Rockwood is proud to announce our inaugural 2023 MacArthur Foundation Art of Leadership for journalism and media leaders. This is a brand new partnership with The MacArthur Foundation created to develop emerging leaders and build capacity in the journalism and media fields. The MacArthur Foundation Art of Leadership will bring together 24 leaders from across the nation that work within grantee organizations in documentary film support, participatory civic media, and investigative reporting with the purpose of increasing the individual leadership effectiveness of these leaders and providing opportunities for relationship building and collaboration to support the movement for equity across leaders in the field.
The 2023 MacArthur Foundation Art of Leadership fellows are:
Ximena Amescua Cuenca | Manager of Artist Programs, Firelight Media
Ximena manages all aspects of program development and implementation for the flagship Documentary Lab at Firelight Media. She also manages Firelight Media’s grant-making initiatives, which include the William Greaves Fund for mid-career BIPOC filmmakers in the US, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, and the Impact Campaign Fund, which supports audience engagement and impact campaigns led by Firelight Media-supported artists and alumni. Since 2012, she has worked in the nonfiction film industry, mostly at nonprofit organizations working at the intersection of human rights, social justice, and art. Her experience includes documentary film directing and producing, cultural programming and events production, and social impact strategy. Ximena is from Tijuana, Mexico, and holds a BA in Sociocultural Anthropology and Media Studies from Pitzer College, as well as a MA in Cinema Studies with a graduate certificate in Culture and Media from New York University.
Shubha Balabaer | Director of Operations, MediaJustice
Shubha is passionate about how we can live into a liberated world within our movement. They love people and spreadsheets and fancy new tools. They are Indo-Canadian, living in Brooklyn with a partner and a toddler.
Alicia Bell | Director of the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, Borealis Philanthropy
Alicia came to this work as an extension of the work they’ve been doing to create reparation and restitution in our media systems. She brought with her: relationships, insight as a strategist and community organizer, and a willingness to collaborate with a variety of partners across and adjacent to the journalism sector. They also brought with them their lived experiences as a Black, Queer, Non-Binary parent, elder caretaker, sibling to an incarcerated/formerly incarcerated sister, and land steward, novice artisan, and powerlifter in Charlotte, NC.
Jessica Brown | Director of Development, American Documentary/POV
Jessica is the Director of Development for American Documentary, a media arts nonprofit based in Brooklyn, NY. Over the past 10 years, she has held various roles on nonprofit development teams and has spent the past three years leading fundraising strategy at the director-level. Her educational experience includes a BA in Communication Studies and Anthropology from Augusta University and a MA in Journalism, specializing in Documentary Filmmaking from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.
Paul Cheung | CEO, Center for Public Integrity
Paul leads The Center for Public Integrity, one of the oldest and most diverse investigative nonprofit news organizations in America, as CEO to hold the powerful to account, expose systems of inequality and equip the public with knowledge to drive change. Their reporting has led to hundreds of law and policy changes and forced federal and state governments to release information critical to the public interest. Previously, Cheung managed a $50 million dollar investment portfolio at the Knight Foundation to scale AI, business sustainability solutions, and mitigating misinformation. Cheung has 20 years of experience in leading digital transformation at media outlets including NBC News Digital, The Associated Press, The Miami Herald, and The Wall Street Journal.
hermelinda cortés | Executive Director, ReFrame
hermelinda uses organizing, narrative and strategic communications to build power, fortify lasting connections between communities, dismantle systems of domination, and build the liberated world we and future generations deserve. The child of Mexicans and West Virginians, country folks, farmers, factory workers, and trailer parks, she has dedicated her life to the journey of liberation and to the work of social movements for the last 15 years. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and believes in the magic, alchemy, and revolutionary possibilities of small towns and rural people. She is the Executive Director of ReFrame working to build narrative power to win.
