Symposiums on Gender in Media

Global Symposiums 2016 Los Angeles Bios

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.

Hartwig Adam, Ph.D.

Senior Staff Engineer Google

Hartwig Adam is a Senior Staff Engineer at Google, where he leads the Mobile Vision team in the Machine Intelligence group. His group focuses on developing computer vision and machine perception systems for mobile devices and Google’s internal and external developer platforms. Previous projects include Photo Search, Google Goggles and Glass. Prior to Google, Hartwig was a co-founder and VP of Platform Development at Neven Vision, an early pioneer in mobile computer vision.

Jaden Baez


Jaden Báez is a 16 year old mixed Muslim activist from the South Bay. My passion for politics and social justice developed around the age of 12, and I haven’t shut up since. I have an undying passion for empowerment and equality and love learning more every day.

Tessa Blake

Filmmaker & Television Director

Tessa Blake is an award-winning filmmaker and television director (NCIS: New Orleans, iZombie). An AFI Directing Workshop for Women alumna, Tessa’s films have premiered at Cannes and SXSW, have won awards at Nantucket Film Festival and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, have been honored by the Academy, been released theatrically, and have played on Showtime, CBS, CW & Oxygen, PBS & DirecTV. She and her husband Ian Williams also work as a writing team for film and television and have enjoyed script deals with ABC, NBC, FOX and Warner Brothers. As Executive Director of the Directing Workshop for Women, Tessa has advanced several dynamic programs to increase the representation of women in the industry, including an ongoing partnership with GoogleE to change the face of technology in media, and the recently-announced the FOX Bridge Program, which give alumnae the opportunity to create work in the traditionally male-dominated world of franchise film.

Gabrielle Carteris

President, SAG-AFTRA

Gabrielle Carteris was elected SAG-AFTRA president on April 9, 2016, following the death of President Ken Howard. She was previously elected executive vice president in 2013, at the union’s inaugural national convention and re-elected in 2015 at the union’s second national convention.

Carteris became a household name playing Andrea Zuckerman on the Aaron Spelling program Beverly Hills, 90210. A show with a shaky beginning, 90210 ended up being one of the longest-running one-hour series in television history and has been viewed in more than 100 countries. The success of the show allowed Carteris to get involved with many great organizations, including DARE, Noxzema Extraordinary Teen program, MADD, Read to Grow, Best Buddies and the Sky’s The Limit Fund.

Carteris has also worked as a producer, creating a series of specials called Lifestories, which led to her producing and hosting her own talk show for Fox, Gabrielle. Recent credits include a recurring role on Code Black and guest-starring roles on Criminal Minds, Make It or Break It, The Event, Longmire, The Middle, a new web series called Send Me, and the holiday television movie 12 Christmas Wishes. On stage, she performed a special presentation of The Vagina Monologues to raise money to combat violence against women and child abuse.

Carteris previously served Screen Actors Guild in 2008 as fifth alternate national director, in 2009 as first alternate national director and in 2010 she began a three-year term as national board member. Her previous American Federation of Television and Radio Artists service includes two consecutive terms on the AFTRA Los Angeles Local Board and the AFTRA National Board, three terms as AFTRA convention in the delegate/actor category and, in 2011, she was elected Los Angeles Local president and national second vice president. She was a part of the G1 (Group for One Union) and helped with developing the plan to merge SAG and AFTRA. She also served SAG-AFTRA during the transition year as national vice president, Los Angeles.

Philip Chung

Playwright, Director & Producer

Philip W. Chung oversees the creative content for YOMYOMF, director Justin Lin’s (Star Trek Beyond, Fast & Furious franchise) digital company, and has worked in various capacities in film, TV, theater and digital. He was the co-founder/co-Artistic Director of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, an acclaimed Asian American theater company, for ten years.  Chung most recently wrote/produced HELP, Google’s first live-action 360 degree VR project directed by Lin, and co-wrote/produced Hollywood Adventures, a Chinese feature which opened in China at #1 in 2015. He is currently overseeing projects for Warner Brothers, Comcast/NBCUniversal, IMDb, Disney Channel, Machinima, ABC and others.

Julie Ann Crommett

Entertainment Industry Educator in Chief, Google

Julie Ann Crommett joined Google in December 2013 and is currently the Entertainment Industry Educator in Chief, working to shift perceptions of computer science in mainstream media so as to encourage more diversity in the field (a position she created).

Previously, she was at NBCUniversal where she was responsible for behind-the-camera diversity initiatives including the NBCU Directing Fellowship Program and Writers on the Verge. Throughout her time in Hollywood, Julie Ann initiated a cross-company Hispanic episode of NBC’s Grimm, was an Entertainment Associate at Universal Cable Productions, an associate producer on the Animal Planet series, I’m Alive and a production intern in DVD/Promotions at Pixar Animation Studios.

Julie Ann is originally from Atlanta, via San Juan, Puerto Rico (Cuban too!), and graduated with a B.A. degree in English and American literature from Harvard University. She currently serves on the board of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), Women in Animation (WIA), the Barbie Global Advisory Council and on several media advisory councils. In September 2015, Julie Ann was honored with ADCOLOR’s prestigious Innovator Award for her work in shifting on-screen perceptions, and Univision’s Flama named her one of the 7 Latinos to Look Out for in 2016.

