Remembering NYWIFT Co-Founder Lenore DeKoven (1928 – 2024)

Dear NYWIFT Community,

New York Women in Film & Television mourns the loss of our beloved co-founder Lenore DeKoven, who passed away peacefully at home this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Lenore’s work as a director, producer, and tireless advocate for women in media touched so many of our lives. And her work as an educator and her nuanced insight into the world of directing left an indelible impact on her students, as did her gentle spirit and clever wit. Read this wonderful interview with Lenore in Music Bed to get a taste of character and her brilliant insight into living a creative life.

(Lenore DeKoven, Photo Credit:


We at NYWIFT are proud to be an embodiment of her legacy. On July 13, 1977, Lenore DeKoven and The Hollywood Reporter bureau chief Morna Murphy Martell called a meeting of 25 women colleagues at a Manhattan apartment, including soon-to-be NYWIFT Board President Marilyn Casselman, to discuss forming an organization for women in the film industry. And then the lights went out across New York City. While the creation of NYWIFT did not cause the 1977 New York City Blackout, those women did start a power surge that has continued for over 45 years.

Lenore DeKoven’s career as director, producer and educator spanned both east and west coasts and included theatre, film and television. She held executive positions at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, the N.Y. Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center Repertory Theater, the National Repertory Theatre and Roundabout Theatre in New York, and was former Chairperson of the Board of Theatre West, L.A. In addition to directing many plays in both cities, she has been a free-lance director on ANOTHER WORLD and TEXAS, NBC TV and produced a pilot for series written by Charles Fuller and starring Ossie Davis and Maureen Stapleton for NBC. She was a grant recipient of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, directing the film TAPS, TREMORS AND TIME STEPS starring Betty Garrett. She was most recently the Artistic Director of OUR WORKSHOP EAST, a development gym for actors, writers and directors.

A member of Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division for 20 years, she also taught on the faculties of UCLA’s Theatre Department and NYU’s Theatre and Film Divisions. She conducted master classes in New York City, at the AFI in L.A., at FAMU in Prague as well as in Montreal, Ottawa and Cologne. She wrote two short plays, both of which have been produced in short play festivals in New York. She served as Vice President and member of the Board of the League of Professional Theatre Women, was a Special Adviser for the N.Y. Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts & Media, and was co-founder and former Vice President of NYWIFT. She is listed in WHO’S WHO IN ENTERTAINMENT.

More information about Lenore, including where to purchase her books, can be found at


(Lenore DeKoven gives remarks at the 2017 NYWIFT Member Party. Photo Credit: Katie Chambers/NYWIFT)


Lenore attended a gathering of 350+ NYWIFT members at the FDNY Museum in September 2017 in celebration of our organization’s then 40th anniversary. There, she made a rousing impromptu speech on the importance of women supporting other women, singing the praises of NYWIFT. She expressed both delight that the organization she helped create was still in existence, as well as disappointment that it was still alarmingly necessary. The #MeToo movement would launch just one month after her prescient remarks.

Only two months ago, on March 28, we shared a special welcome video Lenore created for us at the 44th Annual Muse Awards. While she was too frail to travel to Muse, she wanted to show her support for the community she created and still held near and dear to her heart. It is with bittersweet gratitude that we share that video with you now:


(Watch Lenore’s remarks here.)

Thank you, Lenore, for your leadership, wisdom, and revolutionary spirit. We are forever grateful for you, and you will be missed.



Cynthia Lopez, Katie Chambers, Easmanie Michel, Rashiek Smart-Charbonnier, Maud Kersnowski-Sachs, Catherine Woo, and Al Dawkins (The NYWIFT Team), The NYWIFT Board of Directors, and Your NYWIFT Sisters Near and Far