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Founding Director/Board President - Nina Fiore EdM

Nina Fiore is the Founder and Executive Director of Astoria Film Festival, and an Advisory Board Member and Partner with thefor the CTE Film Program at the High School of Art and Design in NYC.  Nina has a BA and EdM from Harvard University and has long been involved with content production (for digital media, tv, and film), afterschool education, and nonprofit management. Nina managed the team at Viacom that created and launched the Noggin Channel and also created and produced content for MTV, Comedy Central, PBS, Sesame Street, Paramount TV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Comedy Central, Sesame Workshop, USA Networks, WE Networks, Merrill Lynch, Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Channel. She was also Senior Producer of the lifestyle tv show Everyday Elegance with Colin Cowie, and PBS's Wired Science.  Nina returned to MTV Networks in 2006 to lead their podcasting, SEO, and social media production, and then began her own business creating and managing digital content for numerous organizations.  Additionally, she has worked as an Assistant Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Executive Producer, and Editor on a number of Independent Films.​ Nina also has over 25 years experience in Education. She managed an After School Program in the Mission Hill Housing Complex in Roxbury, MA, created a Digital After School program at the Children's Aid Society in Harlem, NYC, that served as a pilot program for Intel's Computer Classrooms, and, after graduate school at Harvard, served as Communications Director and Grants Manager for an Educational Research Group at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School that worked with struggling Boston Public Schools. Nina also served as STEM and Art Instructor, and eventually, Director of Education, at Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, where she conceived of creating the Astoria Film Festival, to connect local youth with the filmmakers in the community and with industry professionals.  Nina is a disabled woman who homeschools her disabled son, advocates for disability rights, and resides in her hometown of Astoria, NY.

 

Board Treasurer - Slavko Bogdanov PhD is an Astrophysicist at Columbia University where he conducts research on high-energy astrophysical phenomena utilizing space-based NASA observatories. Previously, he was a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Global Fellow at McGill University in Montreal, QC, and a research fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA.   Slavko holds a PhD and MA from Harvard University and a BS with Honors and Distinction from Penn State University. He resides in Astoria, NY.

Board Secretary - Dauna Williams JD is a global attorney, an expert in leading and managing legal teams and operations, and devising cutting-edge, legal solutions and cost-saving, process improvements.  Dauna has practiced intellectual property, technology, outsourcing, privacy, marketing/advertising, entertainment, new media and general corporate law for over 25 years. As in-house counsel, she managed these legal practices and related global teams for corporations in the financial and insurance industries, namely Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and MetLife.  She is currently the Founder/Director of LexROI LLC, a legal and business consulting firm. Additionally, Dauna is a writer, producer and director of independent film and theatre, often with a focus on interactive storytelling. She founded an interactive digital marketing company in 1999 called Content360 and was one of the producers for the Tony-nominated, Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys.  Dauna has a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA from Brown University. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Ruth Fernandez  is a Queens-born artist who is a member of IATSE Local 798 as a HMU (Hair and MakeUp Artist and Groomer) for the film/tv industry.  While working in a salon in Chelsea in the early 2000's, she was introduced to her future mentor, who took her to assist on an independent film. Soon after, she found herself working on "Making the Band" with Danity Kane on MTV and was then asked to work on the group’s first video shoot in Los Angeles, which paved the way to her current career.
Today, Ruth is the go-to to many, both on and off the red carpet.  Among the stars Fernandez has worked with are Selita Ebanks, Brian Tyree Henry, Kane Brown, Laila Ali, Sterling K. Brown, Marlee Matlin, Brooke Shields, Miriam Shor, Gaten Matarazzo and Niki Taylor among many more! 
Ruth also has extensive experience with editorial, commercial work and high-profile advertising campaigns, including Ray-Ban, Bon Appétit, Interview Magazine Germany, Nylon, GQ, Weight Watchers, Welch's and Verizon. In 2017, she became a member of IATSE Local 798. This was a long time dream of hers, to be able to lend her talents and continue to learn and grow as an artist by working along side the best of the best in the TV/Film world.

Jo-Ann Grande Pjevac is a teacher at Vanguard High School in Manhattan NY and a mother of 2 young children.  She serves on the PTA Board for PS166 in Astoria NY.  

