Founded by Academy Award®-winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, the Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.
The Institute has amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our biennial symposium is the only event convening over 300 decision makers, content creators, and thought leaders to share best practices and create a blueprint towards establishing a gender-balanced media landscape. Review information on our past and upcoming symposiums
We work collaboratively with decision makers and content creators through our workshops, training sessions and research-backed content evaluation and recommendations. The Institute’s community educational outreach aims to inspire and sensitize the next generation of content creators to focus on gender equality and reducing stereotyping in children’s media.
Our three-tiered approach of research, education and advocacy has brought the Institute to leading media and entertainment companies, organizations, educational institutions and multinational companies such as the United Nations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center, the Wall Street Journal Women in the Economy Task Force and many others. The Institute’s research studies are frequently quoted in major media outlets including the The New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and MSNBC.
The Institute is the leading resource for providing evidence-based solutions to systemically change gender equality issues in children’s media for the entertainment industry, businesses, educational institutions and the public. Read about our documented impact in the community.
“They have made great strides to change the landscape of media and programming to reflect a more accurate, gender balanced, diverse portrayal of society.”
– Nina Tassler, Chairman, CBS Entertainment
“As L.A.’s only women’s university, we are thrilled to partner with Geena Davis to create research that influences opportunities for women in media."
– Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount St. Mary’s University
"No one has done more to bring strong, complex and truly inspirational female characters to both large and small screens."
– Wallis Annenberg, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation
Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks. Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show Commander in Chief.
In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the offbeat dog trainer Muriel Pritchett in Lawrence Kasdan’s The Accidental Tourist. She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise, in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of baseball phenomenon Dottie Hinson in A League of Their Own.
Davis made her feature film debut starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. She went on to star in such films as The Fly, Beetlejuice, Angie, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Stuart Little.
Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an Oscar and Golden Globe winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer), a member of the genius society Mensa, and is becoming recognized for her tireless advocacy of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters -- and reduce gender stereotyping -- in media made for children 11 and under.
Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide.Davis is the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women.
Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.
Madeline Di Nonno is the Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research based non-profit working with the entertainment and media community to improve gender diversity in children's entertainment through research based programs. Di Nonno leads the Institute's strategic direction and brings over thirty years experience in media, marketing and business development in the entertainment, non-profit, digital media and consumer packaged goods industries.
Previously, Di Nonno served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions, a leader in digital media content creation and distribution. Di Nonno lead the company’s new business development and content distribution platforms for the entertainment, healthcare, and consumer products clients such as Nike, Gatorade, Iconix, and PepsiCo.
Prior to On The Scene, Di Nonno served in executive marketing positions for Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment where she led global brand marketing, branded franchise development, acquisitions, digital media initiatives for home entertainment and limited theatrical releases in North America, United Kingdom and Australia.
As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI, a leading research provider of Theatrical distribution measurement and information, Di Nonno drove innovations in product development, new business development and client management.
Previously, Di Nonno served as Senior Vice President, Marketing Alliances and Digital media at the Hallmark Channel, and helped launch the cable channel and established marketing, digital media, e-commerce, and corporate alliance functions. Di Nonno developed revenue-generating, integrated marketing programs with brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Fuji, Mail Boxes Etc., Universal Pictures, Target, Sony Pictures, Chrysler, and Baskin Robbins. Di Nonno pioneered the Channel’s digital media initiatives.
Di Nonno served eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing where she established the company’s first Websites and digital marketing campaigns. Di Nonno supervised marketing campaigns for all theatrical, direct-to-video and library releases and spearheaded Universal’s launch into DVD.
Di Nonno began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity working on the marketing communications campaigns for mini-series, sports and daytime, including The Winds of War, The Thorn Birds and the 1984 Olympics.
Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.
Madeline serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences Foundation and as a Board Advisor for FEM Inc. and GameChanger.
Elizabeth Kilpatrick has 20 years management, fundraising, marketing and strategic planning experience with a range of organizations from major universities to strictly volunteer-driven grassroots organizations. Elizabeth has been a non-profit management consultant for 10 years. Prior to beginning a consulting business, she held the position of National Director of Development for Cure Autism Now (now Autism Speaks) and Director of Development for the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County. She held fundraising positions with Goodwill Industries of Southern California and the University of Southern California. Prior to her work in the non-profit field, Kilpatrick worked as Manager of Quality Program overseeing total quality management programs for Archive Corporation and Conner Peripherals. She is a Handley Walker certified lead assessor of management systems and a member of the founding administrative committee for the International Meeting for Autism Research. She attended Western Carolina University and the University of Southern California, earning a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature.
Jazmin Borad is the Director of Programs for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She brings over 10 years of management experience to the Institute and is responsible for the coordination of Institute programming initiatives and all special events. She previously held the position of Associate Director at Impact Philanthropy Group where she developed her skills in non-profit management, marketing and fundraising. She also held management positions with Crate & Barrel.
Mount St. Mary’s University is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. We offer a dynamic learning experience in the liberal arts and sciences, enhanced by an emphasis on building leadership skills and fostering a spirit to serve others. For more information, visit www.msmc.la.edu.
