Working Films uses documentaries to advance social justice and environmental protection.
Recognizing the power of film to inspire, we use 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 nonprofits to ensure that nonfiction media is increasingly embraced as a critical resource for their strategies for social change.
Our work is made possible with generous support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, 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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STAFF & BOARD
Natalie Bullock Brown
Stephanie Avery Taylor
Stephanie has an extensive background in racial justice and environmental education. She was a 2009 honoree of the National Women's History Project for the Leave No Trace Master Educator training and Eco-Camps she started, which inspire children to become good stewards 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 Racial Justice director at the YWCA she worked with other local organizers to bring an inventive education series, The History of Wilmington in Black and White. Her previous experience as a business office manager gives her a unique and valuable skill set for managing Working Films’ administrative needs.
Sara Zia Ebrahimi
Anna brings previous experience as an educator to Working Films, using her background in curriculum design to enhance Working Films' trainings for filmmakers and nonprofits. 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. Together with her husband Johnny, she’s raising two young sons.
It has been a lively and quick time since Keryl relocated to the Atlanta area after nine years in New Jersey. A native New Yorker with deep roots in both the North and South, this is her first time living in the South. It is different, and she is still trying to figure it all out, but at least she is not getting lost as much as in the early days!
A veteran arts management professional, stage manager, and director, her career now spans decades, and thousands of miles as she has lived and worked on both coasts, spending ten years in the Bay Area, working as Managing Director of Oakland Ensemble Theater, and serving as a board member for Theater Bay Area, a theater service organization for non-profit theater companies.
A brief stint as Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theaters led her to Washington, DC as Director of Theater Programs for the National Endowment for the Arts. Finally, the call came to serve as Managing Director of Crossroads Theater Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was in NJ that she spent six years working with the African Grove Institute for the Arts, (AGIA) founded by the late August Wilson, Dr. Victor Walker, and Professor William Cook.
A think tank and service organization, AGIA was born out of the historic National Black Theater Summit on Golden Pond, convened by Mr. Wilson. Keryl was Director of Institutional Development for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra when her life again took an unexpected turn as her husband came to GA to head up a health care firm.
It feels like home now to be working at Alternate ROOTS, an organization that has always been near and dear to her heart.
Hooray and thank you,
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.
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 later years with The Nation, 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 at the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.
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.
Lisa Kleiner Chanoff
In addition to her involvement with Catapult films, Lisa is a Co-Executive Producer of FRUITVALE STATION, and an Executive Producer of the documentary WATCHERS OF THE SKY.
Lisa has a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and practiced law in San Francisco and with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. After leaving law practice, Lisa received a master’s degree in Museum Studies and worked with museums in the San Francisco bay area, including the Contemporary Jewish Museum, designing exhibitions and education programs.
Lisa assists several non-profits in an advisory capacity, and serves on the boards of Working Films and the San Francisco Film Society.
Lisa has three children and lives in San Francisco with her husband Matt.
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 The War and Jazz, as well as the Peabody Award-winning Frank Lloyd Wright. He's served in various producing roles on films including The Uprising of ’34, Passin' It On (winner of twenty film festival prizes), the Academy Award-winning American Dream, and many other celebrated documentaries. He works regularly as a script consultant, writer, and music supervisor.
Tracy is the co-founder of Longhouse Media, a non-profit focused on galvanizing Indigenous and local communities through film production. Since 2005, she has 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 is in her second term as a Seattle Arts Commissioner. She is a mother of two young men.
During his time in the federal government, Will served as a spokesperson to local, national and foreign news outlets on a wide range of issues, including criminal justice reform, drug policy, immigration, public health and education. At the White House, he worked with filmmakers to plan interviews and events with the President and senior officials for documentaries airing on PBS/Frontline, MTV, Showtime and other outlets. He has planned high profile events and policy rollouts featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA TODAY and The Washington Post and managed appearances for government officials on Meet the Press, Morning Joe, 60 Minutes and The Colbert Report. As a legislative aide in Congress, he guided from introduction to enactment the first legislation to protect American military members from the health effects of toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been called this generation's Agent Orange.
As part of his work with media producers, he was Policy Director for the Impact Film Festival at the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions, where he coordinated screening discussions with politicians, filmmakers, celebrities and reporters. In 2013, he developed the American Film Institute's first Political Bootcamp for Filmmakers. He has spoken about film and policymaking at South by Southwest, the Tribeca Film Festival, Good Pitch and the International Documentary Association. He is co-author of a report series on films and policymaking that published through American University in 2017 (http://cmsimpact.org/report/movies-go-washington-documentary-films-public-policy-united-states-vol-1/).
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!