About Us

What is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media?

Founded by Academy Award®-winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, the Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.

The Institute has amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our biennial symposium is the only event convening over 300 decision makers, content creators, and thought leaders to share best practices and create a blueprint towards establishing a gender-balanced media landscape. Our next symposiums will be held September 22, 2014 in New York, September 23, 2014 in Washington, D.C. and October 6, 2014 in Los Angeles.

We work collaboratively with decision makers and content creators through our workshops, training sessions and research-backed content evaluation and recommendations. The Institute’s community educational outreach aims to inspire and sensitize the next generation of content creators to focus on gender equality and reducing stereotyping in children’s media.

Why Did Geena Davis Create the Institute and See Jane?

While watching children's entertainment with her young daughter, Geena Davis was astounded by the dearth of female characters. Fueled to take action, she commissioned the largest research project on gender in film and television ever undertaken, conducted by Dr. Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The research confirmed the disparity she observed: in family films, there is only one female character for every three male characters. In group scenes, only 17% of the characters are female. The repetitive viewing patterns of children ensure that these negative stereotypes are ingrained and imprinted over and over.

What Type of Work Does the Institute Do?

The Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under. We have amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our biennial symposium is the only event convening over 300 decision makers, content creators, and thought leaders to share best practices and create a blueprint towards establishing a gender-balanced media landscape.

Our three-tiered approach of research, education and advocacy has brought the Institute to leading media and entertainment companies, organizations, educational institutions and multinational companies such as the United Nations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center, the Wall Street Journal Women in the Economy Task Force and many others. The Institute's research studies are frequently quoted in major media outlets including the The New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and MSNBC.

How the Institute is Making an Impact

  • The Institute recently conducted an impact study of industry executives familiar with our message funded by The James Irvine Foundation. 68% said they had used the Institute’s research in two or more projects, and 41% had used the findings in three or more projects. When asked what they had changed about projects, over a quarter changed the aspirations/occupations of female characters or their dialogue. Close to one-fifth changed story development and 16% increased female characters as secondary characters.
  • The Institute has amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our research findings are in high demand by companies, NGOs and organizations interested in the empowerment of women and girls, leadership and entrepreneurship.
  • The Institute is changing female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children’s entertainment and media. We work collaboratively with decision makers and content creators through our workshops, training sessions and research-backed content evaluation and recommendations. The Institute’s community educational outreach aims to inspire and sensitize the next generation of content creators to focus on gender equality and reducing stereotyping in children’s media.
  • Our three-tiered approach of research, education and advocacy has brought the Institute to leading media and entertainment companies, organizations, educational institutions and multi-national companies such as the United Nations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center, The Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Economy Task Force and many others. The Institute’s data and reports are frequently quoted in major media outlets including The New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and MSNBC, accumulating over 1 billion audience impressions with a potential media value of over $17 million (based on Nielsen NetRatings).

What People are Saying about Us

"As an actress, Geena Davis played the first female president on TV and a baseball player in a popular movie, but as a media consumer she concluded long ago that there was something wrong in the way women were portrayed. Davis, a best actress Oscar®-winner who is trying to change the portrayal of women in media, appeared at the United Nations promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in children's media." —CNN

"At the official launch of UN Women, the very famous actress Geena Davis said, 'If girls can see it, they can be it.' Our job is to give girls and young women the inspiration and the tools to be what we know they can be." —UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon

"What do actress Geena Davis, Britain's Duchess of York, UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon and the head of the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists have in common? They're all committed to empowering women." —The Huffington Post

"Thank you to Geena Davis for recognizing the gender bias in kid's movies and doing something to change it." —San Francisco Chronicle

"So now Davis is taking her data to industry meetings. And she has reason to hope that some executives are listening." —The New York Times

"Davis has personally put loads of energy into examining the damaging effects of media on young girls and advocating to put more strong female characters on screen." —Politico

"The findings of the Geena Davis Institute studies consistently encourage us to remain mindful of gender representations in our series. We appreciate Geena's dedication to bringing this issue to the forefront and reminding us that we can remedy it." —Linda Simensky, PBS

"I firmly believe that the content we create in the entertainment industry has repercussions & influence beyond anything we are yet aware of, and I think See Jane & the Geena Davis Institute are powerful ways to get that information to the content creators." —Jessica Julius, Creative Executive of Development, Walt Disney Animation

"Thank you Geena, for helping bring a voice to those who have no voice." —Paula Clapp, Co-Founder Stolen Youth (Seattle, WA)

"We feel this is incredibly important work and, as people who watch literally hundreds and hundreds of films per year for work, we know all too well how real this issue is." —Tom Hall, Artistic Director, The Sarasota Film Festival

"I think what you're doing is really important, and it's opened my eyes to our news coverage and stories as well." —Angela Hunter, SVP & Executive Producer, Channel One News

"No parent who has tried to reconcile the sweet storyline of 'The Little Mermaid' with Ariel's skimpy attire will be surprised at a new [GDIGM] study that reveals family films often portray female characters as eye candy." —Chicago Tribune

"Geena's commitment to shattering on-screen stereotypes of women goes beyond her roles." —Women's Foundation of California

"Actress Geena Davis visited the United Nations to speak on gender portrayal in the media. Well-known for her Academy Award®-winning performances and successful Hollywood career, Davis is quickly becoming more recognized for her pioneering advocacy work." —Media Global News

Friends & Partners

It takes a community to create change! Here are some wonderful groups we are proud to link to:

Founder and Chair

Geena Davis

Geena Davis

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.”