Barbi Appelquist is an attorney in Los Angeles, California whose practice focuses on non-profits and social enterprises. In June 2014, Barbi was a candidate for State Senate, District 26 in Los Angeles. Barbi has volunteered her efforts to increase the number of women running for and elected to office by being an active member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and Emerge California. Barbi was invited to the launch of The Women in Public Service Project in Washington, D.C. and is a very active alumna of Barnard College, an all-women’s college. Barbi earned her Masters in Public Policy from Pepperdine University, School of Public Policy where she served as President of Pepperdine Women in Public Policy, published articles on the California Film/Television Tax Credit, and was valedictorian.
As an attorney, she has served as a member of Public Counsel’s Community Development Project as well a transactional attorney with Glaser Weil & Shapiro. Prior to entering law, Ms. Appelquist was a Management Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers representing multinational corporations and high‐tech startups. Barbi is also two‐time cancer survivor and volunteers with and fundraises for a variety of organizations that support cancer patients, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society, Camp Kesem, LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and The Art of Elysium.
Barbi loves spending her free time with her husband and their 6‐year old daughter in Santa Monica and is actively training for the next half marathon. You can follow her on Twitter @appelgardner.
Megan Beyer is a journalist, gender equality advocate, and strategic communications expert who advocates for the economic benefits of women in business leadership. Her firm, Megan Beyer & Associates, provides services for companies and NGOs promoting women in leadership.
Ms. Beyer leads external affairs in the US for EDGE, the only global gender certification standard. The Swiss-based EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) offers third party verification that a company is committed to achieving to the global standard of gender equality. Using data analytics, EDGE makes sure that pay, hiring and promotions, leadership development, flexibility, and culture are gender equal.
In Switzerland from 2010 to 2013 Ms. Beyer founded and chaired a bilateral women leaders project with the US Department of State exploring ways to use private sector tools to leverage greater equality in the economy. The project conducted original research on gender workplace issues and promoted best practices for breaking the glass ceiling.
In 2014 Ms. Beyer presented EDGE at the White House Summit on Working Families, and at the UN conference on International Women’s Day. Her firm’s EDGE work includes an IFC/ World Bank initiative, the “She Works” Clinton Global Initiative commitment, and a project with the US Green Buildings Council. She is also engaged in a strategic partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Bentley University, challenging companies to improve gender equality with EDGE gender certification.
Ms. Beyer serves on the Women’s Leadership Board of Harvard University’s Kennedy School, and is a partner with the Great Work Cultures initiative founded by Joan Blades, author of the Motherhood Manifesto.
A regular speaker and moderator, Ms. Beyer is also a long standing panelist on the national PBS program, To the Contrary. She writes for The Huffington Post, Role Reboot, the SHRIVER Report, and Mom’s Rising. In Switzerland, she was a regular columnist for Le Matin in Geneva.
From 1995 to 2005 she anchored and reported for ESPN’s Nation’s Business Today, and the USA Network’s First Business. She began her career doing political and general assignment reporting for Media General’s News Channel 8 and the CBS affiliate WTVR Channel Six in Richmond, Virginia. In 1991 she was nominated for a Washington DC Emmy and received the Virginia Associated Press Award for Best Feature Reporting.
From 2000-2008 she served on the board of WETA, Washington’s Public Television station, and from 1990-2001 served on the board of The National Park Service’s Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts chairing the Ball in 2000. From 2004 to 2009 she was Finance Chair of the Virginia Community College Board. In 2004 Ms. Beyer served on the Virginia Board of Pro-choice NARAL, and co-chaired the national NARAL Roe vs. Wade 34th Anniversary dinner. She was a trustee on the national board of Reading is Fundamental. She is a recipient of the Northern Virginia Urban League’s Shining Star Award. In 2009 was honored by the DC chapter of Girls Inc. for helping to build an equitable society.
Vincent Bruzzese is the CEO, Worldwide Motion Picture Group of Ipsos OTX MediaCT. Over the past ten years Vincent has worked on over 1,000 films, impacting the development, execution, marketing or release of each one.
Vincent began his career as a university professor of statistics and sociology; however, he left academia to help usher in a new way of tracking the success of a marketing campaign in the movie industry at MarketCast. He went on to spearhead several new research initiatives, all of which are still used today, particularly Strategic Positioning Assessments. In late 2001, he left MarketCast to join the emerging marketing research and consulting company OTX, starting their entertainment division.
During his ten years at OTX, Vincent has developed a worldwide tracking product which covers over ten international markets, pioneered the process of assessing a project playability and marketability at the script stage, impacted countless films through the screening process, and authored new ways to craft analysis of creative material both domestically and internationally. He is also known as the foremost expert on box-office predictions in the industry today, having developed some of the first statistical predictive models off tracking over ten years ago. His work in these areas and his understanding of today's moviegoers is almost unparalleled.
As President of the Worldwide Motion Picture Group at Ipsos MediaCT, Vincent oversees theatrical research and consulting in over 65 countries. His counsel on film development, marketing and research is one of the most heavily sought after and valued in our industry today.
Amir Dossal is Founder of the Global Partnerships Forum, a new global initiative to address economic and social challenges through innovative partnerships: www.globalpf.org. Amir is also Co-Initiator of the Pearl Initiative, which promotes transparency and accountability in the Gulf Region: www.pearlinitiative.org. He is also Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union for Global Partnerships.
