Staff & Board

Film Festival Alliance Staff

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Barbara Twist 

Executive Director

An L.A.-based filmmaker and exhibition consultant, Barbara has been involved in the independent exhibition sector for over a decade.

She previously worked with Art House Convergence as Managing Director until 2017, and in recent years has consulted for organizations including Europa Cinemas, Europa International, and IndieCollect. From 2020 - 2023, Barbara helped to re-open Vidiots at the Eagle Theatre, a non-profit Los Angeles-based movie theater + video store. Barbara holds an MFA in Creative Producing from Columbia University and has produced several award-winning short films. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America.

Contact Barbara here.

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Gray Rodriguez

Director of Communications

Gray is a film festival organizer and enthusiast with a particular affinity for operations and marketing. She has spent three years volunteering with the Sundance Film Festival in the Artist Relations Department and has previously served as a Marketing Consultant for the Bentonville Film Festival. Gray began her career in the festival industry as a volunteer, a woman sitting on a couchevolving into the role of volunteer director for the Tallgrass Film Association before ultimately going full-time, where she was the Director of Marketing for three years. Her marketing experience includes both corporate and agency roles.

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Ceci Leon

Membership Coordinator

Born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., Ceci has always been eager to merge her love of people and the creative arts in her hometown. After graduating from college, she worked for several non-profit organizations aimed to support Atlanta’s film industry. As a producer, she is passionate about producing creative content and events that put a lens on unique narratives. Currently, Ceci also serves as the Operations Manager for the Atlanta Film Society which annually hosts the Atlanta Film Festival. She is proud to be a connector for the film/tv production + exhibition space.

Board of Directors

alyxAlyx Picard


Alyx Picard is the former Executive Director of deadCenter Film. She has worked with budding rock stars at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma, and she currently serves on UCO’s Alumni Board where she graduated with a BA in English-Creative Studies. She worked in the production office on “The Killer Inside Me,” the star-filled serial killer film made in Guthrie, Oklahoma. She co-produced Lance McDaniel’s award-winning film “Swirl,” and the 2017 OKC48 film “Previously on Alley Cats.” She continues to produce and advise on a few short films every year.

Linda Broker

Vice President
Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute

Linda Broker is the Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Women’s Film. Currently in its 34th year, the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival is the oldest women’s film festival in North America. Linda’s passion for film as a catalyst for the community began when she started volunteering for the festival in 1994. During the following seven years, she served the festival in various capacities, including Programming chair and Operations chair, before being hired as the first executive director of the organization in 2001.

Linda has led the organization through a period of tremendous growth and today RMWF has an active year-round presence. In addition to the November festival, three other events take place annually, including a Filmmakers Retreat. Screenings are also hosted regularly in the RMWF “microcinema” and the Film in the Community program offers free screenings throughout the year in diverse locations throughout Colorado Springs.

Karen Cardarelli


Since 2020, Karen has navigated the organization through the passing of its founder Milos Stehlik, and its reopening after the Covid pandemic. Prior to that she served as Interim Program Director with Illinois Arts Council. A long-time theater administrator, she co-founded Chicago’s Emerald City Theatre leading its growth from infancy to an annual audience reach of 60,000 people and $2M operating budget. Karen has served as Strategic Partnerships Co-Chair for the City of Chicago’s Year of Chicago Theatre, Steering Committee Chair of Ingenuity’s Strategic Partnerships Committee and sat on grant review Theatre Panels for DCASE and Illinois Arts Council. Currently, she sits on the League of Chicago Theatres Board of Directors and the iHeart Media Local Advisory Board.

Kathryn Spitz Cohan

Film Pittsburgh

Kathryn Spitz Cohan has been Executive Director of Film Pittsburgh since 2001 overseeing programs including Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh Shorts and Scripts, JFilm Festival, ReelAbilities Pittsburgh, Teen Screen, and the Robinson Short Film Competition. Previously, Ms. Spitz Cohan was Artistic and Education Director of Shakespeare-in-the-Schools at the University of Pittsburgh, where she also taught for the Katz School of Business, Film Studies program, and the department of Theatre Arts. Ms. Spitz Cohan was named as one of the city’s top 50 cultural forces in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and received an Opal Award from Women in Film and Media–Pittsburgh for exemplary professional achievement and contributions to the economic and cultural development of the region. Kathryn is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Cara Ogburn, Ph.D.

Past President
Milwaukee Film

Cara Ogburn is Artistic Director at Milwaukee Film, which hosts the spring Milwaukee Film Festival, a 15-day festival boasting annual attendance around 80,000 for over 300 films (broad-based programming of shorts and features) and autumn Cultures & Communities Festival (a week of screenings and events focused on culture and wellness amongst traditionally marginalized communities), and operates the historic, three-screen Oriental Theatre year-round. Cara started at Milwaukee Film seasonally in 2011, joined the year-round staff in 2013, and currently leads our youth education, artist services and film programming teams and overall artistic strategy.

Carley Callahan


Carley Callahan is the Festival Producer at SIFF. Responsible for the planning and execution of SIFF’s festival programs, you can find her running around with a radio on at SIFF’s annual DocFest, Cinema Italian Style, Noir City, and flagship event - the Seattle International Film Festival. Before joining SIFF in 2017, Carley started out as a production assistant at the Telluride Film Festival in 2014, and quickly became part of the film festival industry, working at film festivals such as Sundance, Tribeca, Mill Valley, SFFILM, and Provincetown Film Festival. She studied in the Studio for Interrelated Media program at the Massachusetts College of Arts and Design. Carley lives in Wallingford, Seattle with her partner, and when not film festival-ing, she's sewing her own handmade clothes.