Sterling Cosper |Membership Manager, Native American Journalists Association
Muscogee citizen Sterling is membership manager for the Native American Journalists Association, where he is a former board member, is former president of the Society of Professional Journalists, Oklahoma Chapter and current vice president of the SPJ FOI Committee. He was manager of Mvskoke Media at Muscogee Nation and resigned in November 2018 due to the tribal government’s repeal of the original MCN free press law that he helped advocate for and which has since been reinstated and strengthened.
Nivedita Das | Director, Advocacy & Impact, Brown Girls Doc Mafia
Nivedita is a South Asian independent documentary film producer, senior program manager, and social impact advisor with over 20 years of experience in international development across diverse global organizations. She is currently the Director of Advocacy and Impact at Brown Girls Doc Mafia, and leads the award winning production company, The Monsoon Diaries. Prior to this, Nive was the Executive Director of CatManDew Co-labs, an incubator for South Asian digital artists based in Nepal. She believes passionately in the power of people serving as their own advocates of change, and is a fierce champion of participation as the bedrock of all her work endeavors. Building on this approach, Nive hopes to produce inspiring, participant driven stories of hope, change, and truth; and work on projects and programs that place people, power, and social change front and center. She currently resides between Piscataway and Nacotchtank (Anacostan) land and Pune, India.
Anna Graizbord | Director, Marketing & Communications, American Documentary/POV
Anna is the director of marketing and communications at American Documentary, a national nonprofit media arts organization that strives to make essential documentaries accessible as a catalyst for public discourse, and produces two series: POV on PBS and America ReFramed on WORLD. Originally from San Diego, California, Anna has been working in the media industry for the last 14 years in New York. Her last role was at the non-profit political news publication The American Prospect as their first PR Director. Before that, she served as Associate Director of Creative Strategy on the business team at Quartz Media. Prior to Quartz, she spent four years at VICE Media in a variety of positions on both the branded and editorial sides, where her passion for filmmaking and content marketing ignited.
Ann Hill Bond | Community Engagement Editor, Capital B News
Ann is a Jamaican-born and Ghana-raised journalist with deep southern Black roots who enjoys the influence of Atlanta. As the Community Engagement Editor for Capital B, News; Ann is the primary liaison between Black Atlantans and the Capital B Atlanta newsroom. Entrusted to build relationships with the Atlanta community of readers, viewers, listeners and supporters. Ann was awarded the National Black Journalist Association “Black Press Grant’ to cover stories about the impact of COIVD-19 in our national K-12 school system in African-American communities. That same year, her article “Dear Black Man ”, won 2nd place in the Perspective Division category of the 2021 “Robert S. Abbott Editorial and Opinion Award” from the National Newspaper Publishing Association. Ann’s latest preservation work is research and reporting with The Atlanta Voice Newspaper, focusing on historical narratives that examine the understanding of land and the connection it has with people of African descent through the legacy of racial terror.
Erika Howard | Director, Impact Strategy & External Relations, FRONTLINE PBS
Erika is the Director of Impact Strategy and External Relations at FRONTLINE PBS, where she leads impact programming for the documentary series, and other forms of journalism. The intersection of storytelling and impact/engagement around vital social issues have been hallmarks of her work. She has helmed an augmented reality art exhibition tour for the Emmy Award-winning multi platform project, Un(re)solved, which examines racist killings during the civil rights era, she has curated a photojournalism exhibition on war crimes in Ukraine, and has contributed to impact efforts for the Oscar-nominated For Sama, highlighting the Syrian conflict. She joined FRONTLINE from POV/American Documentary, where she served as the Senior Director of Station Marketing and Audience Engagement, and had served as the Marketing Manager for Women Make Movies. Her panel work spans the Cannes Film Festival, SXSW, the Athena Film Festival, NYU, and PBS conferences on subjects such as impact, audience engagement, and multicultural audience growth.