Until very recently, Amir was the United Nation's Chief Liaison for Partnerships. He developed strategic alliances with governments, corporations, foundations and philanthropists to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. One of Amir's many responsibilities was as the UN's Representative for the partnership with media mogul Ted Turner's $1 billion donation, through the UN Foundation, supporting over 450 programmes and projects for women and children's health; population; climate change; and biodiversity. This partnership attracted social investments of over $560 million from other donors and partners, such as American Red Cross, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Coca-Cola, Rockefeller Foundation, Rotary International etc. In addition, Amir oversaw management of the UN Democracy Fund, which he established in 2005, to strengthen institutions and enhance democratic governance in new or restored democracies.
Amir works globally across sectors, including Health, Education, Environment, Peace, Security and Human Rights. He has built strong links with governments, multilateral agencies, business group, foundations and networks, such as the Arab Foundations Forum, Business Council for International Understanding, Chambers of Commerce, China World Peace Foundation, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Commonwealth Business Council, European Foundation Centre, Foreign Policy Association, IDP Foundation, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, LTB Foundation, NEPAD Business Group, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Synergos Institute, United Nations Associations, US Council for International Business, US Department of State, etc.
Amir has spearheaded the UN's engagement with leaders in the finance, technology and pharmaceutical sectors, including 3Com, BT, Cisco, Ericsson, Google, GSK, Merck, Microsoft, Nestle, Novartis, Pfizer, Standard Chartered Bank, Telefonica, Vodafone, and Walmart. He also works with high-profile personalities to support humanitarian causes, such as the Countess Sondes, Cherie Blair, Geena Davis, the Duchess of York, Petra Nemcova, Julia Ormond, Joan Rivers, Russell Simmons, Joss Stone, Christy Turlington Burns, and others.
Since joining the United Nations in 1985, Amir has led a number of new initiatives:
1997: Set-up the Management Policy Office to oversee reform within the United Nations.
1999: Established the UN Fund for International Partnerships, as the interface for the UN Foundation.
2004: Set-up Diaspora Networks for Africa and the Caribbean, to promote innovation & investments.
2005: Established the UN Democracy Fund.
2006: Set-up the Peace-Building Support Office to spur development in post-conflict countries.
2007: Established the UN Office for Partnerships, to oversee multiple partnership functions.
2007: Created a Business Advisory Council for Greater Tumen Region, to attract investment in NE Asia.
2008: Launched Digital Health Initiative focused on m-health applications & services, and telemedicine.
2008: Spearheaded key report of public & private sector commitments for MDG Summit ($1.6 billion).
2009: Substantially increased UN engagement with private sector and civil society in the Middle East.
2009: Launched several new initiatives in Arts, Culture and Inter-Faith.
Amir is a Chartered Accountant (FCA) trained with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, London in 1975. Prior to joining the United Nations, he worked in business for over 15 years. He has lived and worked in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Middle East, and North America. Amir regularly undertakes speaking engagements, and serves on several non- profit boards. He is married to Tas, and they have one son, Zecki.
Geralyn Dreyfous has a wide background in the arts, extensive experience in consulting in the philanthropic sector, and participates on numerous boards and initiatives. She spent an early part of her career at the Philanthropic Initiative in Boston, which guides families of wealth in strategic giving opportunities, and taught Documentary and Narrative writing with Dr. Robert Coles at Harvard University. Geralyn is the Founder and Board Chair of the Utah Film Center, a non-profit that curates free screenings and outreach programs for communities throughout Utah.
In 2007, she co-founded Impact Partners Film Fund with Dan Cogan, bringing together financiers and filmmakers so that they can create great films that entertain audiences, enrich lives, and ignite social change. Since its inception, IP has been involved in the financing of over 50 films, including: The Cove (2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); The Garden (2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature nominee); Freeheld (2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film); The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, (2007 Emmy Award for Best Documentary Special); and Hell and Back Again (2012 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature) and multiple film festival award winning films such as The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, E-TEAM (2014 Sundance Film Festival Cinematography Award, US Documentary), The Overnighters (2014 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize), and Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory (2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, US Documentary). In 2013, Geralyn became a founding member of Gamechanger, the first for-profit film fund dedicated exclusively to financing narrative features directed by women. Their first film, Land Ho!, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2014.
Geralyn's independent executive producing and producing credits include the Academy Award winning Born Into Brothels; Emmy nominated The Day My God Died, Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award winning The Square, Academy Award nominated and Peabody Award winning The Invisible War, and multiple film festivals winners such as Kick Like a Girl, In A Dream, Dhamma Brothers, Project Kashmir, Miss Representation, Connected, Sugar Babies, The Crash Reel, Meet the Patels, Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank, In Football We Trust, and Anita. Her works in production include: Wait for Me, All Eyes and Ears, and Be Natural. Geralyn was honored by the International Documentary Association with the Amicus Award in 2013 for her significant contribution to documentary filmmaking. Variety recognized Geralyn in their 2014 Women’s Impact Report highlighting her work in the entertainment industry.
Brown Johnson is the Executive Vice President and Creative Director at Sesame Workshop. Johnson is responsible for the development and production of the Workshop’s domestic television content, as well as creative services.