Albert Chow

Tribeca Film

Albert Chow started from the ground up – as a Production PA; and has since straddled front of house, production and technical side of events. Besides his three most recent festivals (NY Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Seattle Intl Film Festival), he has also worked at Sundance, Mill Valley, SXSW, Doc NYC, NewFest, Woodstock, Rooftop Films and Hamptons International Film Festival.

Bears Rebecca Fonté

All Genders, Lifestyles and Identities Film Festival (AGLIFF)

Bears Rebecca Fonté founded Other Worlds in 2014 after two years as the Director of Programming for AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL. In 2020 Other Worlds was named one of the World’s 50 Best Genre Fest by MovieMaker Magazine. Her SciFi shorts ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE, PRENATAL, and THE SECRET KEEPER have played 150+ festivals including Fantasia, SciFi London, Boston SciFi, FilmQuest, Austin Film Festival, and Dances With Films. Her LGBTQ Horror short CONVERSION THERAPIST made its world premiere at Inside Out in Toronto and US Premiere at aGLIFF. Her feature thriller iCRIME, which she wrote and directed, was released on DVD, VOD, and streaming by Breaking Glass/Vicious Circle Films in 2011. Bears Rebecca also was one of the producers on the Sundance Jury-Award Winning short THE PROCEDURE. Prior to arriving in Austin, she self-produced two web-series that were seen by a combined ten million viewers, wrote coverage for independent producers and coverage services in LA. She has served on the aGLIFF (the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival) for four years, taught for their Queer Youth Media Project, and in 2020, helped guide the virtual pivot as Technical Director. She also represents Northwest Austin on the City of Austin Arts Commission.

Larry Laboe

NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA)

Larry Laboe is Co-Founder and Executive Director of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA), an organization committed to highlighting and connecting emerging filmmakers and storytellers worldwide. Larry is a member of the Producers Guild of America and has been a Faculty Member at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and L Art University in Shanghai and Beijing. He is a Board Member of the BRIC Foundation, a Committee Member of SAGindie and the Co-Chair of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Entertainment, Arts and Media Committee. Larry has produced scripted and unscripted streaming series and commercials, directed by talent such as Joseph Gordon Levitt, for some of the world’s leading brands, networks and studios, including Disney, NBC, CBS, VEVO, Dailymotion, MTV, DEFY Media, Comedy Central, Verizon go90, Amazon, Complex Media, IKEA, Mountain Dew, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Verizon and Smuckers.

Justice Obiaya


Justice Obiaya is the Marketing & Community Relations Director for the Atlanta Film Society (ATLFS), one of the oldest and largest art nonprofits in the region dedicated to supporting Georgia's rapidly growing film production industry. ATLFS’ signature event is the annual 11-day, Oscar-Qualifying, Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF). Each year, ATLFF selects over 150 films, from nearly 10,000 submissions, to showcase to 25,000+ attendees. In addition to working with ATLFS, he serves as the Marketing Committee Chair for Out On Film, Atlanta’s Oscar-Qualifying LGBTQ+ film festival; and on the board of directors for ASIFA-South, the US southeastern chapter of the International Animated Film Association.

Leslie Raymond


Ann Arbor Film Festival

Media artist and educator Leslie Raymond joined the Ann Arbor Film Festival as its executive director in August 2013. Before that, she founded a New Media Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio and served as assistant professor of art in digital video and new media art at Oakland University, where she was recognized with an Innovations in Teaching award. Raymond excels at organizing special projects that bring together practitioners to advance the conversation around contemporary cinema practice.

Kevin Sampson


DC Black Film Festival

After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, radio show/podcast, and hour long film review TV show. He has served as the director of the Rosebud Film Festival since 2013. He created the DC Black Film Festival in 2016 in an effort to create a space to exhibit quality productions by and about people of African descent. In 2017 Kevin launched Picture Lock PR to represent some of the many great independent films he sees on a regular basis. Kevin received the 2018 Donald H. McGannon Award for his work with women and people of color in media. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association, North Carolina Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. His weekly radio show can be heard on Fridays on WERA 96.7FM.

Shellie Schmals



Shellie Schmals has been the Film Programming Manager at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival since 2014, where she plays a lead role in selecting the nearly 800 films that are considered for each annual Festival. She has 25 years of experience in the non-profit universe, holds a MBA from Brenau University and EDM in Higher Education Administration from the University at Buffalo. As a talent wrangler and producer/emcee, Shellie is involved in many projects including Roxie Roz burlesque, Georgia Pinup Posse, DanceATL and most recently, curated a burlesque/short film collaboration with the Philadelphia Jewish Film & Media (2021). She is an active member in Georgia Production Partnership and Women in Film & Television Atlanta, where Shellie sits on the Board of Directors as Vice President of Programming, coordinates WIFTA industry panels at Dragon Con (Film Track) and for the nationally known Cinema Life Collective, is past co-chair of the WIFTA Short Film & Talent Showcase (2017-2020) and past WIFTA Secretary (2016-2020).

tt stern-enzi


Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival

Having spent 20 years as a freelance writer and film critic in the Greater Cincinnati region (covering the film industry & film festivals with the alt-weekly Cincinnati CityBeat and television affiliate Fox19, while earning distinction as an accredited critic on Rotten Tomatoes and membership in the Critics Choice Association), tt stern-enzi began curating film programs at the Mini Microcinema and other regional venues, serving on the advisory board for the University of Cincinnati Center for Film & Media Studies, and developing an educational curriculum for his WatchWriteNow initiative. These efforts have paved the way for tt to step into the role of lead programmer/curator for the rebranded Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival during its first two years before settling into the position of Artistic Director for the 2021 edition.