giving feedback during pitch sessions, moderated a conversation with Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Lisa Cortés, and gave a brief presentation about my career and NYWIFT’s work.

All of the writers and mentors will receive a NYWIFT membership and we look forward to their contributions to our organization. They include: participants Shari Albert, Stephanie Bast, Kelly Campbell, Nic Cohen, Francine Daniels, Rebecca Dreyfus, Gwen Goodkin, Tamara Maloney & Maeve McQuillan, Zuri Rice, Arianna Ortiz, Roses Urquhart, and Robin Shanea Williams; and mentors Amy Fox, Susan Cartsonis, Rita Hsiao, Robina Lord-Stafford, Mary Jane Skalski, Pat Verducci, Jamie Zelermyer, Lisa Callamaro, Susan-Sojourna Collier, Suzanne Farwell, Melissa James Gibson, Daniela Gonzalez, Pamela Gray, Dipika Guha, Amenya Makuku, Leah Meyerhoff, Erica Saleh, Susan Seidelman, Sofia Sondervan, and Leena Yadav.

Cynthia (left) at The Writers Lab with mentor Rita Hsiao and participants Francine Daniels and Stephanie Bast


Elizabeth and Nitza, thank you for your leadership, vision, and exponentially inspiring work to make this Writers Lab an uplifting and career-changing experience for all.  

Whether it is from midtown Manhattan at a movie house, to Soho Film Festival, to East Hamptons Brunch at Mulford Farm, to The Writers Lab in the Catskills, or (virtually) to Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, NYWIFT continues to thrive in spite of the current circumstances. We are learning to adapt and change and develop new ways of doing things.

While it is challenging it is also exciting and we hope you will join us… become a member or buy a membership for the holiday for a friend that needs inspiration, information, or networking opportunities to help her career. We are offering discounts on membership now at http://www.nywift.org/join.   

Last thing — and very important —  we are moving the Muse Awards to March 2023 to celebrate Women’s History Month. Stay tuned for an announcement of date and place. Psst I promise you that given we will return in-person… you will have a rockin’ time!

Enjoy your time alone or with family and friends!



Cynthia López
CEO | Executive Director
New York Women in Film & Television