Johnson is an award-winning producer of some of the most successful children’s programs. Before joining the Workshop, she served as President of Animation and Preschool Entertainment at Nickelodeon where she managed development and production of more than 200 episodes of programming each year. Johnson pioneered the interactive format of the groundbreaking preschool programs Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues. She also conceived and oversaw the development of the Nickelodeon preschool block featuring hit shows including Go Diego Go!, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Team UmiZoomi, The Backyardigans, and Ni Hao Kai Lan. Johnson led the creative development to extend the preschool block online and through retail. Many of the programs she created and managed showcase characters of diverse ethnicities. Her focus on the development of multi-ethnic children’s media spurred Johnson to create fellowships in writing and art to grow the next generation of diverse creators.
In Johnson’s more than 20 years with Nickelodeon, she received multiple Emmy awards, Television Critics Awards, Peabody Awards, Imagen and NAACP Image Awards. Johnson serves on the advisory board of Peter Gabriel’s WITNESS foundation, the board of governors of We Are Family Foundation, the Ambassador Council of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and is a graduate student mentor for the USC John C. Hensch Division of Animation and Digital Arts.
Johnson resides in New York and Los Angeles and has one daughter.
Surina Khan is CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California. For more than two decades, Surina has been a leader in the philanthropic and non-profit social justice sector starting with local community-based publishing in New England and then shifting to national and global work on an array of social justice issues including women’s rights, LGBT rights, human rights and more. Before being appointed CEO in 2014, Surina served as a Director in the Democracy Rights and Justice Program at the Ford Foundation where she shaped more than $30 million in annual grantmaking around the world to expand rights for women, LGBT people, people living with HIV/AIDS, and in the area of strengthening democratic participation and governance.
Before joining Ford in 2011, Surina spent six years at the Women’s Foundation of California, serving as Vice President of Programs and providing strategic direction for grant making, strengthening the organizational effectiveness of social justice organizations and overseeing the Women’s Policy Institute, a policy advocacy training program for community-based leaders.
She previously served as executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, where she worked to advance the human rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Earlier in her career, Surina was a research analyst for Political Research Associates, conducting groundbreaking research on the Right’s attacks on women and LGBT people. She currently serves on the Board of Funders for LGBT Issues and has previously served on the boards of directors with numerous organizations including Funders for Population, Reproductive Health and Rights and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Her writing and research have been published widely in print and online publications.
Geraldine Laybourne founded Oxygen Media and has served as its chairman and chief executive officer since its inception. The network was launched in 2000 to fill a void in the television landscape -- creating a network targeted to younger women.
Oxygen is rewriting the rulebook for women's television with the most unique original programming of all the women's networks including Campus Ladies, Mo'Nique's Fat Chance and Talk Sex with Sue Johanson. Oxygen is the only woman owned and operated cable network. Available in 71 million cable households, the network also owns and operates www.oxygen.com. A pioneer in creating innovative and high-quality television programming for children, Ms. Laybourne spent 16 years at Nickelodeon, taking over the management of the network in 1984.
Under her leadership, Nickelodeon became the top-rated 24-hour cable programming service and won several notable honors, including Emmy, Peabody, CableACE and Parent's Choice awards, among others. Prior to starting Oxygen, Ms. Laybourne was president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks (1996-1998) where she was responsible for overseeing current cable programming for the Walt Disney Company and its ABC subsidiary.
Ms. Laybourne earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Vassar College and a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania. A native of Martinsville, New Jersey, she and her husband Kit have two children and two grandchildren.
Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson is president of Mount St. Mary’s University, the only women’s university in Los Angeles. She has over 25 years of service to liberal arts colleges throughout the country. Dr. McElaney-Johnson is a champion of innovative teaching and learning and has a deep understanding of the changing landscape in higher education. She earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MA from Middlebury College, Vermont, and a BA from the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts. She serves on many boards and speaks nationally and internationally about the importance of women’s colleges and the advancement of women and girls.
Nina Tassler was named Chairman, CBS Entertainment, in February 2014. She reports directly to Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation.
In her position, Tassler oversees the Network's entertainment programming for primetime, late night and daytime, as well as program development for all genres, including comedy, drama, reality and specials.
Under Tassler's leadership, CBS swept the 2012-2013 season in all key ratings categories, finishing as "America's Most Watched Network" for the 10th time in the last 11 years and first in adults 18-49 for the first time in 21 years (since the 1991-1992 season).
Since taking over the entertainment division she has introduced the critically acclaimed, #1 comedy The Big Bang Theory, in addition to the Network's other hit comedies How I Met Your Mother, Mike & Molly and 2 Broke Girls.
Tassler has also helped build CBS's deep roster of successful primetime dramas. As head of Entertainment, she has developed NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest, The Good Wife, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O, and, most recently, Elementary, the #1 new series of the 2012-2013 season.
Previously, as Executive Vice President, Drama Series Development, Tassler developed the highly-rated and commercially successful CSI and NCIS franchises.
She has also transformed CBS's top-rated daytime lineup into a balanced mix of dramas, game shows and talk with growing ratings.
Tassler joined CBS in August 1997 as Vice President, Drama, CBS Productions, before serving as Senior Vice President, Drama Development, CBS Entertainment from 1998-2003.
