A highly sought-after public speaker, Ambassador Shabazz is a producer, writer, and diplomat who has spoken throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean. Inspired by her parents, Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, she is recognized as a masterful creator and astute businesswoman. She has been fondly termed by her colleagues as an “ideas architect.” In 1996, Ambassador Shabazz established the Pilgrimage Foundation in honor of her father’s spiritual journey to the Holy Land and in tribute to her mother’s lifelong legacy of service as an educator, as well as the leadership of both sets of grandparents.
The former Prime Minister of Belize recognized Ambassador Shabazz as a key advisor on International Cultural Affairs & Project Development. In 2002, he appointed her as the Ambassador-at-Large representing the country of Belize internationally and in perpetuity. Ambassador Shabazz has written op-ed commentaries and articles for newspapers and periodicals such as Time, Essence, El Mundo, and others. In 1999, she had the honor of adding to the list of her published writings the new foreword to her father’s classic, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and is completing a memoir titled From Mine Eyes.
Gavin Buckley, Mayor of Annapolis
Motivated by his concern for the quality of life for all Annapolitans, his love for Annapolis and his desire to give back to the city that has given him so much, Gavin Buckley is running for Mayor of Annapolis. It’s another chapter in a story that began 25 years ago when Gavin dropped anchor in Spa Creek. After sailing half way around the world visiting many different ports he fell in love with Annapolis. Impressed by the unique blend of colonial preservation, the maritime action and the small town friendly feel of the City, he knew he had found his home. He met and married Julie Williams a native Annapolitan, had two sons and put down roots in Murray Hill. Making his initial decision to stay was a bit risky. A newcomer with a few contacts, Gavin took a job as a server at Middleton Tavern he quickly learned the business and acquired enough savvy to raise the capital needed and mastered the bureaucratic process to open his own business on the corner of Randall & Prince George .. The Moon, Annapolis’ first coffee house.
A visionary entrepreneur, he saw the potential in an area of town that looked pretty bleak at the time–West Street, then a haven for drugs and prostitutes. Opening Tsunami, a pan Asian restaurant which quickly became the “in place” to be, he went on to establish other ventures, Lemon Grass, Metropolitan, and Sailor Oyster Bar.
Vitally interested in preservation, he initiated efforts to save several historic houses that were scheduled to be demolished by the city for an 800 car garage. Today those houses are filled with thriving businesses. Seeking to bring the community together he got involved with other West Street entrepreneurs to create family friendly events that are becoming part of the fabric of Annapolis.
Not a politician seeking a career path to higher office, Gavin just wants to serve as Mayor and work on issues that concern all Annapolitans to create a better quality of life for all.
Steve Burns is Executive Vice President of Content Production and Acquisition for CuriosityStream, the new streaming video service focused on factual entertainment created by Discovery Communications Founder John Hendricks. Burns leads the production and programming teams as they scour the planet for the best programming that fuels curiosity, from nature and science to technology and the human spirit.
Prior to joining the CuriosityStream management team, Burns served as Executive Producer/Consultant on WNET’s long-running SECRETS OF THE DEAD series for PBS and was Managing Director for Roller Coaster Road Productions, a media company producing programs for networks and the web worldwide.
Burns’ career spans more than 25 years with executive roles at National Geographic and Discovery Networks. At National Geographic Channels, Burns was Executive Vice President of Global Content for NGC worldwide. Prior to joining NGC, Burns served as Executive Vice President and Chief Science Editor at Discovery Networks, responsible for nearly 2,000 hours of programming per year across 10 Discovery nets, in addition to serving as Senior Vice President and General Manager of The Science Channel. He has won multiple industry awards, including two Emmys for FIVE YEARS ON MARS and SPIRIT OF THE RAINFOREST. His teams have been nominated for two Academy Awards, over 200 Emmy nominations, including dozens of wins, and two Peabody Awards. He served as the AFF Vice-President for two years.
RUTH ANDERSON COGGESHALL
Ruth Anderson Coggeshall has had a career in fundraising for over thirty years. Currently she is a consultant to non profits in her capacity as principal of Coggeshall & Associates. She was the director of the Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, the fundraising arm for the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the School of Medicine. Subsequent to that, Coggeshall was the chief development officer for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She has an abiding love of the arts and serves on the board of Funding Arts Broward. Coggeshall served on the board of the Annapolis Film Festival for three years in its founding years. She is a leader in her local community and nationally having served as a board member of the Girl Scouts of the USA and currently as a director of the Coast Guard Foundation.
