A Message from Lela Meadow-Conner

Dear FFA Community,

I am writing to let you know that February 28th will be my last day as Executive Director of Film Festival Alliance. Just before the winter holiday, I let our leadership and staff know of my plans to move on in early 2022 in pursuit of other projects, namely my work with mama.film, our rePRO Film initiative and other producing and creative consulting opportunities. Our wonderful Associate Director Barbara Twist will step in as Interim Executive Director, while we undergo a search and until the position is filled. I will remain in a consulting position through the end of May to assist with special projects including the FilmEx Regional at the Atlanta Film Festival (April 28-May 1.)

We are a robust community and this transition comes at a most opportune time! As FFA completes its strategic plan, embarks on an organizational rebrand, and stands in good fiscal health, it’s the ideal time for a new era of leadership to steer us into our next iteration as an industry-wide trade and advocacy organization.

It’s an understatement to say that it has been a true honor to have played a role in building our community of film festival professionals over the last five years. When I started as Acting Executive Director in spring of 2017, I was a very part-time contractor of one, with a budget of $33,000, and a membership of 100. Building on the foundation established by FFA’s founders, and my predecessor Jon Gann, we have accomplished a great deal:

  • Expanded to three part-time employees
  • Grown our budget in excess of $250,000
  • Received $120,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts since 2020
  • Built a membership that now surpasses 250.
  • Presented several regional gatherings, three FilmEx conferences, two Leadership Labs and pivoted to regular virtual programming (and back!)
  • Cemented lasting partnerships with industry organizations and stakeholders.

I am profoundly thankful to Barbara Twist and Gray Rodriguez for the excellent contributions they have made to the organization. Their professionalism and thoughtful attention to the work has elevated FFA even more, and has absolutely made me a better leader. I am also grateful to the Board for their wonderful stewardship and especially to the two Board Presidents whom I have served alongside as a true partnership – Dan Brawley and Cara Ogburn, as well as the most recent Executive Committee including Alyx Picard, Beth Barrett and Linda Broker. The championship that they have provided to the staff throughout the pandemic has been second to none.

Although what I will undoubtedly miss the most are the people I’ve been fortunate to interact with every day, I look forward to joining and becoming an active member. I leave FFA in great hands, and with an abundance of excitement at what the future holds for this organization!

Lela Meadow-Conner, Executive Director
Film Festival Alliance