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 & Development 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 Assistant, jellystone robinson (they/them) is a multi hyphenate maker, educator, and lover of people and art. They have held many roles, including Chicago and National Youth Poet Laureate, teaching artist in residence at Young Chicago Authors and Mutual Aid Coordinator at the Youth Empowerment Performance Project. Their work has been featured in The Library of Congress, Federal Hall, Vogue and elsewhere. They are a Davis-Putter Scholar, YoungArts and Assata’s Daughters Alum and they hold a bachelor’s degree in Film and TV from Columbia College Chicago. Accolades aside, this black transgender lesbian simply wants to use care and pleasure responsibly, to make things their loved ones might find pretty.
Nonprofit Project Manager, Natalie “Jo” Griffin (she/her) is a passionate advocate for and practitioner of social change. While her nonprofit experience lies specifically in education and global health, Jo believes that need arises from systemic injustice and therefore advocates for holistic service work. She previously ran performance management for Cook County and consulted for Chicago Public Schools while working for the Civic Consulting Alliance. Raised in college towns across the United States, Jo holds a Bachelor’s in Biology and Global Health with a Certificate in Civic Engagement from the University of Northwestern, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Social Sector Management at the University of Chicago. After graduation, she will join The Bridgespan Group in New York City as a nonprofit consultant.
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