Symposiums on Gender in Media

Global Symposium 2018 Los Angeles Bios

Our 6th Global Symposium on Gender in Media will be held at Google Venice on April 23, 2018.

Don’t miss the debut of our latest GD-IQ (Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient) research which includes an in-depth analysis of the top 100 Family Films of 2017.

Our symposiums convene leading CEOs and decision makers in the entertainment industry, corporations, advertising and NGOs interested in the elimination of unconscious gender bias in family entertainment. The purpose of our symposiums is to engage and educate the industry about our latest findings and to also share best practices in order to drive dramatic change to the content that our children are consuming.

Please note that this event is open solely to members or special guests of the Institute. Join now to attend Institute events.

Geena Davis

Founder and Chair

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.

Erika Alexander

Actor/Writer and Co-Founder of Color Farm Media

Actress/writer Erika Alexander (Living Single, Beyond, Queen Sugar), most recently seen in the Academy Award nominated film, Get Out, has launched a multi-platform content company called Color Farm Media with Ben Arnon, a former Google executive and blockchain tech entrepreneur. The new banner’s slate of film, television and digital projects features diverse creators. Color Farm has hit the ground running, setting up an untitled horror/thriller film, written by Alexander, at Lionsgate Entertainment and has recently formed a partnership with producers Jamie Patricoff (Half Nelson, The Place Beyond The Pines, The Zookeeper’s Wife) and Paul &Tammy Garnes (Selma, Queen Sugar) to develop a feature about the Boys Choir Of Harlem. Alexander is attached to both projects as a writer. She is also a co-writer of the newBuffy spin-off, Giles, a graphic novel collaboration with Joss Whedon and Dark Horse. Alexander previously collaborated on Dark Horse’s award-winning, ground-breaking sci-fi series, Concrete Park. She is on the advisory board of, a nonpartisan group that trains women to run for office and win. She was Hillary Clinton’s most traveled surrogate.

Rhea Curry

Deputy COO, 72andSunny

Rhea Curry is currently Deputy Chief Operating Officer at 72andSunny, where she is responsible for turning the ideas and values of the company into action for our people and our partners. She is particularly focused on bringing innovation to our global mission of expanding and diversifying the creative class.

Like most things she does in life, Rhea’s career path has been anything but traditional. She is a master innovator, connector, executor and an model of a modern advertising and marketing professional. As a true hybrid talent, having accumulated years of experience in almost every marketing discipline including media, strategic planning and account services, Rhea was previously a driving force behind some of 72andSunny’s most successful and award-winning work for Google, Target and Activision, to name a few.

While there will always be a place in her heart for Los Angeles, Rhea currently resides in Utah where she spends her winters and summers lost in the mountains as far from the 405 as possible.

Madeline Di Nonno

CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

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 unconscious gender bias in media and entertainment through evidence-based research, education and advocacy. Madeline leads the Institute’s strategic direction, financial and operational activities. Madeline brings over thirty years of executive leadership experience in the entertainment, non-profit, digital media and consumer packaged goods industries.

Previously, Madeline served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions, and drove 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, for home entertainment and limited theatrical releases in North America, United Kingdom and Australia. As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI, Madeline 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 nearly eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing. Madeline began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity. Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Madeline serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation; Board of Advisors for the LA Press Club; Co-Chair, Digital Hollywood’s “Hollywood for Social Change”: Board Advisor GameChanger Films and Rutgers University Institute for Women’s Leadership.

Caroline Heldman

Associate Professor, Occidental College, Los Angeles

Dr. Heldman is an Associate Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles and the research director for the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media. Her research specializes in media, the presidency, and systems of power (race, class, gender). Dr. Heldman co-edited Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House? (Lynne Rienner, 2007) and authored Protest Politics in the Marketplace: Consumer Activism in the Corporate Age (Cornell University Press, 2017), Women, Power, and Politics: The Fight for Gender Equality in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2017), The New Campus Anti-Rape Movement (Lexington, 2018), and Gender and Resistence in the 2016 Presidential Election (Praeger, 2018).

Dr. Heldman has been active in “real world” politics as a professional pollster, campaign manager, and commentator for CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, and CNBC. She has also been featured in popular documentaries, including Missrepresentation, The Mask You Live In, The Hunting Ground, Informant, Equal Means Equal, and Liberated. Dr. Heldman was one of many women who went public with allegations of gender discrimination against Bill O’Reilly that led to his firing from Fox News. She splits her time between Los Angeles and New Orleans where she co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. Dr. Heldman also co-founded End Rape on Campus (EROC), Faculty Against Rape (FAR), and End Rape Statute of Limitations (ERSOL).

Courtney McCarthy

Strategist of Computer Science Education in Media, Google

Courtney McCarthy joined Google in March 2015 and is currently the Strategist of Computer Science Education in Media. She and her team are working to diversify and change the perception of Computer Science in media, so as to inspire more girls to become creators of technology.

Previously, Courtney was at Fox Broadcasting Company, working in Marketing Strategy and Media Promotions. There she helped draft campaign plans and create online promotions for Fox’s primetime TV line-up, including 24, Brooklyn Nine-Nine The Simpsons, etc. Before that, she worked in Home Entertainment at Lionsgate and at NBCU’s Focus Features.

Courtney grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA with a Bachelors in Advertising and Public Relations. In addition to being a major film & TV buff, she loves traveling, writing, hiking and has even hang glided in the Swiss Alps!