Prior to CBS, Tassler headed drama development for Warner Bros. Television, playing a major role in that company's dominance as the industry's leading supplier of network programming. At Warner Bros., she was instrumental in the development and subsequent success of ER, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Sisters.
Tassler joined Warner Bros. (then Lorimar Television) in 1990 as Director, Movies and Mini-Series, after serving as Director of Television and Motion Picture Administration for Triad Artists, Inc. She also worked at Triad as a talent agent and was responsible for managing the overall operations of the television talent department.
In June 2011, Tassler was honored by Women in Film with its prestigious Lucy Award, named after Lucille Ball and presented to those whose creative work follows in the footsteps of Ball's accomplishments, particularly in enhancing the perception of women through the medium of television. Later that year, she was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.
In May 2011, Tassler was honored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for her work as Chairman of the Federation's entertainment division. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Jewish Family Services and is a member of the Ambassador Council of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
In 2005, Tassler was the recipient of an Imagen Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations for their extraordinary contributions to the entertainment industry and celebrates the advancements of Latinos over the past two decades. Currently, she serves on the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation board of directors. She is also a member of the board of trustees of Boston University.
Tassler is a graduate of Boston University (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater). She began her career assisting in all aspects of running the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, Manhattan's only regional theater.
She is married to director Jerry Levine and has two children.
Jacki dedicates her resources toward the advancement of women and girls. She believes that a more gender-egalitarian world is a more just world for all and serves in a variety of roles to further that vision.
As President of The Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, Jacki funds and works with a variety of organizations and initiatives with a particular focus on women's rights, women's foundations, movement building and media. In 2012, Jacki became CEO of Women Moving Millions, a non-profit organization with a big and bold mission to mobilize unprecedented resources for the advancement of women and girls, where she has been a community member since 2009. At its core, WMM is a growing community of over 180 people who have given gifts of a million or more directly to organizations of their choosing. Jacki also speaks, writes and consults on issues relating to women, success in the workplace, wealth and investing, financial current events and high-impact philanthropy.
In 1996, Jacki became the youngest woman and first female trader to be invited into the partnership of Goldman Sachs. Most of her career at Goldman was in mortgage-backed trading, followed by two years in the Executive Office working in human capital management. After leaving the Goldman Sachs in 2002, Jacki became a founding partner of Circle Financial Group, a private wealth management group consisting of a small number of women committed to managing their families’ assets and philanthropic undertakings.
Jacki serves on the boards of The Sundance Institute, the Thirty Percent Coalition, and the Christian Center of Park City, and is a former board member of the Women’s Funding Network, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The National Council for Research on Women, The University of British Columbia, and The Center for Talent Innovation. She is also an advisory board member to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Pax World’s Global Women’s Equality Fund, the Women Effect Investments initiative of Criterion Ventures, The Shriver Report, The Women at Paley Initiative, Sundance Institute's Women's Initiative, and Gamechanger, a feature film fund providing investment capital to women directors. She is an active investor in documentary films and, in 2012, Executive Produced her first film, Ready to Fly.
Jacki is a member of many women’s networks: The International Women’s Forum, The Women Donors Network, The United Way of Salt Lake Women’s Philanthropic Network, The American Red Cross’s Tiffany Circle, The Utah Community Foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle; and, the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board.
In recognition of her leadership and philanthropic involvement, Jacki received the Outstanding Young Alumnus by the University of British Columbia (1997), the Women Who Make a Difference Award from The National Council for Research on Women (1999), the Annual Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Seminary (2010). In 2009, she was named one of Women’s eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century, and in 2013, she received The Global Fund for Women's Philanthropy Award.
Jacki was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. After 25 years living in New York City and Connecticut, Jacki now lives with her family in Park City, Utah. Visit her site: jackizehner.com
Deborah Calla is a writer/producer and founder of Calla Productions an International production company working in the US and abroad in the production and development of feature films, television programming, commercials and web content.
Calla Productions has produced the drama A Beautiful Life starring Dana Delany, Jesse Garcia and Bai Ling, the comedy-feature Dream House starring Justin Theroux, the drama Lehi’s Wife with James Green and Kathryn Joosten and the Co-Producer of Lost Zweig a feature film starring German actor Rudiger Vogler and Austrian actress Ruth Reiser. Deborah is also the Brazil producer of You Got Served: Beat The World, a Sony International feature film release.
For television Calla Productions has produced a half-hour program for TNT on the 500th Anniversary of Brazil, a biography series on Latino artists for HBO Latino, a series on human-interest and Hollywood stories for SAT 1 (Germany), a one hour show for Endemol “Ushi” (Netherlands) and a one hour pilot concept for Prisa Entertainment, the largest media conglomerate in Spain.
Deborah is the producer of the first ever-English speaking telecast of Brazil’s carnival for the Travel Channel together with Terry Jastrow, a seven-time Emmy winner and Globo International Television. The two-hour special was narrated by Oscar nominated actor, Anne Archer. The special was so successful that it had a second production the following year. Deborah was also the producer on a children's television show for Fox Latin America and worked with Sony International Television on the launching of Teleuno, a Latin American Network.
As an independent writer Deborah Calla is in development on a MOW (movie of the week) for ABC Family, and a TV series The Last Keeper.