Dick D’Amato is a government relations specialist, an attorney who graduated from Cornell University and a State Delegate in Maryland. Most recently, Dick served as the Commissioner of the China Commission and prior to that was Chief of Staff for two U.S. Senators. He has an active security clearance, Bipartisan Congressional advisory body tasked to examine and report to Congress on the full range of economic and national-security related U.S.-China relations. He was elected Chairman for two terms. Dick developed the legislation creating this body in 2001, appointed to serve for four terms by Senate Democratic Leaders. Testified before Congressional Committees, produced extensive annual report and recommendations to U.S. Congress, managed hearings and speaking engagements across the country. He has been Senior Staff Counsel and has held numerous high level positions, including: Counsel to Senate Appropriations Committee under Senator Robert C. Byrd, lead staff on Foreign Policy, National Defense and Trade ad Staff Director and Counsel to Majority Leader for International, Trade and National Security Policies, hiring and managing legislative assistants and interns on Foreign Policy and National Defense matters; lead Senate staff for senior bipartisan group on Arms Control negotiations with the Soviet Union and Alliance relations; lead Senate staff in developing positions on Global Warming issues.
James Edmund Datri
James Edmund Datri joined us in 2015. In addition to being co-founder of Miller/Datri Entertainment, a Harvard-trained attorney, former partner at one of the entertainment industry’s most prominent law firms (Manatt, Phelps & Phillips), and former executive director of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, Datri is currently president & CEO of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the only business league in the U.S. encompassing all segments of the entertainment, media and advertising universe, with members including CAA, Viacom/Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, and ICM Partners, as well as many of the world’s most prominent brands. He sits on 8 arts and media boards including the advisory board of the Annapolis Film Festival, and the board of directors of the Ad Council.
Ms. Davidson serves as Vice Chair of Women in Film and Television International and is a founding member and past President of New Mexico Women in Film. Her long and varied career includes acting, directing, and producing both television and movies. Janet’s New Mexico-made short film, A Piece of Pie, was one of the Governor’s Cup winners at the 2004 Santa Fe Film Festival and went on to win many other awards at various film festivals around the country, including Best Short Comedy at the International Family Film festival in Los Angeles. Janet produced the 2011 International Short Film Festival and is currently teaching Acting and Film at various New Mexico schools.
Marianna ‘Mimi’ Edmunds
Ms. Edmunds is a film professor at Emerson College and was a former director of the Maine Media Workshops. She has taught Broadcast Journalism at USC’s Annenberg School of Cinema Arts, and most recently served as Director of the Film Program at Maine Media College and Workshops where she serves on the MFA Committee in Film. A graduate of A.A. Bradford College, she has a B.A. degree from University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. from Columbia University. Marianna (Mimi) Edmunds has been a broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker for the last 28 years with CBS News, 60 Minutes, PBS, and Discovery. She has been an Advisory Board Member since 2012.
Ms. Finney is a passionate and committed advocate for families, youth, and children in our community, statewide, and nationally. Ms. Finney served as the President of the AACPS Board of Education from 1993 — 2003, where she represented the Board of Education to the community, to government and community agencies. She also served for 7 years as Executive Director of Equity Assurance and Human Relations for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, where she engaged with others to develop alliances to support parents, schools, and community organizations to positively impact the lives of our youth. Currently, Ms. Finney is a Coordinator for the newly established Office of the Ombudsman for Prince George’s County Public Schools. As founding Director of one of Maryland’s first Family Support Centers to promote self-sufficiency and as founding chairman of a non-profit that operated childcare centers, both public/private partnership ventures in public housing communities, Ms. Finney facilitated positive outcomes for young parents and their children. She previously worked at Anne Arundel Community College and has been a Trustee of the Anne Arundel Medical Center since 2012. Ms. Finney has been a part of the Annapolis Film Festival since its inception. This year, her role on the Advisory Board includes working on Community Outreach.
Debra Fortier has had three decades of experience in organizational leadership, board development, fundraising, and community outreach. As Co-Founder of The Annapolis Film Festival, she was instrumental in bringing the organization from its inception to a thriving reality. She served as Executive Director from 2012 thru 2014, when the festival became a growing entity, attracting a wide audience, and enthusiastically embraced by the community. She has served on local boards and commissions, including the Anne Arundel County Commission for Women, where she served for six years, three of which as Chairperson. During that time, the commission created and funded the first Anne Arundel County Battered Spouse Shelter. Also, as a member of the Maryland Commission on Prevention of Teen Pregnancy, she was involved in making recommendations to the Governor regarding this important issue.
