Working Films uses documentaries to advance social justice and environmental protection.
Recognizing the power of film to inspire, we position documentaries to increase civic engagement and shift culture at the local, state, and national level. We offer funding and in-kind support to underrepresented filmmakers. And, we share our learning and foster dialogue to further the field of documentary for change. We lead conversations and trainings with grassroots groups and nonprofits to ensure that nonfiction media is increasingly embraced as a critical resource in their strategies for social change.
Our work is made possible with generous support from the Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Kendeda Fund, Perspective Fund, Putnam Foundation, Southern Partners Fund, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and individual donors.
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and NGOs we've partnered with and trained
In her down time, you will find her attempting to rollerblade, listening to comedy podcasts, vying for her cat's attention, and spending time with friends and family.
Mara, born in Minnesota, is currently based in Portland, OR where she spends her time exploring green spaces, researching local history, plotting with her neighborhood climate group, and getting sticky with paper collage.
Anna brought previous experience as an educator to Working Films, using her background in curriculum design to enhance our trainings for filmmakers and nonprofits. Originally she directed the development and outreach of Working Films’ multi-media curriculum project, New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina. Prior to joining Working Films, Anna was the Program Director at Amigos Internacional, a Latino advocacy and education center in Wilmington, NC. Anna. She taught first grade in a bilingual program in Phoenix, AZ for two years and spent a year living in Latin America, where she studied Spanish and taught English as a foreign language. Anna earned a Master of Education from Arizona State University and a B.A. in Sociology from Wake Forest University.
In her current role at Working Films, Anna leads evaluation, stewarding core values of learning and innovation. Anna is also part of the Development Team that raises funds for our efforts.
Anna is part of the design team of the Rise Home Stories Project, a groundbreaking collaboration between multimedia storytellers and social justice advocates seeking to change our relationship to land, home, and race, by transforming the stories we tell about them.
Together with her husband Johnny, she’s raising two wonderful sons on the coast of North Carolina.
In Gerry’s current role as the Director of Filmmaker Services and Impact, he leads the design, implementation, and evaluation of services and funding Working Films provides to filmmakers. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the Global Impact Producers and the Steering Committee for the Asian American Documentary Network (A-DOC) and Happy Family Night Market.
In his spare time, you can find Gerry spending time with his dog and cat, Diogo and Esteban, biking around the city, and basking in his year-round Leo vibes.
As time went on she felt that it was important to give the next generation a platform through which they could make effective contributions, and cofounded a youth group within the same Association. She helped guide the youth group through planning and executing numerous events over a decade which served to benefit several local food centric charities in NC.
In addition to her volunteer efforts she has held a variety of administrative and director positions which helped her hone organizational and logistical skills that she is now excited to share with Working Films!
In her downtime you can find her spending time with her three (almost adult children!) before they fly the nest, as well as planning fun events that bring her friends, and family together!
Molly is part of the Documentary Accountability Working Group and on the steering committee of the Global Impact Producers Assembly. She also serves on the board of Justice for My Sister (JFMS), a collective that trains women of color, non-binary youth, and foster youth with a culturally-relevant and trauma-informed approach to tell stories through a gender equity and racial justice lens.
In her spare time, you can find her listening and dancing to music, gardening and staring at nature, playing basketball, and spending time with her family on the coast of North Carolina.
Andy also appreciates music's revolutionary role throughout history and currently plays saxophone in the Asheville-based radical marching band Brass Your Heart.
During her downtime, Amalia, who now calls San Jose/Bay Area home, enjoys collecting records, painting, learning how to mix music, hiking, and working on graphic design projects.
Stephanie Avery Taylor
In 2009, Stephanie was an honoree of the National Women's History Project for the Youth Environmental Education and Eco-Camps she created, which inspire children to become good stewards and protectors of the land. Stephanie has served as a board member of the Cucalorus Film Festival and co-hosted the community Racial Rewind film series which focused on racial tensions throughout history and sparked involvement from participants to be active members of society for improved race relations. As the former Director of Racial Justice at the YWCA she worked with other local organizers to bring an inventive education series, The History of Wilmington in Black and White to the area. Daughter of an Issei and raised in NC. Studied Philosophy & World Religions with a focus on Asian Studies at Coastal Carolina University and UNCW.
