2023 NYWIFT Creative Workforce STEM Summit


Join us for the fourth annual NYWIFT Summit.

This three-day program consists of keynote speakers, panels, and film screenings, and will bring together some of the most unique and diverse voices of women working in the entertainment industry to establish forward-moving strategies to create change and mobilize support and leadership for the future.

The NYWIFT Summit is made possible with funds provided by The National Science Foundation

The NYWIFT Creative Workforce STEM Summit unites innovators in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with thought leaders in film, television, and media to discuss the latest technological advancements, societal challenges, and creative solutions that will allow us to work together to adapt, evolve, and thrive in our rapidly-changing world.  

Please note: If you require ASL interpretation, let us know at programs@nywift.org.

In order to make our incredible lineup of innovative leaders accessible to the wider community, we are excited to announce that attendance at the NYWIFT Creative Workforce STEM Summit at the Paley Center will be complimentary!


2023 Creative Workforce Summit Journal: Storytelling STEM 

Check out the publication summary of the Summit, Storygelling STEM!

Now available digitally. 

The publication features insights from our three day in-person and virtual conference, a list of films for further study, illuminating supporting images, and an exclusive entry from renowned astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa.





Conference Schedule

DAY 1: Wednesday, June 21, 2023 from 9AM-1 PM ET

Welcome Address:

NYWIFT Board President Leslie Fields-Cruz

Kevin Clark, National Science Foundation


NYWIFT Annual Summit in Review: NYWIFT CEO Cynthia Lopez


Opening Keynote: It’s Rocket Science: Inspiring the Next Generation of Women Aerospace Engineers

Tiera Fletcher, Award-winning Aerospace Engineer, Modernizations Program Manager and Site Project Engineer


Panel: Women’s Healthcare: Societal Challenges & Medical Innovations

With women’s healthcare at the forefront of our political climate, filmmakers and physicians come together to discuss how increased public awareness and medical innovations can move the U.S. medical system toward positive change. Filmmaker Paula Eiselt, whose films Aftershock and 93 Queen address the healthcare system’s impact on specific communities and cultures, and Voice Love Co-Founder Dr. Marc Schiffman (Weill Cornell Medicine), who specializes in minimally invasive vascular and surgery including treatment of post-partum hemorrhage, will be in conversation about women’s healthcare technologies, the U.S.’s Black maternal mortality crisis, and how we can work together to build a safer, more comfortable, and more equitable environment for all women in need of quality health care.   


          Paula Eiselt: Director/Producer, Aftershock
          Dr. Marc Schiffman: Executive Co-Director of the Weill Cornell Fibroid and Adenomyosis Center

Moderator: Maria Hinojosa: Award winning Journalist, Anchor, Executive Producer 


Presentation: Ravit Markus, 2023 Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grantee

NYWIFT Board Member Emelyn Stuart (CEO, Stuart Cinema & Café) will present the 2023 NYWIFT Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant to filmmaker Ravit Markus. Markus’s documentary Nina follows Israeli Para-badminton champion Nina Gorodetsky, who aspires to conquer greater competitive heights while reckoning with the maturation of her body as both a mother and as an athlete approaching her 40th birthday.


Panel: Medical Advancements Onscreen and on the Horizon

As we near the first quarter mark of the 21st century, what medical advancements can we look forward to in the near future? And how do we, as media makers, portray our own medical experiences with truth, heart, and unyielding attention to fairness and accuracy? What are the ethics when you yourself are the story? Director Lisa Hepner will discuss the making of her documentary The Human Trial, which follows her own journey with a radical new stem cell treatment for diabetes.


          Lisa Hepner: Director/Writer/Producer, The Human Trial

Moderator: Leslie Fields-Cruz: NYWIFT Board President


Panel: Climate Change: Using Media to Inform, Educate, and Prepare for the Imminent Crisis

Climate change is the greatest crisis facing our society, unfortunately fraught with political strife and desperately caught up in red tape as the waters literally rise around us. We sit down with creatives on the forefront of our environmental disasters for a frank discussion on the responsibilities of filmmakers when it comes to covering this harrowing topic with an unblinking eye. How do you best educate audiences and arm them with the information they need to survive? Should we aim to inspire, not alarm? How can we use our talents as media makers to save our planet?