DaLyah D Jones | Program Officer, Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, Borealis Philanthropy
DaLyah was born and raised behind the “Pine Curtain” of rural Deep East Texas. She serves as the program officer for Borealis Philanthropy’s Racial Equity in Journalism Fund. She is the former Director of Engagement and staff writer for the watchdog magazine Texas Observer. She’s also a former board member and Freedomways Fellow with movement journalism – journalism in service of liberation – collective Press On. DaLyah’s work in news and storytelling has been aimed at providing coverage to and by historically disadvantaged communities in Texas, especially in the rural regions. Her past work can be found at NPR, Texas Monthly, NBC Think, OkayPlayer, Texas Highways Magazine and more.
Michelle “Mush” Lee | Executive Director, Youth Speaks
Mush is the Executive Director of Youth Speaks, a leading presenter of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs. Mush is a poet, narrative strategist, and pioneer of spoken word pedagogy. A Harvard University Project Zero Fellow, Mush is frequently a featured speaker on the intersection of emergent cultures, racial justice, and solidarity movements, and women of color in leadership. Her talks and writings have been featured on Vogue, HBO, PBS, AfroPop, Summit Series, Social Venture Network, National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE), and the Berkeley Communications Conference.
Bruzette “Bijou” McDaniel | Communications Director, Youth Speaks, Inc
Born and raised in Oakland CA, Bijou came to Youth Speaks with a diverse background and skill set in the areas of non-profit development, event production, and marketing. In 2016 Bijou, along with a group of friends, founded a community-based startup called OAKHELLA which specializes in event production and marketing.
Jessica McEver | Director of Pop Culture & Media, Illuminative
Jessi is a citizen of Cherokee Nation and is the Director of Pop Culture + Media of IllumiNative, a women-led social and racial justice organization focused on changing the narrative about Native peoples on a mass scale. Jessi has dedicated her career to uplifting Native narratives as a producer and communications strategist. Her credits include LOVE AND FURY, CHILOCCO: THROUGH THE YEARS, OSIYO TV and TERLTON. In her current role, she is focused on building power for Native communities through inclusive representation on and off screen, challenging existing systems as well as building pathways and loving spaces for the current and next generation of Native creatives. She is a mother of two, fierce souls, pun enthusiast and eternal optimist.
Elijah McKinnon | Cofounder/Executive Director, Open Television
Elijah is an award-winning strategist, entrepreneur and visionary from the future currently residing on planet earth. Over the past decade, they have worked tirelessly to create brave and equitable spaces for intersectional communities to thrive through their business ventures: People Who Care, Inc; Reunion Chicago and Open Television (OTV). They currently serve as the Co-Founder of Open Television, an award-winning streaming platform and media incubator for intersectional storytelling with the artist and their creative visions at the center.
Evan Neff | Coordinator, Documentary Fund, Sundance Institute
Evan is a nonprofit arts professional working to expand the breadth of stories in independent film to affirm and embrace underrepresented experiences through community-focused artist support. Evan coordinates the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund and has served on review panels for Tribeca Film Festival, Impact Partners, International Documentary Association, The Gotham, and SFFILM. Evan produced Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green’s Don’t Call Me Gay Zelig (Whitney Biennial 2019), co-produced 32 Sounds (Sundance 2022) and associate produced Peabody Award-nominated Storm Lake (Full Frame 2021) and A Thousand Thoughts (Sundance 2018). Evan champions bold, underrepresented voices that have the power to create new ways of seeing.
Mutale Nkonde | CEO and Founder, AI for the People
Mutale is an AI Policy Advisor, she is the CEO and Founder of AI for the People and member of the Tik Tok Content Moderation Advisory Board. She is also a much sought after media commentator and her work can be found in Slate, the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review. In 2019 AI for the People led the advocacy for the introduction of the Algorithmic Accountability Act to the US House of Representatives; its language around integrating impact assessments into the product design process was integrated into section 207 c (i) of HR.8152, the American Data Privacy Act of 2022, find it here In 2020 AI for the people began expanding their work to UN systems through their membership of the UN Digital Impact Alliances’ 3C UN Round table on AI.