On occasion, you will find her teaching kids cooking classes centered on introducing cultures through food. In her downtime, she enjoys playing music, cooking, hiking, exploring and spending time with family.
She serves on many local, state and national boards that support community activism and local economy through arts, food, culture and tourism. She recently served as Chair of the Board of Alternate Roots. In 2015 she founded Artist Market-Pembroke, providing retail opportunities for local and regional artists in southeast North Carolina. Her love of community and films is expressed as the curator of the annual Lumbee Film Festival (along with Cucalorus) and the quarterly CommUnity Cinema (in partnership with Working Films). She expresses her creativity as a writer and workshop/training facilitator.
Through Be Connected Durham, Angel has emerged as an urban visionary, championing community initiatives that connect organizations like Duke Performances, Carolina Performing Arts, Airolina Young Aviators, SheaMoisture, and more, to their authentically diverse target audiences. Each of Be Connected Durham’s projects serve as campaigns to affect positive change for marginalized, yet highly capable and valuable contributors to our society.
Caty Borum Chatoo
Borum Chattoo’s social-change storytelling, strategy and research work has been featured in USA Today, NPR, Businessweek, The Huffington Post, and PBS MediaShift, and her social justice documentaries have aired internationally and nationally on Netflix, the Sundance Channel, Pivot, NDTV (India), PBS World, Link TV, KCET, DirectTV and theatrically. She has produced two documentary feature films (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and The After Party), a TV documentary and transmedia series (Stand Up Planet, starring Hasan Minhaj from “The Daily Show”), a multi-part documentary TV series focused on global poverty (ViewChange), a seven-part environmental justice documentary TV series (Sierra Club Chronicles), and PSA campaigns designed for social change on issues ranging from global poverty to climate change to HIV. At CMSI, her current research, creative and strategy work focuses on audience effects of documentary storytelling, nonfiction industry race and gender diversity, audience effects of entertainment storytelling across platforms, and the role of comedy in social justice.
Previously, she was senior vice president in the social marketing practice group at FleishmanHillard International Communications in Washington, D.C., focused on social-change programs. In Los Angeles, she was a longtime collaborator with legendary TV producer and philanthropist/activist Norman Lear as a founding director of Declare Yourself, a national youth civic engagement organization; and special projects director & senior producer at the USC Norman Lear Center, a research and public policy center that examines the social impact of entertainment on society. She also served as the program officer in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Entertainment Media & Public Health program; project director at the Center for Media Education; and fellow in civic journalism at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Borum Chattoo holds an M.A. in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania (The Annenberg School for Communication), and a B.A. in Communication Studies (summa cum laude, In Honors, Phi Beta Kappa) from Virginia Tech.
Courtney Symone Staton
Undergraduate work at New College in Sarasota, FL resulted in a degree in Psychological Anthropology with a Theater Minor. An entry level job with a theatrical PR firm in the Sardi’s building on West 44th Street gave her a good understanding of ‘earned’ media and a permanent love for the theater and media crowd who convened at the second-floor bar. Those contacts soon resulted in her sales position with The NYT where, over the span of a decade, she went on to win two Publishers Award for new business development and MVP trophies for their Co-Ed softball championship team.
During sixteen years as VP Advertising with The Nation magazine, Ellen worked with documentary filmmakers and distributors to build awareness and attendance for their films, often attending Sundance, Woodstock Film Festival and Docs NYC.
Additionally, Ellen serves on the Board of a Friends Group of the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area to support the National Park Service in conservation of endangered species, environmental protections and cultural awareness of historic sites in northeastern Monmouth County, NJ as well as Communications Director of a local chapter of Indivisible.
Her husband is a writer and creator of healthy cocktails and their son works for AmeriCorps in New Orleans on coastal restoration and sustainable flora and fauna.
Her One Race® program for children in grades K-5 has earned the admiration of school administrators for several years. One Race® offers an interactive and thought-provoking view of a day-in-the-life of children around the world. The program employs music, authentic artifacts and literature, and takes students on an imaginary worldwide trip to celebrate what distinguishes them from their neighbors, while revealing numerous similarities.
