Letter from the Executive Director – November 2019

November 27, 2019

Dear NYWIFT Community: 

I woke up at 4:00 am today thinking of my auntie Emma Dominich. She lived on Long Island and as a girl I admired her for being the most impeccably dressed woman I knew. She’d often send word that she couldn’t attend a Sunday family gathering because she had a Ladies Lunch. My mother’s annoyance sent a crystal clear message: if those Ladies spent less time lunching and more time working for what they believed in, a lot of our communities would be in a better place. I used to think, ‘what is wrong with pretty little sandwiches and petite fours? NYWIFT’s holiday Muse Awards luncheon always feels like the best of both my mother’s and my aunt’s worlds. NYWIFT developed the MUSE Awards in 1980 to recognize the extraordinary talents and accomplishments of women who not only excel in the media and entertainment field, but also create opportunity for other women in our industry.

We are thrilled to recognize: Gloria Estefan, Ann Dowd, Kasi Lemmons, Anjali Sud, Shoshannah Stern, and Jane Rosenthal as the newest MUSE recipients. Please see our announcement here in The Hollywood Reporter. The event is a colossal undertaking. During the many planning meetings the NYWIFT team has organized, one thing is clear to me as a newcomer: insider women from a variety of industry positions come together to salute the best in our business. If you have ever seen a colony of bees or ants working against the odds to move something along, that is what I have witnessed for weeks on end.

Please buy your tickets today!  The MUSE tickets make a great holiday gifts for friends, teachers, preachers, or your favorite film student. If you are planning to give a ticket to someone particularly deserving within your community — please email muse@nywift.org. We have a limited number of tickets that we can offer at special price.

As you know, award ceremonies aren’t the only things we do at NYWIFT. During my first year as executive director below are a few highlights since my Spring ED letter to you:

Cynthia with board members Casper Wong, Flo Mitchell-Brown, Kathryn O’Kane and member Mellini Kantayya at the Top of The Standard

  • April 2019: Tribeca event held at the Top of the Standard with over 700 people in attendance Celebrating Women in the Media Industry during the Tribeca Film Festival. Corporate underwriters included: The Standard, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and ARRI.
  • May 2019; NYWIFT and Company 3 celebrated The Women Behind the Scenes Party at the penthouse space at Company 3 headquarters with over 200 people in attendance. We toasted Evin Lowe for her work as a gaffer. Very hip New York City rooftop gathering.
  • May 2019:  We held our 20th Anniversary Designing Women Awards for the first time ever at the Directors Guild of America Theater and hired stellar new publicity firm Frank PR to run our overall NYWIFT organizational promotional campaign and DW awards celebrity red carpet. There were approximately 400 industry people in attendance and we elevated the value of our gift bag including a vegan leather tote by Expressions NYC.

    The 2019 NYWIFT Summit

  • June 2019: We held our first ever 2019 NYWIFT Summit: Inclusion, Pay Equity and Safety at the Ford Foundation with over 180 women in the industry in attendance. We had stellar array of speakers including: Amber Tamblyn (author, actor, and activist); Christina Norman (Level Forward); Sharyn Tejani (Director of Time’s Up Legal Defense); and Beverly Neufeld (President of PowHer New York), among many others. It also included a keynote address by Roberta Reardon, Former SAG-AFTRA President and current Commissioner of Labor for NYS. Visit www.nywift.org/summit/ for more about the summit and sign up for a copy of the NYWIFT SUMMIT Briefing Summary.
  • September 2019: We held FinanceHer produced by NYWIFT, The Power Player Committee, & 100 Women in Finance hosted by The Women’s Network at The New York Times Company. Approximately 160 people were in attendance. Speakers included: Lisa Cortes, Mary Jane Skalski, Candy Straight, and Valerie Novakoff.

    President Jamie Zelermyer, Board Member Mary Miles, and Cynthia at MOMI

  • September 2019: NYWIFT held our first “On the Road to the Emmys” panel and reception at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. The Emmy nominated women featured on the panel were Brittany Clemmons, Cyndee Readdean, Maria Villasenor, and Melissa Toth. Our board president Jamie Zelermyer was our moderator of the evening and David Winn, SVP, News & Documentary Emmy Awards gave opening remarks on behalf of the National Television Academy.

And those are just the highlights…

On other fronts, I’d like to send a special thank you to DocNYC, Thom Powers, Raphaela Neihausen and Sheila Nevins for the incredible honor – I so appreciated receiving the 2019 Leading Light Award on November 7th at Gotham Hall. Thank you to the documentary community that works so diligently every day to educate, demonstrate and activate people with their work. I consider myself privileged to have worked with so many of you!

DOC NYC award recipients Michael Apted, Cynthia Lopez, Julia Reichert, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Bognar pose with DOC NYC Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen and Artistic Director Thom Powers at the 2019 Visionaries Tribute.


I’m getting tired now, I always try to write in the wee hours when I am sleepless. MUSE planning … we are still working on closing our corporate partnerships and the program guide and I need to organize my holiday recipes and there is just so much to do — days seem to turn into minutes. This year we are driving to the woods for Thanksgiving and I will be working on MUSE table seating, so please buy those tickets now! 

Happy Holidays, 



Cynthia Lopez

Executive Director

New York Women in Film and Television