Luis Ortiz | Managing Director, Latino Public Broadcasting
Luis oversees the development, financing and production of Latino-themed programming that is distributed for broadcast/streaming via national public television and online at PBS.org. Ortiz also administers LPB’s Public Media Content, Current Issues and Digital Media funding initiatives, which support independent filmmakers in the creation and dissemination of Latino themed documentaries for PBS, as well as for digital content engaging audiences online. In addition, he serves as Series Producer for VOCES on PBS, LPB’s signature series that features the best of Latino arts, culture and history, and shines a light on current issues that impact Latino Americans. Ortiz manages the operations of the organization, headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.
Maria A Santos | Funds Program Officer, International Documentary Association
Maria joined the International Documentary Association as the Funds Program Officer in September 2022. She oversees all of the funding grants and provides year-round creative and strategic support to all IDA grantees. Previously, she was the Manager of Labs and Artist Support at the Sundance Documentary Film Program, since September 2020. During her time there, she was the lead on working with International Artists, primarily in Central and South America. Originally from Peru, Maria is an independent film producer who has worked in distribution as well as artist development at organizations including ARRAY Releasing and Cinereach. In 2018, she was selected as a Film Society Industry Academy member and became a Third World Newsreel Production fellow.
Abby Sun | Director of Artist Programs, International Documentary Association
Abby is International Documentary Association’s Director of Artist Programs and Editor of Documentary Magazine. Before joining IDA, Abby was the Curator of the DocYard and Editor of MIT Open Documentary Lab’s Immerse. She has additional bylines in Film Comment, Filmmaker Magazine, Film Quarterly, MUBI Notebook, Sight & Sound, and other publications. Abby has served on juries for festivals like Hot Docs, Dokufest, Palm Springs, and CAAMfest; nominating committees for the Gotham Awards and Cinema Eye; and panel reviews for Princess Grace Awards, IDFA Forum, BGDM, NEA, SFFILM, LEF Foundation, and Sundance Catalyst. Through her work, Abby considers the power dynamics in the documentary form’s inherent smudging of reality, with a particular interest in the media infrastructures and cultural artifacts of moving image circulation.
Robert Winn | Leadership Team, Asian American Documentary Network
Robert is a filmmaker and philanthropic consultant who helps remarkable people and organizations tell their stories, build power and create change. Based in New York, his background includes a JD from Yale Law School and an MFA from USC CNTV. He has worked with notable entities such as the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms team, Visual Communications, and Global Action Project. He is also proud to be on the steering committee for the Asian American Documentary Network.
Allie Redhorse Young | Director & Founder, Protect the Sacred (powered by Harness)
Allie is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. She founded Protect the Sacred, a program of culture change organization Harness, which focuses on educating and empowering the next generation of Native American leaders and allies. Through her work, Allie makes certain Native voices are centered.
María Inés Zamudio | Investigative Journalist, Center for Public Integrity
María is an award-winning investigative journalist. Prior to joining CPI, Zamudio was a radio reporter covering racial inequalities for WBEZ, the Chicago NPR station. Her coverage of the city’s water affordability crisis led to a moratorium on water shutoffs, a city-wide program to help low-income homeowners, and a state-funded $42 million water emergency assistance program. Zamudio has spent the last decade investigating racial inequalities and the policies behind them. Her coverage has received multiple awards, including the National Press Foundation’s Poverty and Inequality award, multiple regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Studs Terkel Award. Zamudio and a team of reporters from NPR’s Latino USA received a Peabody National Award for their coverage of Central American migrants. Zamudio’s story was reported from the Mexico-Guatemala border. In 2020, Zamudio co-created a first-of-its-kind FOIA mentorship program to support Chicago journalists of color working on projects with public records.