Davis made her feature film debut starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie.”  She went on to star in such films as “The Fly,” “Beetlejuice,” “Angie,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” and “Stuart Little.”

Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an Oscar and Golden Globe winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer), a member of the genius society Mensa, and is becoming recognized for her tireless advocacy of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters -- and reduce gender stereotyping -- in media made for children 11 and under.

Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide.Davis is the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women.

Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.

Chief Executive Officer

Madeline Di Nonno

Madeline Di NonnoMadeline 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 gender diversity in children's entertainment through research based programs. Di Nonno leads the Institute's strategic direction and brings over thirty years experience in media, marketing and business development in the entertainment, non-profit, digital media and consumer packaged goods industries.

Previously, Di Nonno served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions, a leader in digital media content creation and distribution. Di Nonno lead 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, branded franchise development, acquisitions, digital media initiatives for home entertainment and limited theatrical releases in North America, United Kingdom and Australia.

As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI, a leading research provider of Theatrical distribution measurement and information, Di Nonno 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 helped launch the cable channel and established marketing, digital media, e-commerce, and corporate alliance functions. Di Nonno developed revenue-generating, integrated marketing programs with brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Fuji, Mail Boxes Etc., Universal Pictures, Target, Sony Pictures, Chrysler, and Baskin Robbins.  Di Nonno pioneered the Channel’s digital media initiatives.

Di Nonno served eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing where she established the company’s first Websites and digital marketing campaigns. Di Nonno supervised marketing campaigns for all theatrical, direct-to-video and library releases and spearheaded Universal’s launch into DVD.

Di Nonno began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity working on the marketing communications campaigns for mini-series, sports and daytime, including “The Winds of War,” “The Thorn Birds” and the 1984 Olympics.

Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Board Affiliations
Madeline serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences Foundation and as a Board Advisor for FEM Inc. and GameChanger.

Fiscal Sponsor

Mount St. Mary's College

Ambassador Council

Vincent Bruzzese

Vincent BruzzeseVincent Bruzzese is the CEO, Worldwide Motion Picture Group of Ipsos OTX MediaCT. Over the past ten years Vincent has worked on over 1,000 films, impacting the development, execution, marketing or release of each one.

Vincent began his career as a university professor of statistics and sociology; however, he left academia to help usher in a new way of tracking the success of a marketing campaign in the movie industry at MarketCast. He went on to spearhead several new research initiatives, all of which are still used today, particularly Strategic Positioning Assessments. In late 2001, he left MarketCast to join the emerging marketing research and consulting company OTX, starting their entertainment division.

During his ten years at OTX, Vincent has developed a worldwide tracking product which covers over ten international markets, pioneered the process of assessing a project playability and marketability at the script stage, impacted countless films through the screening process, and authored new ways to craft analysis of creative material both domestically and internationally. He is also known as the foremost expert on box-office predictions in the industry today, having developed some of the first statistical predictive models off tracking over ten years ago. His work in these areas and his understanding of today's moviegoers is almost unparalleled.

As President of the Worldwide Motion Picture Group at Ipsos MediaCT, Vincent oversees theatrical research and consulting in over 65 countries. His counsel on film development, marketing and research is one of the most heavily sought after and valued in our industry today.

Amir Dossal

Amir DossalAmir Dossal is Founder of the Global Partnerships Forum, a new global initiative to address economic and social challenges through innovative partnerships: www.globalpf.org. Amir is also Co-Initiator of the Pearl Initiative, which promotes transparency and accountability in the Gulf Region: www.pearlinitiative.org. He is also Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union for Global Partnerships.

Until very recently, Amir was the United Nation's Chief Liaison for Partnerships. He developed strategic alliances with governments, corporations, foundations and philanthropists to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. One of Amir's many responsibilities was as the UN's Representative for the partnership with media mogul Ted Turner's $1 billion donation, through the UN Foundation, supporting over 450 programmes and projects for women and children's health; population; climate change; and biodiversity. This partnership attracted social investments of over $560 million from other donors and partners, such as American Red Cross, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Coca-Cola, Rockefeller Foundation, Rotary International etc. In addition, Amir oversaw management of the UN Democracy Fund, which he established in 2005, to strengthen institutions and enhance democratic governance in new or restored democracies.

Amir works globally across sectors, including Health, Education, Environment, Peace, Security and Human Rights. He has built strong links with governments, multilateral agencies, business group, foundations and networks, such as the Arab Foundations Forum, Business Council for International Understanding, Chambers of Commerce, China World Peace Foundation, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Commonwealth Business Council, European Foundation Centre, Foreign Policy Association, IDP Foundation, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, LTB Foundation, NEPAD Business Group, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Synergos Institute, United Nations Associations, US Council for International Business, US Department of State, etc.

Amir has spearheaded the UN's engagement with leaders in the finance, technology and pharmaceutical sectors, including 3Com, BT, Cisco, Ericsson, Google, GSK, Merck, Microsoft, Nestle, Novartis, Pfizer, Standard Chartered Bank, Telefonica, Vodafone, and Walmart. He also works with high-profile personalities to support humanitarian causes, such as the Countess Sondes, Cherie Blair, Geena Davis, the Duchess of York, Petra Nemcova, Julia Ormond, Joan Rivers, Russell Simmons, Joss Stone, Christy Turlington Burns, and others.