Deborah is the chair and producer of the Media Access Award, an awards event honoring people in the entertainment industry who advance the portrayal and employment of people with disabilities. The prestigious awards have been hosted by Fred Willard, Jimmy Kimmel, Marlee Matlin, and Pat Harvey and have had the participation of Bruce Cohen, Norman Lear, Frank Marshall, Anna Gunn, Shonda Rhimes, William H. Macy, John Hawkes, Jane Lynch among others.
Calla was one of the producers of IBM Smarter Cities, Rio 2011 - Hosted by Fareed Zakaria. The event brought together over 700 politicians (governors and mayors) from many cities and states in Latin America. Deborah also produced Out Of Silence: Readings From The Afghan Women’s Writing Project at the Museum Of Tolerance featuring Conchata Ferrell and Nancy Travis in 2010. The live event was done in celebration of women’s day and brought focus to the plight of women in Afghanistan. Calla also produced a series of ground-breaking spots for Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners and Euro RSCG. Deborah Calla is the chair of the Producers Guild of America Diversity Committee, and the PGA’s Women’s Impact Network and a member of the Writers Guild of America.
She has had three books published by Putnam and Scholastic and writes for the prestigious online newspaper The Huffington Post. She has been a guest lecturer at AFI (American Film Institute), USC Film, Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Latino Film Festival and Produced By Conference (the largest producers conference in the US). Deborah is a frequent guest lecturer in Jordan, Taiwan and in Brazil where she teaches writing and producing to filmmakers.
Mimi Polk Gitlin has over 20 years of experience as a Producer and Film Finance Executive. She has worked on over 30 films, including producing one of the most talked about films of its decade, Thelma and Louise. Under her Gitlin Productions banner, as Producer/Executive Ms. Gitlin collaborates with filmmakers/investors, advising throughout the development, packaging, financing, production and distribution of feature films/television. She has recently raised a fund for late stage development of scripts that represent women in a credible and authentic way whether in an action movie or a romantic comedy. In conjunction with Gitlin Productions, Ms. Gitlin served as an Executive at Grosvenor Park Media funded by NYC based Fortress Investment Group.
Utilizing her strong relationships and extensive experience in film production, financing, marketing and distribution she was instrumental in bringing in projects, attaching talent, and overseeing them for Grosvenor’s gap, tax, debt and fully financing facilities. The films include PS I love You, Hurtlocker, Penelope, Miss Potter, Defiance, Love in the Time of Cholera, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Some of the actors starring in Grosvenor projects include Gerard Butler, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Ricci, Renee Zellweger, Hilary Swank, Javier Bardem, Daniel Craig, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Forrest Whitaker, Jessica Biel, and Charlize Theron.
Prior to Gitlin Productions, Ms. Gitlin was partnered with acclaimed film directors Ridley and Tony Scott for 13 years where she produced one of his most lauded films, Thelma and Louise, starring Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and Brad Pitt. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards with the writer, Callie Khouri, winning the Oscar for Best Screenplay. As President of Scott Free, Ridley and Tony Scott’s production company, Ms. Gitlin was instrumental in securing distribution deals with Sony, Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Disney, as well as foreign financing/distribution deals with RCS and Largo. During her tenure she produced the films White Squall, starring Jeff Bridges, directed by Ridley Scott, Monkey Trouble, starring Thora Birch and Harvey Kietel, directed by Franco Amurri, The Browning Version, starring Albert Finney and Matthew Modine, directed by Mike Figgis, 1492: Conquest Of Paradise, starring Gerard Depardieu and Sigourney Weaver directed by Ridley Scott and associate produced Ridley Scott’s Black Rain, starring Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, as well as Someone to Watch Over Me and was an Executive on Legend starring Tom Cruise, all directed by Ridley Scott.
Prior to Scott Free, Ms. Gitlin attended NYU Film School, while working as an Associate Producer for an independent production/finance company, which developed and produced documentaries for HBO. She also raised funds for independent theater, including the critically acclaimed, Poppy Nongena, which she went on to produce with record Producer Joe Boyd at the Edinburgh Festival and then at the Donmar Warehouse in London.Ms. Gitlin graduated from Andover Academy, received her B.A. in Business/Economics from Middlebury College. She is an active member of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and a committed supporter of LACMA, the Liberty Hill Foundation, Violence Policy Center (VPC), Violence Intervention Program (VIP), and The Go Campaign-empowering vulnerable children throughout the world. Ms. Gitlin lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 3 children.
Dr. Heldman is a Politics professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She specializes in the presidency, systems of power, and sexual violence. Her research appears in the top journals, and she co-edited Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House? (2007) and authored The Sexy Lie (2015). Dr. Heldman is a media commentator and a co-founder of Faculty Against Rape (FAR).
Strategist, analyst, author and speaker — for more than a quarter-century, David Kleeman has led the children’s media industry in developing sustainable, kid-friendly practices. Kleeman is Senior Vice President of Global Trends for Dubit, a strategy and research consultancy based in Leeds, England, that also creates digital games, apps and virtual worlds. For 25 years, he was President of the American Center for Children and Media, a creative professional development center.
