Founding Director (she/her/they) Nina Fiore EdM
Nina Fiore is the Founder and Executive Director of Astoria Film Festival, and an Advisory Board Member and Partner for 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, 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 (he/him) 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 and is a member of our Finance and Executive committees.
Board Secretary - Dauna Williams JD (she/her) 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, and is a member of our Finance and Executive committees.
Ruth Fernandez (she/her) 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 (she/her) is a teacher at Vanguard High School in Manhattan NY. Jo-Ann graduated with a degree in Education from St Louis University in the Philippines and has her Master of Science in Education focused on Teaching Urban Adolescents With Disabilities from LIU Brooklyn. She has been teaching in NYC public schools for twenty six years in "Special Education", English Language Arts, Literacy, and Humanities. Jo-Ann is passionate about Music and the Performing Arts. She also serves on the PTA Board for PS166 in Astoria NY.
Maria Hantzopoulos PhD (she/her) 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.
Suzanne Jones PhD (she/her) is the CUNY LEADS Job Developer at Queensborough Community College
Dr. Jones is skilled in organizational development, program management, educational training, cross-cultural management and
leadership. She previously worked at LaGuardia Community College where she provided leadership and support to the Young Adult Internship Program and the Summer Youth Employment Program. Jones also served as Vice
President at Southern Queens Park Association and as Associate Executive Director of Personnel and Public Relations for South East Bronx Neighborhood Centers. There she implemented numerous programs for mid-career executives and was instrumental in the organization’s fund development. A graduate of the Non-for- Profit School of Management at Columbia University, University of Phoenix, Mercy College, and Hunter College, Dr. Jones has extensive experience delivering programs on teamwork, corporate culture and performance management. Her career in higher education includes Mercy College, Nassau Community College, Lehman College and LaGuardia Community College where she is an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate Business School and Communications/Humanities Department. She has received many accolades for her work in the field of workforce development.
Marta Márquez (she/her) 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 works with SkyNews Spain, and is earning her PhD in Film and Philosophy at The University of Córdoba.
Tikki Mitchell-King (she/her) is Director of Community Experience at WPP, 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 worked with MTV, VH1, CMT, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, TVLand, and Smithsonian. Tikki resides in New Jersey.
Deirdre Morales (she/her) is a writer and producer based on the east coast. Deirdre began her career in children’s television at Sesame Workshop and “The Wonder Pets” on Nick, Jr. before receiving her MFA in film production from Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts. As a film student, Deirdre was a finalist for the PGA Debra Hill Fellowship and as a writer, her feature screenplay was a top ten finalist in the 2015 Bluecat Screenplay Competition out of over 5,000 entries. After graduation, Deirdre became Vice President of The Pod Advertising where she produced Emmy-winning video content and was the recipient of a gold addy for her work as a video producer and songwriter for the “Safer, Smarter Kids” animated series as part of a childhood sexual abuse prevention curriculum through the Lauren’s Kids foundation and Florida Department of Education. Other notable career milestones include amplifying diverse filmmakers through her work at Wise Entertainment and Film Independent’s artist development programs in Los Angeles. Recognizing that neurodivergent voices have been largely left out of the DEI conversation in film and television and specifically children’s media, Deirdre decided to create “N is for Neurodiversity,” an inclusive preschool series designed for neurodivergent children and their caregivers, which earned her a spot in the Disabled 2022 Children's TV Content Creators Lab, run by Respectability and Netflix. Deirdre lives in New Hampshire.
Andy Rodriguez (he/him) 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 Astoria/LIC.
Kathleen S Wilson PhD (she/her) 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.
Nina Fiore, Slavko Bogdanov, Dauna Williams, Andy Rodriguez, Kathleen S Wilson
Festival/Industry Outreach Committee:
Ruth Fernandez, Marta Marquez, Tikki Mitchell-King, Deirdre Morales
Community Outreach Committee:
Jo-Ann Grande-Pjevac, Maria Hantzopoulos, Suzanne Jones, Andy Rodriguez
Former Board Members:
Christine Serdjenian Yearwood 2018-2022
Rebecca Bratspies 2018-2021
Pete Tien 2019-2021
Tanya LeMelle 2019-2022