Since joining the United Nations in 1985, Amir has led a number of new initiatives:

1997: Set-up the Management Policy Office to oversee reform within the United Nations.
1999: Established the UN Fund for International Partnerships, as the interface for the UN Foundation.
2004: Set-up Diaspora Networks for Africa and the Caribbean, to promote innovation & investments.
2005: Established the UN Democracy Fund.
2006: Set-up the Peace-Building Support Office to spur development in post-conflict countries.
2007: Established the UN Office for Partnerships, to oversee multiple partnership functions.
2007: Created a Business Advisory Council for Greater Tumen Region, to attract investment in NE Asia.
2008: Launched Digital Health Initiative focused on m-health applications & services, and telemedicine.
2008: Spearheaded key report of public & private sector commitments for MDG Summit ($1.6 billion).
2009: Substantially increased UN engagement with private sector and civil society in the Middle East.
2009: Launched several new initiatives in Arts, Culture and Inter-Faith.

Amir is a Chartered Accountant (FCA) trained with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, London in 1975. Prior to joining the United Nations, he worked in business for over 15 years. He has lived and worked in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Middle East, and North America. Amir regularly undertakes speaking engagements, and serves on several non- profit boards. He is married to Tas, and they have one son, Zecki.

Brown Johnson

Brown JohnsonBrown Johnson is President, Animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. Johnson spearheads development and production for all animated programming across Nickelodeon, the largest provider of television animation in the US, while continuing to oversee development and production for all preschool programming.

In addition to supervising the creative direction of contemporary classics such as SpongeBob Squarepants, The Fairly OddParents and Nick's latest hit Back At The Barnyard, Johnson is the driving force in shepherding upcoming Nicktoon series The Mighty B! starring Amy Poehler and The Penguins of Madagascar in partnership with DreamWorks SKG. She supervises creative executive teams on both the East and West Coasts, managing the creative direction and coordination efforts between series production, on-air promotions, marketing and consumer products.

Johnson is a 20-year Nickelodeon veteran and has been the driving force behind Nickelodeon Preschool and the success of the number-one preschool brand Nick Jr. Her creative leadership nurtured and grew groundbreaking properties for Nick Jr., including Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer, The Backyardigans, Go, Diego, Go!, The Wonder Pets!, Yo Gabba Gabba! and most recently, Ni Hao, Kai-lan. Johnson spearheads all preschool content across Nickelodeon networks, including Nick Jr., Nickelodeon's programming block dedicated to preschoolers seen over 96 million homes, and NOGGIN, Nickelodeon's commercial-free digital educational network for preschoolers seen in 64 million homes.

Johnson's vision, leadership and brand strategy have made Nick Jr. the number-one brand for preschoolers, spawning multiple businesses for Nickelodeon including an extensive consumer products line, Nick Jr. Magazine and nickjr.com. As General Manager of NOGGIN, her leadership has driven double-digit ratings growth for the digital network which recently expanded from 12-hours into a 24-hour preschool network. NOGGIN will offer more of the network's award-winning, quality, educational children's programming, including original series Jack's Big Music Show, Obie award-winning The Upside Down Show, Pinky Dinky Doo and Oobi.

Johnson joined Nickelodeon in 1988 as Executive in Charge of Production and in 1989 was promoted to Vice President, Production for Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, where she oversaw all Nickelodeon production, production management, talent and Nickelodeon Studios' production staff in Florida. Under her auspices, series such as Clarissa Explains It All, Roundhouse, Hey Dude, and Wild & Crazy Kids were produced and contributed to Nickelodeon's standing as one of the world's leading producers of kids' programming. At this time, Johnson assembled a Nick Jr. advisory board of child development experts, with whom Nickelodeon works to develop Nick Jr. programming and ancillary businesses.

In 1993, she became Vice President/Executive Producer of Nick Jr. Production and Development. Nickelodeon invested more than 30 million dollars in original pre-school television, and Johnson was responsible for launching daily original series in the block including Gullah Gullah Island, Blue's Clues, Little Bill and Dora the Explorer. She was promoted to Executive Vice President, Nick Jr., in 2001 and has since led the development and production of The Backyardigans, Go, Diego, Go! and The Wonder Pets!

Johnson resides in New York City.

David Kleeman

David KleemanStrategist, analyst, author and speaker — for a quarter-century, David Kleeman has led the children’s media industry in developing sustainable, kid-friendly solutions. In May 2013, he broadened his focus, and is now building a unique new global kids & family "think tank” as Senior Vice President of Insights Programs and PlayVangelist for PlayCollective.

PlayCollective is a global market research, strategic business planning, brand building, and multi-platform product development company, that works with organizations of all sizes.

From 1988-2013, Kleeman was President of the American Center for Children and Media, promoting the exchange of ideas, expertise and information as a means for building quality. He remains advisory board chair to the international children's TV festival (Prix Jeunesse), a 2013 Senior Fellow of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, and a Governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. In 2014, he received the “Pioneer” Award from Kids @ Play Interactive.

Kleeman travels worldwide seeking best practices in children’s and family media, technology and products; he has given presentations on six continents. He writes extensively for trade and general press, including two book chapters and commentaries for the Huffington Post and Kidscreen.

Geraldine Laybourne

Geraldine LaybourneGeraldine Laybourne founded Oxygen Media and has served as its chairman and chief executive officer since its inception. The network was launched in 2000 to fill a void in the television landscape -- creating a network targeted to younger women.