Maria Hantzopoulos PhD is an Associate Professor, Chair of Education, and Coordinator of Secondary Teacher Education​ at Vassar College.  Before Vassar, she supervised pre-service student teachers at Columbia University’s Barnard and Teachers Colleges and conducted staff development for middle and high school teachers throughout New York City and nationally. She also taught and worked in New York City public schools for 13 years, served on several public school planning teams, and worked with (and continues to work with) a variety of established youth organizations and professional educator organizations. Professor Hantzopoulos’ work has appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed publications and she is the author of the book Restoring Dignity in Public schools: Human Rights Education in Action (Teachers College Press, 2016). She is also co-editor, with Alia Tyner-Mullings, of the volume Critical Small Schools: Beyond Privatization in New York City Urban Educational Reform (Information Age, 2012) and Peace Education: International Perspectives (Bloomsbury, 2016) with Monisha Bajaj. She is currently conducting a multi-sited research project, funded by the Spencer Foundation, on project-based assessment in NYC schools. Professor Hantzopoulos earned her BA from Boston University in History, her MA in Social Studies Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and her doctorate at Teachers College in International Educational Development with a specialization in peace education.  She resides in Astoria, NY.

Tanya LeMelle is Vice President, Government Banking Relationship  Manager and Co-Chair of the Metro New York Regional Diversity Council at TD Bank.  Tanya manages a wide variety of community initiatives, especially those concerning diversity and social justice.  Tanya spent her earliest years managing entertainment industry events and celebrities.  She is also the mother of a filmmaker..  Tanya has a degree in Marketing from New York University and resides in Queens, NY.

Marta Márquez is the Founder/CEO of Chico&Punky Productions, an independent production company focused on horror tales and films.  Marta began her career as a journalist and then developed her career as a freelance producer in New York, Mexico, Cuba, Amsterdam  and Spain, working on commercials, television shows, music videos, independent films, and documentaries.  Marta is also an experienced filmmaker, having directed “Verano Perro” and “WTNY Bienvenida a Nueva York”, an award-winning Horror Short, shot on 16mm film. Marta has a Master´s Degree in Radio and TV Communications by Universidad Complutense de Madrid and also studied Filmmaking at the NYFA in Manhattan and Screenwriting at EICTV in Cuba.  She currently resides in the south of Spain where she is currently working on a Documentary Film about Andalucia with SkyNews Spain, and is working towards her PhD in Film and Philosophy at the University of Barcelona.

Tikki Mitchell-King is a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur who consults on a variety of Special Initiatives with a focus on Diversity and on supporting the Black Community, especially women, interested in film/media/tv/fashion/design.  Tikki has had an impressive career in entertainment and project management, from serving as Director of Communications for Tyra Banks, to creating and running a dizzying array of projects for the President's Office at MTV Entertainment Group where she works with MTV, VH1, CMT, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, TVLand, and Smithsonian.   Tikki resides in New Jersey.

Andy Rodriguez  is the Executive Director of Variety Boys & Girls Club in Astoria NY.  He has over fifteen years of experience in Youth Services and the non-profit sector. His experience includes advocacy for displaced families, designing and implementing dynamic youth programs, as well as program management and administration. He has worked in a variety of environments: schools, community centers, athletic programs and family residences. Andy understands and appreciates the transformative power that youth programs can play in the lives of the young people and families in the neighborhoods they serve. He has lived in Astoria for over 10 years and is excited to be a part of an organization that serves the community.  He resides in Astgoria/LIC.

Kathleen S Wilson PhD is a professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Interactive Telecommunications Program and is a founding co-partner of the Rikaroo Film Collective. She has been involved in digital media design, development and strategy since she created interactive multimedia projects for Bank Street College of Education in the 1980s, co-designed SimTown with Maxis and worked as an Executive Producer at Paramount Pictures’ Media Kitchen in the early 1990s. Kathleen was part of the founding team that created Viacom Interactive Services, Viacom’s in-house digital media development group, where she was the VP/Creative Director from 1995-2001. Since then, she has taught, consulted, and created digital media products, participated on a variety of judging panels, and given presentations on digital media creation and strategy to organizations worldwide. Kathleen has an EdD from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, a Global Executive MBA from TRIUM (a joint MBA offered by NYU- Stern, The London School of Economics, and HEC-Paris), an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA from Middlebury College. In her spare time she’s a app reviewer for School Library Journal and has published several novels for children and young adults.  She resides in Manhattan, NY.

Former Board Members:

Christine Serdjenian Yearwood 2018-2022

Rebecca Bratspies 2018-2021

Pete Tien 2019-2021