Kleeman is advisory board chair to the international children's TV festival (Prix Jeunesse), a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, and a Governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He was a 2013 Senior Fellow of the Fred Rogers Center. In 2014, he received the “Pioneer” Award from Kids @ Play Interactive.
Kleeman travels worldwide seeking best practices in children’s and family media, technology and products; he has given presentations on six continents. He writes extensively for trade and general press, including three book chapters and frequent commentaries for the Huffington Post and Kidscreen.
Sharon is an accomplished PR executive with extensive experience navigating the communications landscape at some of the foremost global media companies in the entertainment industry. Currently an independent consultant, she was most recently director, publicity, for NBCUniversal’s Universal Cable Productions, where she oversaw all public relations activities for the studio and its hit series including Suits, Covert Affairs, Psych, Defiance, Warehouse 13 and Eureka. A proud California State University, Fullerton, Titan, Ms. Liggins has also held positions at PBS, Creative Artists Agency, Hallmark Channel and the Walt Disney Company/ABC. For the Television Academy, Ms. Liggins has served two terms on the board of governors, representing the Public Relations peer group and co-chaired the Diversity Committee, developing and coordinating events with the mandate of bringing awareness of diverse voices and experiences to Academy members and the industry. She also conceived of the idea for the Academy’s first-ever celebration of diverse Emmy nominees, “Dynamic & Diverse,” which is now an annual event. Ms. Liggins is a passionate viewer of a wide variety of television series and feature films. Mentoring aspiring entertainment industry executives and advocating for diversity within the industry are her major priorities.
Loris has been working as an independent producer since 2000, developing and producing projects for film, television and direct-to-DVD. She joined forces with Kickstart Productions in 2004 and has been focused on building and diversifying the company’s development slate. Recent projects include animated series Voltron Force and Speed Racer for Nicktoons, two seasons of Happy Monster Band and Dance-a-Lot Robotfor Disney Junior,Happily N’ever After 2 for Lionsgate, the critically-acclaimed miniseries, Miracle’s Boys, for The N, live action, music based shorts, The Jumpitz and a direct-to-DVD series based on several best selling books by Trevor Romain. Loris is currently executive producing the sixth season of the hit animated series Johnny Test for Cartoon Network and Teletoon and animated series Shezow for Channel 10 and the ABC in Australia, as well as Swindle, a TV movie with Nickelodeon. In addition, Loris spent several years consulting for a variety of entertainment clients, including RCN Entertainment, Dentsu, LEGO, Infogrames and others.
Previously, Loris was Senior Vice President, Creative Affairs at Sony Wonder, where she was responsible for the day-to-day management of the Creative department, including acquisitions, development, production and international co-production of children’s television and video programming for the global marketplace and oversight of the studio. She served as Executive Producer on numerous projects including animated series Rainbow Fish for HBO Family, as well as animated feature Lion of Oz for Disney Channel and specials Santa Mouse & the Ratdeer and Little Witch for Fox Family. Other projects included Streetfighter 2: The Animated Movie and the Kathy Smith video line.
Prior to Sony Wonder, Loris was Director of Marketing & Acquisitions, Special Interest Programming for Columbia TriStar Home Video, where she was responsible for the acquisition and marketing supervision of children's and special interest programming on a worldwide basis. Projects included National Geographic, Oscar's Greatest Moments, The Snowman and the American Justice documentary series. Loris started her career at SVS Inc., the former home video company owned by Sony Corporation.
Loris is a graduate of Syracuse University. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband, Kory, daughter Shayna and their dogs.
Christina Martin is Partner of Bannockburn Global ForEx, LLC, a boutique capital markets firm specializing in foreign exchange that has completed USD $5 billion in currency transactions to date. Christina owns the trademarked global marketing platform, Backstage Artist Lounge, which has toured for 7 years with 500 famous artists from Motley Crue to Ellie Goulding. Prior to these roles, Christina served 2 years as Vice President of STW Fixed Income Management with over $12 billion in assets under management where she was responsible for all of North America and Europe. Prior to STW, Christina traded derivatives in the OTC market at Charles Schwab’s headquarters, earning her Series 7 & 63, before becoming Vice President of a statistical arbitrage hedge fund and Trustee of the University of Colorado’s $1 billion Foundation.
Christina received her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. During that time, Christina worked at the Federal Reserve System Bank 10th District and completed a research assignment at the Board of Governors in International Finance. Christina earned her VFR Private Pilot’s license and is currently completing her MBA at the UCLA Anderson School of Business.
Mia Adler Ozair is a clinically licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles, California. In addition to her ten-plus years of experience as a therapist, she has over 20 years of expertise in the worlds of education, non-profit organizations, and public speaking. She is also a professional writer who recently released, “Insider's Secrets: How to Choose an Exceptional Therapist (and How to Avoid the Bad Ones).” Mia is the mom to nine kids--yes nine! Three of hers, four of his, and two of theirs, providing Mia with a unique life perspective and ability to educate and guide others in a remarkable way. Mia has held positions ranging from Director of Curriculum for an international non-profit to working as an educator and program developer for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in both men's and women's facilities. She has conducted educator training and consulting for high profile school districts such as the Chicago Public Schools and other Chicago-area school districts as well as Beverly Hills Unified School Districts. She is a registered provider for Los Angeles Unified School District as well. Mia is the Founder and Director of Channel 4 Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the empowerment of women through all channels of media causing a positive global shift in the treatment of, and opportunities for, women of all ages. For more information please visit www.miaadlerozair.com.