Oxygen is rewriting the rulebook for women's television with the most unique original programming of all the women's networks including Campus Ladies, Mo'Nique's Fat Chance and Talk Sex with Sue Johanson. Oxygen is the only woman owned and operated cable network. Available in 71 million cable households, the network also owns and operates www.oxygen.com. A pioneer in creating innovative and high-quality television programming for children, Ms. Laybourne spent 16 years at Nickelodeon, taking over the management of the network in 1984.

Under her leadership, Nickelodeon became the top-rated 24-hour cable programming service and won several notable honors, including Emmy, Peabody, CableACE and Parent's Choice awards, among others. Prior to starting Oxygen, Ms. Laybourne was president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks (1996-1998) where she was responsible for overseeing current cable programming for the Walt Disney Company and its ABC subsidiary.

Ms. Laybourne earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Vassar College and a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania. A native of Martinsville, New Jersey, she and her husband Kit have two children and two grandchildren.

Ann McElaney-Johnson

Ann McElaney-JohnsonAnn McElaney-Johnson has served as the 12th president of Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles since July 2011. She is passionate about the importance of women’s colleges, and a strong advocate for women’s education and leadership issues, and has a deep appreciation for the Catholic intellectual tradition.

She has presented on issues related to women at a variety of conferences, including the Milken Institute 2013 Global Conference, the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., and the International Women’s Festival in Santa Barbara, California. She was the recipient of the YWCA Woman of Vision Award in 2010, and was honored with a “Women of Distinction” award from L.A. law firm Alston & Bird in 2013.

Dr. McElaney-Johnson has over 25 years of service to small, residential liberal arts colleges, as a faculty member, associate dean and chief academic and student affairs officer. She previously served in a variety of leadership positions at Salem College, North Carolina, both as an administrator and a faculty member. Prior to her tenure at Salem College, she served as a faculty member and coordinator of faculty development at Ripon College, Wisconsin.

She earned her PhD in French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her Master’s degree in French from Middlebury College, Vermont, and her Bachelor of Arts from the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts. Her research interests focus on Francophone women writers in Sub-Saharan Africa and she has presented her work at both domestic and international conferences. 

McElaney-Johnson is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU); a member of the Board of Trustees of the College of the Holy Cross; and a member of the Board of Directors of Marymount High School. She previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association for Colleges and Universities’ Commission on Colleges.

Dr. McElaney-Johnson is married to David Johnson, and has three grown daughters, Emma, Rachel and Caroline.

Judy Patrick

Judy PatrickJudy Patrick is President and CEO of the Women's Foundation of California. Prior to her appointment in 2008, Judy held the post of Executive Vice President of Programs for nine years. In that role, Judy led the Foundation's advocacy and policy change work, including the development of the groundbreaking Women's Policy Institute. She worked to develop programs to strengthen grant partners' organizational capacity and to evaluate the impact of their work.

Since coming to the Women's Foundation, Patrick has more than doubled the Foundation's grantmaking portfolio, moved the Foundation toward increased investment in public policy -- including investments in environmental health -- and shifted the emphasis of the Foundation's grantmaking from categorical funding to cross-issue movement building.

With a two decade history of leadership in achieving equity for women and girls, Patrick has led local, state and national nonprofits focused on improving the status of women and girls in education, employment and the arts. From 1995 to 1999, Patrick led The Women's Philharmonic, a national organization devoted to increasing the presence and public awareness of women in classical music. Prior to that, Patrick served as Director of Girls Count, a coalition of Colorado organizations partnered to promote girls' educational achievement, particularly in math, science and technology and led Mi Casa Women's Resource Center, an organization that advances self-sufficiency primarily for low-income Latinas and youth. She has served on the faculty of the University of Colorado at Denver and Regis University, where she taught program development and evaluation. She also worked as a researcher and program evaluator in the public and private sectors.

In addition, Patrick serves on the California Office of Women's Health Advisory Board, the Policy Committee of Northern California Grantmakers and remains an active member of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights, the Neighborhood Funders Group, Grantmakers in Aging and numerous other professional associations.

Burton Ritchie

Burton RitchieBurton Ritchie (born September 1970 in Fairhope, Alabama) is a lifelong entrepreneur, philanthropist, poker player, and political activist turned film producer. He has spent most of his professional career in Pensacola, Florida before moving to Park City, UT in 2013 to further his film career.

Burton is the CEO and Co-Founder of Heretic Films. Heretic Films has quickly committed to the independent film world by embarking on multiple film projects including the upcoming Welcome to Me, starring Kristen Wiig. It premiered Low Down at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, garnering the Best Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic. It premiered Copenhagen at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award for Narrative Feature. Copenhagen went on to win Best Picture and Best Actress at the Gasparillo Interantional Film Festival. Big Significant Things, which premiered at 2014 SXSW was another Heretic production. Heretic has also produced Misery Loves Comedy, directed by Kevin Pollak, a documentary that explores the notion, “Do you need to be miserable to be funny?” which is looking for a Fall 2014 premiere. Heretic has also started distributing film with Tanzania, A Journey Within.

Mr. Ritchie is a proud Democrat. His political and philanthropic contributions are largely based around human rights advocacy and energy issues. He first entered the political fray, running for Pensacola City Council in 1994 on an anti-bigotry, pro business platform. He supports the Clinton Foundation, Equality Utah, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media as well as the Eastern Congo Initiative. He is an active political activist on both the local and national levels.