William Kenworthey: Regional Leader of Urban Design at HOK
Caitlin Saks: NOVA Senior Producer

Moderator: Yvonne Russo: Award-winning producer, director, and writer


Register and Learn More about Day One



DAY 2: Thursday, June 22, 2023 from 4-6pm ET

Welcome Address:

NYWIFT Education & Advocacy Committee, Audrey Rosenberg and Rachel Watanabe-Batton

Case Study: Short and Long-Form STEM Programming

Join us for an intimate look at how Series Creator Ntokozo Mbuli (Vutha) created a 13-part scripted series for South African television that offers a dramatic look at medical issues faced by the South African people, set inside the political context of the healthcare industry and its cast of characters. In juxtaposition, we will hear from Guggenheim Fellow and Creative Capital recipient William Caballero, with his unique documentary-style short-form animation that plays homage to his father’s struggle with diabetes and his last acts before his kidneys fail him. These uniquely heartfelt and passionate portraits exemplify art reflecting life, and make us feel how our health is at the core of our personal identities. Both creators will discuss how they were able to secure funding for STEM programming and maintain creative direction while pushing the limits of their story to connect directly to audiences.


Ntokozo Mbuli: Series Creator (Vutha)
William Caballero: Guggenheim Fellow and Creative Capital recipient
Annetta Marion: Primetime Emmy-nominated director and showrunner

Moderator: Melissa Adeyemo: CEO/Founder, Ominira Studios


Panel: Women in the Sci-Fi Director’s Chair

Sci-fi has long been a refuge for people who don’t fit into “traditional” roles — a place where you can imagine what it would be like to be someone else, in a different world, maybe even a different universe. Often, but not always, a better one. This can be especially empowering for marginalized communities. Directors from some of the latest science fiction TV series and films join us to discuss progressive world-building, shattering stereotypes, and expanding horizons beyond our storytelling limits.


Ayoka Chenzira: Director, HERadventure, Kindred
Eunice Levis: Writer/Director, Invade, Ro & the Stardust

Moderator: Michèle Stephenson: Award winning filmmaker, artist and author

Register and Learn More about Day Two



DAY 3: Friday, June 23, 2023 from 4-6pm EST

Welcome & Summit Highlights:

NYWIFT Education & Advocacy Committee, Shruti Ganguly

Opening Keynote

Dr. Tamatha Fenster, Director of Innovations and Biotechnology of the
Fibroid Center for Weill Cornell Medicine


Panel: Children’s STEM Programming – Inspiring the Next Generation

How can children’s content inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, doctors, and astronauts? Join our panel of filmmakers, producers, executives, and educators to discuss the current children’s media landscape and how creators work with STEM experts to educate and motivate young people today. We’ll also discuss how creators hoping to break into the children’s media market can find funding and support.


Maria Agui Carter: Director and Series Producer/Advisor, Latina Sci-Girls
Christina Delfico: iDig2Learn, Founder & Independent Producer
Dorothy Bennett: Director of Creative Pedagogy, New York Hall of Science
Jane Startz: Multi-Emmy award-winning producer and president of the production company, Jane Startz Productions, Inc.

Moderator: Maribel Lopez: Senior Director and Head of PBS Digital Studios

Register and Learn More about Day Three




History of the NYWIFT Summit

Third Annual NYWIFT Creative Workforce Summit: The Creative Industry Radically Reimagined


The goal of the NYWIFT Summit: The Creative Industry Radically Reimagined is to spotlight best practices of how indies and media companies are restructuring their objectives, staffing, and community response to produce creative projects.

In addition, we have survived the pandemic – we will showcase who is thriving during the pandemic and what lessons were learned during the Black Lives Matter Movement, financial downturn, and the health crisis. 

Learn more and watch the 2021 Summit


Second Annual NYWIFT Creative Workforce Summit: Documentary Makers, Industry, and Funders In Conversation

The 2020 Summit was two-fold: first, celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. Set just a few weeks prior to the U.S. election, the event looked at how to inform, update, and galvanize women voters about the history in securing the right to vote and highlight women in politics that have pushed for the women’s rights and for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The summit also recognized the contributions made by female documentary filmmakers and their efforts to create social, cultural and economic change in history, specifically addressing the opportunities and challenges filmmakers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting financial crisis as well as the Black Lives Matter Movement.

The Summit was recorded and can be viewed for free in its entirety on our website.

Learn more and watch the 2020 Summit


First Annual NYWIFT Creative Workforce Summit

The first Summit in 2019 focused on Pay Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Workplace Safety. 

Learn about the 2019 Summit here

We are proud to release the briefing summary of the 2019 Summit. 
View the electronic copy here.



NYWIFT Creative Workforce Summit Publications

Summary publication journals from all past Summits are available to purchase. 


Learn more and purchase here