Shrikanth (Shri) Narayanan

Andrew J. Viterbi Professor of Engineering, University of Southern California (USC)

Shrikanth (Shri) Narayanan is the Niki & C. L. Max Nikias Chair in Engineering at the University of Southern California, where he is Professor of Electrical Engineering, and jointly in Computer Science, Linguistics, Psychology, Neuroscience and Pediatrics, Director of the Ming Hsieh Institute and Research Director of the Information Sciences Institute. Prior to USC he was with AT&T Bell Labs and AT&T Research. His research focuses on human-centered information processing and communication technologies. He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, IEEE, ISCA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Academy of Inventors. Shri Narayanan is Editor in Chief for IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Signal Processing and an Editor for the Computer, Speech and Language Journal and an Associate Editor for the APISPA Transactions on Signal and Information Processing having previously served on numerous Journal editorial boards. He is a recipient of several honors including the 2015 Engineers Council’s Distinguished Educator Award, a Mellon award for mentoring excellence, the 2005 and 2009 Best Journal Paper awards from the IEEE Signal Processing Society and serving as its Distinguished Lecturer for 2010-11, as an ISCA Distinguished Lecturer for 2015-16 and the 2017 Willard R. Zemlin Memorial Lecturer for ASHA. With his students, he has received several best paper awards including a 2014 Ten-year Technical Impact Award from ACM ICMI and a six-time winner of the Interspeech Challenges. He has published over 750 papers and has been granted 17 U.S. patents. His work has been featured widely in national and international print and broadcast media.

Liba Rubenstein

SVP, Social Impact, 21st Century Fox

As Senior Vice President of Social Impact at 21st Century Fox, Liba Wenig Rubenstein leads the global media juggernaut’s philanthropic partnerships and investments, volunteer and community engagement efforts, sustainability strategy across operations and production, and campaigns that leverage and amplify 21CF’s powerful storytelling – like Hidden Figures, Battle of the Sexes, Before the Flood, He Named Me Malala, X-Files, and Empire – for real-world positive impact. Liba spent most of her career at pioneering tech companies MySpace and Tumblr, founding and spearheading the platforms’ social impact and public affairs programs, including first-of-their-kind, award-winning, and policy-changing initiatives around issues ranging from net neutrality and voter registration to mental/emotional health, college access and affordability, and climate change. She has served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Sustainable Consumption, board chair of the premier youth vote organization The Alliance for Youth Organizing (formerly the Bus Federation), mentor at startup accelerator Launchpad LA, and advisor to non-profits, Civic Nation, Why Tuesday? and Invisible Children. A born and bred Brooklynite, Liba graduated cum laude from Yale University and reluctantly found herself in Los Angeles where she now proudly resides with her writer/producer husband and their toddler.

Megan Ryskamp

Social Impact Partners, Google

Megan Ryskamp develops partnerships that enable Google’s social impact products. She works to connect nonprofit organizations, governments, and other mission-oriented organizations to Google with the goal of organizing the world’s information in important social impact areas such as civic engagement, crisis response, education, and charitable giving. These partnerships have resulted millions of users having access to information online to help them make informed decisions, get help in a crisis, engage in learning, and contribute to causes they care about.

Prior to Google, Megan worked on Adobe’s emerging markets strategy and developed partnerships with governments and schools to enable Cisco’s technology education program in more than 50 countries. Megan holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UC Berkeley. She lives in Mountain View, CA with her husband and two sons.

Krishna Somandepalli

PhD Student, University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering

Krishna Somandepalli is a PhD student at the University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering. He is a member of the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL) and advised by Prof. Shrikanth (Shri) Narayanan. At SAIL, he coordinates the efforts of the Media Informatics and Content Analysis (MICA) group in developing engineering models for a quantitative study of multimedia content. Prior to USC, Krishna received a Masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of California at Santa Barbara. His research interests are primarily multimodal representation learning for media content.

Sowmya Subramanian

Engineering Director, YouTube

Sowmya incubates and grows strategic initiatives in the consumer space at Google and is active in empowering and enabling women & girls in technology. In her 11+ years at Google, Sowmya has founded and lead YouTube Kids, YouTube Music, YouTube Live, and has been critical in expanding YouTube’s revenue stream from an ad based model to a paid subscription model (YouTube Red). Under her leadership, the products have won several awards, including Kidscreen Hot50 Award & best kids app in AppStore awards for YouTube Kids, Sports Emmy in 2012 for the monumental Felix RedBull space jump livestream, and transformed YouTube to be one of the top global platforms for music artists and fans. Prior to YouTube, Sowmya lead engineering in Google Maps where she defined and executed on their mapping data and local business efforts, and won several Google leadership awards. Sowmya co-leads Women@ for Google North America. She serves on the advisory board for PBS Kids and iTVS Women & Girls Lead Global.

Sowmya started her career at Oracle as an engineer in the core database group working on Oracle 8i. Over the course of her 8 years at Oracle Sowmya led engineering teams that spanned Redwood City, Cambridge and India.

Sowmya earned a full scholarship her Bachelors in Computer Science at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, and a fellowship her Masters in Computer Science at University of Wisconsin, Madison. Throughout college, she held internships at Microsoft and Oracle and then Fellowships after college while in grad school at University of Wisconsin, Madison.