Burton started playing poker in 2001, winning his first tournament at the Tom McEvoy Spectacular in Los Angeles just months later. He has cashed in the World Series of Poker every year since 2011.

Burton is married to jewelry designer Stephanie Ritchie. Together they have two children and live year round in Park City, UT. They ski, dance and play with Legos.

Nina Tassler

Nina TasslerNina Tassler was named Chairman, CBS Entertainment, in February 2014. She reports directly to Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation.

In her position, Tassler oversees the Network's entertainment programming for primetime, late night and daytime, as well as program development for all genres, including comedy, drama, reality and specials.

Under Tassler's leadership, CBS swept the 2012-2013 season in all key ratings categories, finishing as "America's Most Watched Network" for the 10th time in the last 11 years and first in adults 18-49 for the first time in 21 years (since the 1991-1992 season).  

Since taking over the entertainment division she has introduced the critically acclaimed, #1 comedy THE BIG BANG THEORY, in addition to the Network's other hit comedies HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, MIKE & MOLLY and 2 BROKE GIRLS.

Tassler has also helped build CBS's deep roster of successful primetime dramas.  As head of Entertainment, she has developed NCIS: LOS ANGELES, PERSON OF INTEREST, THE GOOD WIFE, CRIMINAL MINDS, THE MENTALIST, BLUE BLOODS, HAWAII FIVE-0, and, most recently, ELEMENTARY, the #1 new series of the 2012-2013 season.

Previously, as Executive Vice President, Drama Series Development, Tassler developed the highly-rated and commercially successful CSI and NCIS franchises.

She has also transformed CBS's top-rated daytime lineup into a balanced mix of dramas, game shows and talk with growing ratings.

Tassler joined CBS in August 1997 as Vice President, Drama, CBS Productions, before serving as Senior Vice President, Drama Development, CBS Entertainment from 1998-2003.

Prior to CBS, Tassler headed drama development for Warner Bros. Television, playing a major role in that company's dominance as the industry's leading supplier of network programming.  At Warner Bros., she was instrumental in the development and subsequent success of "ER," "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and "Sisters."

Tassler joined Warner Bros. (then Lorimar Television) in 1990 as Director, Movies and Mini-Series, after serving as Director of Television and Motion Picture Administration for Triad Artists, Inc.  She also worked at Triad as a talent agent and was responsible for managing the overall operations of the television talent department.
In June 2011, Tassler was honored by Women in Film with its prestigious Lucy Award, named after Lucille Ball and presented to those whose creative work follows in the footsteps of Ball's accomplishments, particularly in enhancing the perception of women through the medium of television.  Later that year, she was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.

In May 2011, Tassler was honored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for her work as Chairman of the Federation's entertainment division.  Additionally, she serves on the Board of Jewish Family Services and is a member of the Ambassador Council of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

In 2005, Tassler was the recipient of an Imagen Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations for their extraordinary contributions to the entertainment industry and celebrates the advancements of Latinos over the past two decades.  Currently, she serves on the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation board of directors.  She is also a member of the board of trustees of Boston University.

Tassler is a graduate of Boston University (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater).  She began her career assisting in all aspects of running the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, Manhattan's only regional theater.

She is married to director Jerry Levine and has two children.

Advisory Council

Barbi Appelquist

Alice CahnBarbi Appelquist is an attorney in Los Angeles, California whose practice focuses on non-­profits and social enterprises. In June 2014, Barbi was a candidate for State Senate, District 26 in Los Angeles. Barbi has volunteered her efforts to increase the number of women running for and elected to office by being an active member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and Emerge California. Barbi was invited to the launch of The Women in Public Service Project in Washington, D.C. and is a very active alumna of Barnard College, an all-women’s college. Barbi earned her Masters in Public Policy from Pepperdine University, School of Public Policy where she served as President of Pepperdine Women in Public Policy, published articles on the California Film/Television Tax Credit, and was valedictorian.

As an attorney, she has served as a member of Public Counsel’s Community Development Project as well a transactional attorney with Glaser Weil & Shapiro. Prior to entering law, Ms. Appelquist was a Management Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers representing multinational corporations and high‐tech startups. Barbi is also two‐time cancer survivor and volunteers with and fundraises for a variety of organizations that support cancer patients, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society, Camp Kesem, LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and The Art of Elysium.

Barbi loves spending her free time with her husband and their 6‐year old daughter in Santa Monica and is actively training for the next half marathon. You can follow her on Twitter @appelgardner.

Alice Cahn

Alice CahnAlice Cahn is currently Cartoon Network's VP of Social Responsibility, directing content and the implementation of pro-social initiatives across all Cartoon Network divisions. Before this promotion, Cahn headed up Development and Acquisitions for CN's daytime programming. Prior to joining Cartoon Network, Cahn served as Managing Director of the Markle Foundation's Interactive Media for Children Program. Cahn came to Markle from Sesame Workshop where she served as President of the Television, Film and Video group. From 1993-1998 Cahn was head of children's programming for US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Prior to joining PBS, Ms. Cahn designed national outreach programs linking media and education at Sony's Education First Foundation; was program director for children's television at KQED, SF; and taught elementary and jr high students at Village Community School, NYC.

Cahn did her Masters work in Educational Technology at San Francisco State University; and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from NYU. She and her partner live in Maplewood, NJ and have 3 children.