Joseph "JP" Pineda is a music industry veteran and the Founder & Chief Creative Officer of the Carmelita Group. The Carmelita Group is a boutique, full-service--strategy, branding, & PR agency that specializes in consulting for socially innovative nonprofits and brands. As Founder, Joseph oversees all aspects of the organization and drives their work in producing mission-driven campaigns and partnerships for their clients. The firm's rare and unique expertise in both—executing high-profile initiatives for internationally recognized brands and working “on-the-ground” with grassroots nonprofits and community organizations--has put them in high-demand amongst nonprofits and social enterprises.
As a music professional, Joseph has been recognized as a pioneer and leader in how the industry can best leverage the power of music for social good.
Throughout his career, which has spanned music, sports, and the nonprofit sector--he has been entrusted with creating and launching company initiatives within each respective industry. JP is constantly striving to take his clients to the "next-level" in their work—though it would be easy to be content with past successes that include leading marketing campaigns for the likes of: CBS, MTV, Boys & Girls Club of America, Universal Music, Island Def Jam, Janet Jackson, The Temptations, Motown, National Bullying Prevention Center, Lovelamp Records, The School Fund, NCAA, & Major League Baseball.
JP credits his Mom, who he describes as “selfless and fearless,” for instilling in him the value of hard work and passion for helping others at a young age. He uses these characteristics to lead the Carmelita Group yet also finds daily inspiration from his clients.
“Our partners are literally trying to change the world and make it a better place. They should expect no less from us,” he says.
In his free time, you can find Joseph pretending to be Spider-man with his nephews or losing his voice watching sports.
...Oh and not to mention, Joseph serves on the Board of Directors/Advisory Board for various nonprofits, manages an independent record label, and has performed in front of millions of people in various arenas, as a sports team DJ.
Caryn Ward Ross is an accomplished stage, film, and television actress who has worked in the industry for nearly three decades. Ward Ross has co-starred and recurred on such television shows as HBO’s Entourage, Lincoln Heights, General Hospital, and The Shield. Recently, she portrayed Erica Harrison on four seasons of BET's The Game and currently, guest stars on Bounce TV’s One Love sitcom television series.
Caryn is the founder of ShesPowerfulTV.com--an organization dedicated to creating transformational television, film, workshops and books to empower women across the globe. Ward Ross is a faculty member of The University of Transformational and Leadership Studies (under the direction of Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith).
An inspirational speaker, Caryn travels the country extensively with her message of personal power and authentic living. Her programs, workshops and lectures combine over 20 years of information and experience in the fields of entertainment, performance arts, writing, producing, psychology and personal development. Caryn of is a member of the National Association of Self-Esteem, Association of Female Producers, and The Association of Women in Entertainment. Caryn received her B.S. in Psychology form Howard University. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter and two dogs. CarynWardRoss.com
As Vice President of Children's Programming for PBS, Linda Simensky collaborates with producers, co-production partners and distributors throughout development, production, post-production and broadcast for existing and new series including Curious George, Dinosaur Train, Super Why, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Martha Speaks and Sid the Science Kid for PBS KIDS, and WordGirl, Wild Kratts and The Electric Company for PBS KIDS GO!
Prior to joining PBS, Simensky was Senior Vice President of Original Animation for Cartoon Network, where she oversaw the development and series production of The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Courage the Cowardly Dog and other major projects. Simensky began her career with a nine-year tenure at Nickelodeon, where she helped build the animation department and launch such popular series as Rugrats, Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show.
Simensky is a past-president of ASIFA-East, and the founder of New York chapter of Women in Animation. She has lectured at numerous colleges and animation festivals, and has taught courses in animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has written for numerous animation publications and has had several essays published in books including "Nickelodeon Nation" and "The Children's Television Community."
Simensky holds a BA in Communications & History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Media Ecology from New York University.
Jarrod Walczer is a budding media executive and media researcher experienced in conceptually designing global cross-platform projects and putting them into successful practice. He is focused on the creation of and issues surrounding children’s trans-media productions. He is actively engaged in becoming a creative pioneer and vanguard for cross-cultural and cosmopolitan media content and communication technologies. In his free time, Walczer serves as amateur actor, puppeteer, vocalist, guitarist, and voice actor to facilitate the creative production of children’s programming. He was recently named the Director of the 2015 Media Research Initiative for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. In addition, he serves as the Manager of Global Productions and Associate Producer for QOL Media Inc., based in Los Angeles California. Academically, he is pursuing his graduate candidacy in a double masters degree program in Global Media and Communications through both the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Southern California. There he serves as a Research Assistant and Intern to Dr. Shakuntala Banaji on her portion of Dr. Martin Barker’s unreleased cross-cultural audience research study on The Hobbit film franchise. Outside of his graduate program, Walczer is a published author having examined Sesame Workshop’s international co-productions through the University of North Carolina Press in conjunction with the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR). He is an alumna of the Ithaca College Class of 2013 having a received the honor of Magna Cum Laude in his B.S. in Television-Radio.
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