Pearl Girls Academy, a self-esteem program for girls, evolved from Kimberly’s own experiences of raising a teenage girl. As often as she could, Kimberly researched statistics on preteen and teen girl violence, body image, dating, and other issues. She became a certified facilitator for "Safe Dates," a program designed to help curb domestic violence among young daters. And, as school violence and gang influences became evident, Kimberly coordinated a forum entitled Youth Violence in Our Community, which has now become an annual event.
Her continued research led to an understanding of the key issues most girls face, while also recognizing that the skills to face these issues were sorely lacking. Pearl Girls Academy is the result of that work. When it was first offered to summer camps in 2005, the response was immediately positive and productive. The next school year, Murray Middle School asked Kimberly to bring the program in as an enrichment organization for selected girls. By the following school year, word of the program had spread. Eventually every middle school in New Hanover County, requested to have Pearl Girls Academy on campus.
Kimberly has also served as the Racial Justice Director of the YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear. In her time with the organization, developed and implemented programs and created alliances throughout the community. The end goal as always was to aid in establishing common ground, among people of different ethnic backgrounds. Kimberly designed the YWCA Cultural Competency Training workshops, utilized in those times throughout the county. She currently serves as the UNC Wilmington Inclusion and Diversity Learning Development Specialist. Her role is based in the Human Resources
Kimberly was named Woman of the Year by the New Hanover County Human Relations Commission. She has served on various boards for non-profit organizations within the community. Kimberly is also the “Night Nurse,” a radio personality on Coastal Carolina’s Modern Rock 98.7, where she continues to advocate cross cultural understanding through reggae and world music.
Vice-President of Product Management at a Wilmington, NC-based cloud banking startup, she has been in the software industry for 14 years during which time she has won the National Women of Color Technology Award.
She merges the tech and film worlds by writing on online film distribution and crowdfunding and has done so for Focal Press' Mastering Film blog, Filmmaker Magazine's blog and her own blog Beyond the Box Office. Up since 2009, it focuses on innovative ways for filmmakers to distribute their films, including set-top boxes, streaming services and mobile apps.
An authority on online film distribution, Malaika has been invited to cover industry events like National Association of Broadcasters, and has covered events like NewTeeVee Live, The Conversation, IFP and Power to the Pixel’s CrossMedia Forum NYC, DIY Days and SXSW. When last she checked, she was listed 84 times on Twitter in such categories as filmmaking, film-video, IPTV, new movie distribution and her personal favorite: Awesomocity.
She is currently a member of the Sundance Institute and a former board member of the San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild.
Having got to know Working Films co-founder Robert West briefly in the year before his diagnosis, it is her great honor to lend her skills to advancing the mission of the organization through membership on its board.
Peter has been a producer on numerous documentaries by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, including the PBS series JAZZ, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, and THE WAR. He has served in producing roles on landmark documentaries including THE UPRISING OF ’34, PASSIN’ IT ON, the Academy Award-winning AMERICAN DREAM, and many other celebrated films. He works regularly as a script consultant, writer, and music supervisor. More about his work is at willowpondfilms.com
Tracy is the co-founder of Longhouse Media, which was a non-profit focused on galvanizing Indigenous and local communities through film production. From 2005 to 2021, they worked with over 50 tribal nations and helped train 3,000 young people. Tracy has received the National Association for Media Literacy Education Award, 2016 Stranger Genius Award, and the Horace Mann Award for her work in utilizing media for social justice. She is a Firelight Media Fellow, WGBH Producer Fellow, Sundance Institute Lab Fellow, and Tribeca All Access Grantee. Tracy’s first major museum installation opened in June 2018 at the Seattle Art Museum. Tracy serves as a Mize Foundation board member, senior programmer at the Seattle International Film Festival, and recently completed her second term as a Seattle Arts Commissioner. She is a mother of two young men.
If you would like to make a donation in honor of Robert West, Working Films’ co-founder and longtime executive director who passed away in June 2013, please donate directly here to the Robert West Reel Engagement Fund. Like Robert, the work supported by the Fund will be creative and responsive to the needs and opportunities for social change.
Funds contributed to the Robert West Reel Engagement Fund will be used to honor Robert’s legacy and vision, and to support rapid response campaign development on timely environmental and social justice issues!