Geralyn Dreyfous

Geralyn DreyfousGeralyn Dreyfous has a wide background in the arts and philanthropy. She founded the Philanthropic Initiative in Boston, which guides families of wealth in strategic giving opportunities, and co-taught documentary writing at Harvard University. Geralyn's executive producing and producing credits include Academy Award winning "Born Into Brothels," Emmy nominated "The Day My God Died," and multiple film festivals winners "Kick Like a Girl," "In A Dream," "Dhamma Brothers," "Project Kashmir," "Miss Representation," "Connected," and now, "Boys of Bonneville."

Her works in production include: "Wait for Me," "Year of the Ambassador," "One In A Billion," "In Football We Trust," and "Sugar Babies."

She is the Founder/ Chair of the SLC Film Center and a charter member of the Utah Coalition for Film and Media. In 2007, she co-founded IMPACT Partners Film Fund, with Dan Cogan. IMPACT has financed over 25 films since its inception.  Impact Partners is a film fund and advisory service committed to financing independent cinema that addresses pressing social issues. It brings together financiers and filmmakers so that, together, they can create great films that entertain audiences, enrich lives, and ignite social change. Since its inception less than four years ago, IP has been involved in the financing of over 25 films, including: "The Cove," which won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; "The Garden," which was nominated for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; "Freeheld," which won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film; and "The Ghosts Of Abu Ghraib," which won the 2007 Emmy Award for Best Documentary Special.

Mimi Polk Gitlin

Mimi Polk GitlinMimi Polk Gitlin has over 20 years of experience as a Producer and Film Finance Executive. She has worked on over 30 films, including producing one of the most talked about films of its decade, “Thelma and Louise.” Under her Gitlin Productions banner, as Producer/Executive Ms. Gitlin collaborates with filmmakers/investors, advising throughout the development, packaging, financing, production and distribution of feature films/television. She has recently raised a fund for late stage development of scripts that represent women in a credible and authentic way whether in an action movie or a romantic comedy. In conjunction with Gitlin Productions, Ms. Gitlin served as an Executive at Grosvenor Park Media funded by NYC based Fortress Investment Group.

Utilizing her strong relationships and extensive experience in film production, financing, marketing and distribution she was instrumental in bringing in projects, attaching talent, and overseeing them for Grosvenor’s gap, tax, debt and fully financing facilities. The films include “PS I love You,” “Hurtlocker", “Penelope,” “Miss Potter,” “Defiance,” “Love in the Time of Cholera," and “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” Some of the actors starring in Grosvenor projects include Gerard Butler, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Ricci, Renee Zellweger, Hilary Swank, Javier Bardem, Daniel Craig, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Forrest Whitaker, Jessica Biel, and Charlize Theron.

Prior to Gitlin Productions, Ms. Gitlin was partnered with acclaimed film directors Ridley and Tony Scott for 13 years where she produced one of his most lauded films, “Thelma and Louise,” starring Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and Brad Pitt. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards with the writer, Callie Khouri, winning the Oscar for Best Screenplay. As President of Scott Free, Ridley and Tony Scott’s production company, Ms. Gitlin was instrumental in securing distribution deals with Sony, Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Disney, as well as foreign financing/distribution deals with RCS and Largo. During her tenure she produced the films “White Squall,” starring Jeff Bridges, directed by Ridley Scott, “Monkey Trouble,” starring Thora Birch and Harvey Kietel, directed by Franco Amurri, “The Browning Version,” starring Albert Finney and Matthew Modine, directed by Mike Figgis, “1492: Conquest Of Paradise,” starring Gerard Depardieu and Sigourney Weaver directed by Ridley Scott and associate produced Ridley Scott’s “Black Rain,” starring Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, as well as “Someone to Watch Over Me” and was an Executive on “Legend” starring Tom Cruise, all directed by Ridley Scott.

Prior to Scott Free, Ms. Gitlin attended NYU Film School, while working as an Associate Producer for an independent production/finance company, which developed and produced documentaries for HBO. She also raised funds for independent theater, including the critically acclaimed, “Poppy Nongena”, which she went on to produce with record Producer Joe Boyd at the Edinburgh Festival and then at the Donmar Warehouse in London.Ms. Gitlin graduated from Andover Academy, received her B.A. in Business/Economics from Middlebury College. She is an active member of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and a committed supporter of LACMA, the Liberty Hill Foundation, Violence Policy Center (VPC), Violence Intervention Program (VIP), and The Go Campaign-empowering vulnerable children throughout the world. Ms. Gitlin lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 3 children.

Loris Kramer Lunsford

Loris Kramer LunsfordLoris has been working as an independent producer since 2000, developing and producing projects for film, television and direct-to-DVD. She joined forces with Kickstart Productions in 2004 and has been focused on building and diversifying the company’s development slate. Recent projects include animated series Voltron Force and Speed Racer for Nicktoons, two seasons of Happy Monster Band and Dance-a-Lot Robotfor Disney Junior,Happily N’ever After 2 for Lionsgate, the critically-acclaimed miniseries, Miracle’s Boys, for The N, live action, music based shorts, The Jumpitz and a direct-to-DVD series based on several best selling books by Trevor Romain. Loris is currently executive producing the sixth season of the hit animated series Johnny Test for Cartoon Network and Teletoon and animated series Shezow for Channel 10 and the ABC in Australia, as well as Swindle, a TV movie with Nickelodeon. In addition, Loris spent several years consulting for a variety of entertainment clients, including RCN Entertainment, Dentsu, LEGO, Infogrames and others.