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.

Alison Eastwood

Actor, Producer & Director

Alison Eastwood has established herself as an actor, producer, and film director. Her directorial debut was the Warner Independent feature film Rails and Ties, starring Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden and Golden Globe-winner Kevin Bacon. She has just finished directing her second feature film, Battlecreek, written by Anthea Anka and starring Bill Skarsgård, Paula Malcomson, Claire van der Boom, and Delroy Lindo. She is currently in pre-production for Year of the Caterpillar.

She has appeared in more than 20 feature films, including Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), Just a Little Harmless Sex (1998), Black and White (1999), Friends & Lovers (1999), If You Only Knew (2000), Power Play (2002), Poolhall Junkies (2003), I’ll Be Seeing You (2004), and Once Fallen (2010).

Alison is an actor’s director, having gone to her father’s “school” of organic, efficient filmmaking where the minimal takes are always preferred. On the small screen, she co-created and co-hosted the show Animal Intervention for National Geographic Wild TV. She founded a non-profit organization, called Eastwood Ranch Foundation, that works on behalf of animal welfare and rescue.

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).

Mercer Henderson

Founder, 4Girls Tech, LLC

Featured in Fast Company and selected as a top kid-preneur by Entrepreneur Magazine,  Mercer Henderson is the 13 year old founder of  the app company 4Girls Tech (4GT). Mercer launched Audiots emoji’s + professionally recorded sounds (or record you own). Audiots found fast success in reaching a passionate audience including teen girls who email her regularly about adding more emoji’s of “girls doing cool things.” She secured brand deals with companies from General Electric to Hint Water.  Mercer has just launched her in app ‘purchase and donate’ model called Audiots 4 Good. She launched her first “all proceeds donated” emoji pack with SF SPCA and has more announcements coming soon. What is next for this 8th grader- she is launching a new app just in time for her 14th birthday (in between high school applications and singing with her theater company, of course). Mercer is a inspiring, thoughtful, all around great kid motivated by the desire to create for change.

Shepherd Laughlin

Director, Trend Forecasting, J. Walter Thompson

Shepherd Laughlin leads content and research for the Innovation Group. In this role, he has produced long-form insight reports on topics including the future of food and drink, the future of retail, generation Z, opportunities in Cuba, and marketing to women. Previously, Shepherd worked at the London-based consultancy The Future Laboratory, where he wrote on consumer thinking and lifestyle trends. His writing has been published in Monocle, Protein Journal, Creative Review, China Economic Review, CNN and other publications. He holds an MSc in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and a BA from Brown University, and speaks Mandarin and French.

Franklin Leonard

Host, Black List Table Reads

Franklin Leonard is the host of the Black List Table Reads podcast (an iTunes Best of 2015 pick) and  founder of the Black List, the yearly publication highlighting Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays and the company birthed to continue its mission.  Over 325 Black List scripts have been produced as feature films earning 243 Academy Award nominations and 45 wins including four of the last eight Best Pictures and nine of the last eighteen screenwriting Oscars. Franklin has worked in development at Universal Pictures and the production companies of Will Smith, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, Leonardo DiCaprio, and John Goldwyn. He currently serves on the advisory boards of the Young Storytellers Foundation, Project Greenlight’s Digital Studios, American Public Media’s Marketplace, and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation. He has been a juror at the Sundance, Toronto and Guanajuato Film Festivals and for the PEN Center Literary Awards. He was also a delegate and speaker at the White House’s 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.Since 2010, he has been named one of Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Under 35, Black Enterprise magazine’s “40 Emerging Leaders for Our Future,” The Root’s 100 Most Influential African-Americans, Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” and was awarded the 2015 African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)’s Special Achievement Award for career excellence. He is a member of the Associates Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

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.

Gina Shay

Producer, Dreamworks, Trolls

Gina Shay has over 25 years of experience producing animated films, which includes a full decade of films and shorts for DreamWorks Animation. In addition to developing and producing the upcoming feature film Trolls, she produced the box-office hit Shrek Forever After, the fourth installment of the wildly successful Shrek franchise. Her list of shorts include Shrek the Halls, Shrek’s first-ever original animated holiday special, and aired to an enthusiastic response in November of 2007 on ABC.   

Before joining DreamWorks Animation, Ms. Shay spent another decade producing for Paramount Pictures serving as executive producer of The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. Shay was also the co-producer on Paramount Pictures’ and Nickelodeons Movies’ first CG Oscar®-nominated animated feature film, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.  Prior to that she was the line producer on the highly acclaimed, award-winning, CG animated feature film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, where her responsibilities included putting together a digital animation studio in just two months’ time in order to accommodate the feature’s demanding production schedule.

Ms. Shay began her professional career in filmmaking as a production manager on Ralph Bakshis’ and Paramount Pictures’ feature film Cool World. She then moved on to Disney to serve as associate producer on two films, Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin and Pocahontas: Journey to a New World.   Ms. Shay also worked on the virtual attraction The Spiderman Ride for Universal Studios Theme Park. Ms. Shay attended Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn, New York.