Yvonne Welbon (she/her) is an award-winning filmmaker and founder and CEO of the Chicago-based non-profit Sisters in Cinema, inspired by her documentary of the same name, about the history of Black women feature film directors. She is a Senior Creative Consultant at Chicken & Egg Pictures, and has produced and distributed dozens of award-winning films, including Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @100. Welbon’s work has been broadcast on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, BET, HBO, Netflix, iTunes and screened in over one hundred film festivals around the world. Projects in development include The Spies Who Loved Me, a thrilling exposé on surveillance which focuses on the six-years she lived in Taipei, Taiwan and American Pride, a Black lesbian coming-of-age series set on the south-side of Chicago. She has taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and chaired the Journalism & Media Studies Department at Bennett College. Raised in an Afro-Latinx Honduran household on the South Side of Chicago, Welbon holds a B.A from Vassar College, a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. In 2020 she became a member of the Documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.
Communications & Program Coordinator, Darah Gaines is a budding film director and storyteller. She has directed four short films and worked with brands to bring their creative vision to life through dynamic campaigns. She is a recent graduate from Delaware State University, where she gained a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising. She has an umbrella of experiences and is always seeking out new ways to learn. Currently, she is a Production Coordinator at Little Light Productions, a Social Media Coordinator at Mama Gloria Film LLC and works as an Executive Assistant to Independent Filmmaker, Luchina Fisher.
Program Manager, Sarah Oberholtzer (they/them) is a filmmaker, educator, and community organizer invested in telling stories that allow audiences to imagine alternative futures that support BIPOC communities. They have made many works for local Chicago advocacy campaigns including their most recent piece Love Letter to Chicago’s Black Womxn made in collaboration with the national Black Girl Freedom Fund. As an educator, they were nationally recognized by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs as the August 2019 Connected Educator of the Month. The city-wide PBS program Chicago Tonight also broadcasted a story highlighting their classroom and their students’ work. They received a bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television + Film from Northwestern University.
Project Manager, Cornell Braggs (he/him) is a Chicago born and raised filmmaker, who decided to take his chance at film in 2008. Since then, he has been involved in many projects from filming stage plays, music videos and short films. Currently Cornell is working on a documentary, which speaks on the past, present and future of the South Shore Neighborhood. “Having these opportunities within this industry has been a delightful challenge… I look forward to a limitless future.”
Financial Consultant, Hadassah Hickman (she/her) guides mission oriented ventures in aligning their strategic goals with financial planning and resources. She has over 15 years’ experience in leading and supporting nonprofit organizations through new stages of growth and heightened impact. Hickman has consulted to a wide cross-section of nonprofits including the Chicago Urban League, Girls, Inc, YWCA, AMPT, and Chicago Housing Authority. She serves as a collaborator and advisor to a number of nonprofits on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Hickman holds a BS in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago
Non-Profit Manager, Claire Knox (she/her) is a first-year Master of Public Policy candidate at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She is passionate about economic development, social justice, and equitable policy initiatives. While her nonprofit experience lies specifically in international development and peacebuilding, Claire is a strong advocate for equitable arts access and creative community-building strategies. Claire holds a Bachelor’s in Economics and International Affairs from the George Washington University.
Research Assistant, Payton Liberto (she/they) is a student in the Master of the Arts Program in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. She is concentrating in sociology with a focus on gender and sexuality studies. Payton’s MA thesis will assess the differences in the portrayals of Black and white women in sitcoms from 1990-2020. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a Secondary Major in Sociology from Florida State University. Payton is extremely passionate about uplifting others’ voices and conducting research to aid in this process. She hopes to one day become professor, conduct research, and serve as a consultant for film and TV makers.