Previously, Loris was Senior Vice President, Creative Affairs at Sony Wonder, where she was responsible for the day-to-day management of the Creative department, including acquisitions, development, production and international co-production of children’s television and video programming for the global marketplace and oversight of the studio. She served as Executive Producer on numerous projects including animated series Rainbow Fish for HBO Family, as well as animated feature Lion of Oz for Disney Channel and specials Santa Mouse & the Ratdeer and Little Witch for Fox Family. Other projects included Streetfighter 2: The Animated Movie and the Kathy Smith video line.

Prior to Sony Wonder, Loris was Director of Marketing & Acquisitions, Special Interest Programming for Columbia TriStar Home Video, where she was responsible for the acquisition and marketing supervision of children's and special interest programming on a worldwide basis. Projects included National Geographic, Oscar's Greatest Moments, The Snowman and the American Justice documentary series. Loris started her career at SVS Inc., the former home video company owned by Sony Corporation.

Loris is a graduate of Syracuse University. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband, Kory, daughter Shayna and their dogs.

Caryn Ward Ross

Caryn Ward RossCaryn Ward Ross is an accomplished stage, film, and television actress who has worked in the industry for nearly three decades. Ward Ross has co-starred and recurred on such television shows as HBO’s Entourage, Lincoln Heights, General Hospital, and The Shield. Recently, she portrayed Erica Harrison on four seasons of BET's The Game and currently, guest stars on Bounce TV’s One Love sitcom television series.

Caryn is the founder of ShesPowerfulTV.com--an organization dedicated to creating transformational television, film, workshops and books to empower women across the globe. Ward Ross is a faculty member of The University of Transformational and Leadership Studies (under the direction of Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith).

An inspirational speaker, Caryn travels the country extensively with her message of personal power and authentic living. Her programs, workshops and lectures combine over 20 years of information and experience in the fields of entertainment, performance arts, writing, producing, psychology and personal development. Caryn of is a member of the National Association of Self-Esteem, Association of Female Producers, and The Association of Women in Entertainment. Caryn received her B.S. in Psychology form Howard University. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter and two dogs. CarynWardRoss.com

Linda Simensky

Linda SimenskyAs Vice President of Children's Programming for PBS, Linda Simensky collaborates with producers, co-production partners and distributors throughout development, production, post-production and broadcast for existing and new series including Curious George, Dinosaur Train, Super Why, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Martha Speaks and Sid the Science Kid for PBS KIDS, and WordGirl, Wild Kratts and The Electric Company for PBS KIDS GO!

Prior to joining PBS, Simensky was Senior Vice President of Original Animation for Cartoon Network, where she oversaw the development and series production of The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Courage the Cowardly Dog and other major projects. Simensky began her career with a nine-year tenure at Nickelodeon, where she helped build the animation department and launch such popular series as Rugrats, Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show.

Simensky is a past-president of ASIFA-East, and the founder of New York chapter of Women in Animation. She has lectured at numerous colleges and animation festivals, and has taught courses in animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has written for numerous animation publications and has had several essays published in books including "Nickelodeon Nation" and "The Children's Television Community."

Simensky holds a BA in Communications & History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Media Ecology from New York University.

Stacy Smith, PhD

Stacy L. Smith (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1999) is an Associate Professor of Entertainment at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on childrens responses to mass media portrayals (television, film, video games) of violence, gender and hypersexuality. Dr. Smith has written nearly 50 journal articles and book chapters on content patterns and effects of the media on youth. Her scholarship has appeared in the Journal of Communication, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Communication Research, and Media Psychology. Dr. Smith has also received multiple "top paper" awards for her research from the Instructional Developmental Division of the International Communication Association.

Most recently, she has been assessing portrayals of males and females in childrens media. This body of research informs the work of The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a program started by Academy Award winner Geena Davis. The results from Dr. Smiths research have appeared in a variety of popular media outlets, such as USA Today, The Boston Globe, MSNBC, salon.com, and People.

Franca Virgili

Franca VirgiliFranca Virgili (The Cheyenne Group) is an accomplished search consultant who has worked within the Executive Search community for over 20 years. She began her career in executive recruitment in Italy, her native country, where she worked for almost a decade with one of the main local executive search firms, I.C. Interconsult. There she progressed from a researcher role to the position of partner, working primarily with American multi-national corporations and solving their executive recruitment needs throughout the main European countries. This enabled Franca to gain a strong international dimension, developing a special expertise in the execution of "cross-country" search assignments.

In 1994, Franca permanently moved to the United States, opening the Los Angeles office of one of the major executive search firms in the country, TASA Worldwide/Johnson Smith & Knisely. Since then, she has specialized in the Traditional and New Media, Entertainment, Information and Communications industries, working with a broad client base which includes large scale multicultural companies as well as start-ups and portfolio businesses of venture capital and private equity firms. In 1999, Franca was one of the founding partners of The Cheyenne Group. Based in Los Angeles, she concentrates on assignments and working with clients on the West Coast.

Franca holds a Masters Degree in American Literature from the University of Rome and speaks English, Italian and Spanish fluently.

Jacki Zehner

Jacki ZehnerJacki dedicates her resources toward the advancement of women and girls. She believes that a more gender-egalitarian world is a more just world for all and serves in a variety of roles to further that vision.

