Lela Meadow-Conner, Executive Director
Lela was named Executive Director of the Film Festival Alliance in June, 2018 after serving as Acting Executive Director since April 2017. She comes to FFA with over 15 years of experience in the film festival industry. A founder of the Tallgrass Film Festival, she filled several roles within that organization between 2003-2017, including six years as the popular festival’s Executive Director. She’s also served in consulting roles for the Woods Hole Film Festival, and most recently for Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival, and has attended dozens of film festivals, nationally and internationally in various roles and capacities, as well. As a woman of color, living in a red state, Lela brings much experience for arts advocacy and collaboration in the face of adversity, and a deep understanding of the cultural significance that cinematic arts organization can mean to a community.
Dan Brawley, President, Cucalorus Festival
Dan Brawley is the Executive Director of Cucalorus, an international celebration of filmmaking in Wilmington, North Carolina founded in 1994 by Twinkle Doon. Cucalorus screens more than 250 films with a range of multi-disciplinary programs focusing on dance, social justice, cocktails, and performance that blend together political integrity and goofy sincerity. MovieMaker Magazine has recognized Cucalorus for three years in a row as one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.” From their headquarters at Jengo’s Playhouse, Cucalorus operates a growing residency program supporting emerging artists. The festival’s campus hosted more than 272 humans last year ranging from filmmakers and dancers to a roller derby team and 15 comedians.
Andrew Rodgers, Vice President, Denver Film Society
Andrew Rodgers became the Executive Director of the Denver Film Society in 2016. The organization owns and operates the Sie FilmCenter, which shows art house films year-round, and runs the Denver Film Festival, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2017. Previously, Andrew served for 11 years as the Executive and Artistic Director of the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. Prior to that, he worked as a publicist for the Sundance Film Festival and as the Publicity Director of the Chicago International Film Festival. He started he career as a journalist with the Chicago Tribune. He received his undergraduate degree in Journalism from Eastern Illinois University and an MBA from Wake Forest University. In his spare time, Andrew directs documentary films and chases after his two young daughters.
Anne Chaisson, Treasurer, Hamptons International Film Festival
Anne Chaisson has served as Executive Director of The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) since December 2012. Anne has specialized in fundraising and development for entertainment non-profits as well as garnered awards as an independent film producer with her company Dirty Rice for films including ROGER DODGER that earned a Best First Feature award at the Venice and Tribeca Film Festivals and honors from NYFCC, National Board of Review, The Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards. She has raised corporate funds for The Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York Women in Film and Television and the Hamptons and Nantucket Film Festivals. She also produced the annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards in 2010 and 2011. Anne is a member of the IFP Producers Group, a founding member and Treasurer of Film Festival Alliance (a national alliance of film festivals), New York Women in Film and Television and has served on film festival juries and panels all over the world.
Judy Laster, Secretary, Woods Hole Film Festival
Judith Laster is the Founder and Director of the 26 year-old Woods Hole Film Festival, the oldest film festival on Cape Cod and the Islands and one of the oldest in Massachusetts. The Festival is an eight day festival of independent film that takes place each summer. Over the eight days, the festival screens approximately 130 films selected from submissions from around the world. The festival is dedicated to presenting the work of emerging independent filmmakers. In addition, the Festival presents 2 year round films series and collaborates with other arts organizations both on and off Cape Cod to program films for their venues. She participated in the founding of the Film Festival Alliance and is an attorney with more than two decades of experience working in the Massachusetts legislature.
Jon Gann, Past Program Director, Reel Plan
Jon is the Founder of DC Shorts, a non-profit organization championing short filmmaking, and the creator of the DC Shorts Film Festival, one of the country’s premier short film showcases. He has also served as the Executive Director of CINE, a 59-year old organization that honors the best in film, TV and digital media with the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. Through his Reel Plan consulting firm, Jon has bridged the communication gap between competing film festivals, so all can share film information, sponsor strategies and filmmaker data. He also works with dozens of filmmakers and festivals, including the Key West Film Festival, AFI Docs and the Bermuda Film Festival, on strategies and niche marketing, as the former Director of Programming for Film Festival Alliance. He is also the shorts programmer for the SF Indie Fest and the Port Townsend Film Festivals.