As President of The Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, Jacki funds and works with a variety of organizations and initiatives with a particular focus on women's rights, women's foundations, movement building and media.  In 2012, Jacki became CEO of Women Moving Millions, a non-profit organization with a big and bold mission to mobilize unprecedented resources for the advancement of women and girls, where she has been a community member since 2009.  At its core, WMM is a growing community of over 180 people who have given gifts of a million or more directly to organizations of their choosing.  Jacki also speaks, writes and consults on issues relating to women, success in the workplace, wealth and investing, financial current events and high-impact philanthropy.

In 1996, Jacki became the youngest woman and first female trader to be invited into the partnership of Goldman Sachs. Most of her career at Goldman was in mortgage-backed trading, followed by two years in the Executive Office working in human capital management.  After leaving the Goldman Sachs in 2002, Jacki became a founding partner of Circle Financial Group, a private wealth management group consisting of a small number of women committed to managing their families’ assets and philanthropic undertakings.

Jacki serves on the boards of The Sundance Institute, the Thirty Percent Coalition, and the Christian Center of Park City, and is a former board member of the Women’s Funding Network, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The National Council for Research on Women, The University of British Columbia, and The Center for Talent Innovation.  She is also an advisory board member to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Pax World’s Global Women’s Equality Fund, the Women Effect Investments initiative of Criterion Ventures, The Shriver Report, The Women at Paley Initiative, Sundance Institute's Women's Initiative, and Gamechanger, a feature film fund providing investment capital to women directors. She is an active investor in documentary films and, in 2012, Executive Produced her first film, Ready to Fly.

Jacki is a member of many women’s networks: The International Women’s Forum, The Women Donors Network, The United Way of Salt Lake Women’s Philanthropic Network, The American Red Cross’s Tiffany Circle, The Utah Community Foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle; and, the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board.

In recognition of her leadership and philanthropic involvement, Jacki received the Outstanding Young Alumnus by the University of British Columbia (1997), the Women Who Make a Difference Award from The National Council for Research on Women (1999), the Annual Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Seminary (2010).  In 2009, she was named one of Women’s eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century, and in 2013, she will receive The Global Fund for Women's Philanthropy Award.

Jacki was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  After 25 years living in New York City and Connecticut, Jacki now lives with her family in Park City, Utah. Visit her site: jackizehner.com

Joseph Pineda

Joseph PinedaJoseph "JP" Pineda is a music industry veteran and the Founder & Chief Creative Officer of the Carmelita Group. The Carmelita Group is a boutique, full-service--strategy, branding, & PR agency that specializes in consulting for socially innovative nonprofits and brands. As Founder, Joseph oversees all aspects of the organization and drives their work in producing mission-driven campaigns and partnerships for their clients. The firm's rare and unique expertise in both—executing high-profile initiatives for internationally recognized brands and working “on-the-ground” with grassroots nonprofits and community organizations--has put them in high-demand amongst nonprofits and social enterprises.

As a music professional, Joseph has been recognized as a pioneer and leader in how the industry can best leverage the power of music for social good.

Throughout his career, which has spanned music, sports, and the nonprofit sector--he has been entrusted with creating and launching company initiatives within each respective industry. JP is constantly striving to take his clients to the "next-level" in their work—though it would be easy to be content with past successes that include leading marketing campaigns for the likes of: CBS, MTV, Boys & Girls Club of America, Universal Music, Island Def Jam, Janet Jackson, The Temptations, Motown, National Bullying Prevention Center, Lovelamp Records, The School Fund, NCAA, & Major League Baseball.

JP credits his Mom, who he describes as “selfless and fearless,” for instilling in him the value of hard work and passion for helping others at a young age. He uses these characteristics to lead the Carmelita Group yet also finds daily inspiration from his clients.

“Our partners are literally trying to change the world and make it a better place. They should expect no less from us,” he says.

In his free time, you can find Joseph pretending to be Spider-man with his nephews or losing his voice watching sports.

...Oh and not to mention, Joseph serves on the Board of Directors/Advisory Board for various nonprofits, manages an independent record label, and has performed in front of millions of people in various arenas, as a sports team DJ.

See Jane Fellow

Jarrod Walczer

Jarrod WalczerWalczer is a budding media executive and media researcher experienced in conceptually designing global cross-platform projects and putting them into successful practice. He is focused on the creation of and issues surrounding children’s trans-media productions. He is actively engaged in becoming a creative pioneer and vanguard for cross-cultural and cosmopolitan media content and communication technologies. In his free time, Walczer serves as amateur actor, puppeteer, vocalist, guitarist, and voice actor to facilitate the creative production of children’s programming. He was recently named the Director of the 2015 Media Research Initiative for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. In addition, he serves as the Manager of Global Productions and Associate Producer for QOL Media Inc., based in Los Angeles California. Academically, he is pursuing his graduate candidacy in a double masters degree program in Global Media and Communications through both the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Southern California. There he serves as a Research Assistant and Intern to Dr. Shakuntala Banaji on her portion of Dr. Martin Barker’s unreleased cross-cultural audience research study on The Hobbit film franchise. Outside of his graduate program, Walczer is a published author having examined Sesame Workshop’s international co-productions through the University of North Carolina Press in conjunction with the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR). He is an alumna of the Ithaca College Class of 2013 having a received the honor of Magna Cum Laude in his B.S. in Television-Radio.