Beth Barrett, SIFF
Beth Barrett is the Interim Artistic Director of SIFF (organizers of the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Cinema, and SIFF Education) and has been working with SIFF programming since 2003. An aficionado of short films, she secured SIFF’s status as an Academy Award® qualifying festival in 2008. Responsible for all aspects of SIFF programming, Beth has been in Seattle for 23 years and holds an MA in Northern Renaissance Art History.
Clint Bowie, New Orleans Film Society
Clint Bowie is the Director of Programming for the New Orleans Film Society, where he has worked since 2010. In this role, he oversees the curation of content for all of the organization’s year-round programming, including the Oscar-qualifying New Orleans Film Festival (now in its 28th year) and the New Orleans French Film Festival. He has served on juries and panels at film festivals around the country–including Cleveland, Florida, Dallas, Denver, Palm Springs, and others–and has attended dozens of other festivals both large and small.
Mark Fishkin, Mill Valley Film Festival
Mark Fishkin is the Executive Director and Founder of the California Film Institute and the Founder and Director of the Mill Valley Film Festival. Since founding the Mill Valley Film Festival in 1977, Mr. Fishkin has shepherded the once small, three-day showcase into an 11-day, internationally acclaimed event featuring a wide variety of US and international independent films, Children’s FilmFest, shorts, seminars and tributes to exceptional filmmakers. Under his direction, the Mill Valley Film Festival has garnered a reputation as a favorite among filmmakers and one of the most influential non-competitive festivals in North America. Mr. Fishkin spearheaded the $8.5 million capital campaign to restore the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, which opened in 1999, creating new models for filmmakers for exhibition. Under Mark’s leadership over the last fifteen years the Smith Rafael Film Center has become one of the most highly regarded and successful not for profit art house theaters in the country.
Rachel Morgan, Sidewalk Film Festival
Rachel Morgan is the creative director and lead programmer for the Sidewalk Film Festival as well as an instructor of Media Production and Telecommunication and Film at Lawson State Community College. She is also a co-instructor in the Documenting Justice documentary film program at the University of Alabama and is a former contributor to Film Threat. She received a BFA from The Savannah College of Art and Design in Film/Video Production and a MA in Film Critical Studies from the University of Alabama where her focus of study was on Children and Adolescence in Cinematic Horror.
Cara Ogburn, Ph.D., Programming & Education Director, Milwaukee Film
Cara Ogburn is the Programming & Education Director for Milwaukee Film, which hosts the annual Milwaukee Film Festival, a 15-day film festival that, in 2017, boasted attendance over 84,000 for 297 films (shorts, features and VR shorts) and which will in summer 2018 be assuming operation of the historic Oriental Theatre year-round. Cara began working for the Milwaukee Film Festival seasonally in 2011, curating and planning panels, workshops, and other programming for filmmakers and general audiences to extend the films onscreen. With twelve years of experience teaching at the college level, in 2013, Cara joined Milwaukee Film’s year-round staff, overseeing strategic planning and a resulting expanded slate of programs for youth, filmmakers, and general audiences. In late 2015, Cara was promoted to direct the Programming Department in addition to Education, guiding the process and team that curate all content presented on and off-screen during the festival and year-round.
Patrick Shepherd, Cleveland International Film Festival
Patrick Shepherd serves as the Associate Director of the Cleveland International Film Festival and marks his twentieth year with the organization in 2018. Joining the organization as a seasonal staff member in 1999, Patrick was hired as Development Director in 2001 and promoted to Associate Director in 2006. He has managed the CIFF’s fundraising efforts as our attendance tripled (to 106,504) and our budget increased to just over $3.2 million in the last 17 years.
Ryan Watt, IndieMemphis
Ryan Watt is the Executive Director of Indie Memphis, creating community for independent film and supporting the development of filmmakers. The arts organization is dedicated to year-round programs culminating with the annual Indie Memphis Film Festival in November. He is a film producer of features with premieres at SXSW, Locarno International, AFI, Los Angeles Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival. Most recently, Ryan is Associate Producer of FREE IN DEED, nominated for four 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Before transitioning into film production, Ryan specialized in marketing technology services at Securas Consulting Group, after they acquired his data backup firm Metro Backup.