Her love of film, and her belief in the power of storytelling to entertain, educate and enlighten audiences around the globe, drew her to be part of the creation of AFF, which she continues to support. She is currently acting as producer/executive producer on two independent documentary films and one full length narrative.
Jack Gerbes joined the Maryland Film Office as its location and project manager in 1992. He was appointed Director of the Film Office in 2002. The Maryland Film Office promotes the state to the film and television industry, and works with the productions as a location, logistical and informational resource while they film in Maryland. During the course of his career, Jack has worked on over 125 films or television series in Maryland. His credits include: “VEEP”, “House of Cards”, “Ladder 49”, “Wedding Crashers”, “Enemy of the State”, “12 Monkeys” “Runaway Bride”, “Step Up” and “Step Up 2”, “Live Free or Die Hard” and “The Blair Witch Project”. He has had the opportunity to work with film directors Terry Gilliam, John Waters, Jodie Foster, Tony Scott, Clint Eastwood and David Fincher. He has been a part of the AFF Advisory Board since the festival’s inception.
Director of both the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives Research Department and the Utopia Film Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, Mr. Haley has served on many prestigious boards in the world of African American genealogy as well as in the Arts. They include the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, Historic London Town Foundation, Jake Savage Foundation and the Annapolis Arts Alliance Foundation, among others. Mr. Haley is well respected as a speaker at numerous venues throughout the United States where he has spoken on themes such as African American history, self-empowerment and genealogy. He is also known for his many dramatic and musical appearances on stage, on Television and in Film.
Colby Reed Miller
Colby Reed Miller is the Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Miller/Datri Entertainment. Named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for his work in content and distribution, Miller led Sales and Content Development for Oath’s digital video platform prior to co-founding Miller/Datri Entertainment. His work at Oath spanned partnerships with the major media companies/studios (e.g. NBC Universal, Conde Nast, Refinery29), agencies (e.g. WME, GroupM), and brands (e.g. Unilever, Verizon), as well as production/distribution strategies for A-list talent such as Bill Maher and Demi Lovato. Miller launched his career as a C.P.A. at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the prominent “Big Four” accounting firms, and now sits on five arts, media, and philanthropic boards including the advisory board of the Annapolis Film Festival.
Michael I. Miller has been a Film and Television producer and writer in New York and Hollywood. His credits include comedy, drama and reality shows, as well as short films, features, TV movies and an award-winning feature-length documentary. His credits have appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO and others. At present, he serves on the Programming Committee of the Cleveland International Film Festival. He is a frequent visitor and longtime fan of Annapolis.
Joe Neumaier is a New York-based multi-platform content creator and film authority on-air, onstage, online, in print.
12 yrs at NY Daily News (7 yrs Chief Film Critic/Film Editor, 2 yrs Sunday Features Editor, 3 yrs film reporter). Currently: Q&A host, WOR film critic, consultant. Clips: Time, New York Times, EW, Fortune, London Observer, USA Today, FT, NY Post. He also does the main AFF conversations with and Q&A’s with our top guests.
Ms. Nyman has served as Executive Director of the Fiesta of Five Flags, Navy League, and for the CFC United Way Campaign. She is currently the Executive Director for the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County. Named as one of five Anne Arundel “Women of the Year” recipients in 2010 by the Capital Gazette, Ms. Nyman is also a grants panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council and has served on numerous Boards, including the Anne Arundel County Visitors Center, Annapolis Arts and Entertainment District and the Main Street Annapolis Partners Boards. She is also the president of the Community Arts Alliance of Maryland.
Director Sam Pollard, has been nominated for 2 Academy Awards and is the recipient of 6 Primetime Emmys and 4 Peabody Awards. A native of New York City, he is also a tenured Professor at the prestigious NYU Tisch School where he teaches filmmaking. An Editor, turned Director/Producer, Pollard has worked with some of the most prolific names in the film industry including Spike Lee, Kathleen Kennedy, Raoul Peck, & Martin Scorsese.
Wayne L. Rogers
Mr. Rogers serves as the Chairman of Synergics, which owns and operates renewable energy power stations and provides consulting services all over the world. He is also a principal of Synergics Films and Producer of the feature film Jamesy Boy starring James Woods, Mary Louise Parker and Ving Rhames. Most recently, Mr. Rogers is the CEO of Northeast Maglev levitating magnetic train, which will decrease travel time between Baltimore and New York to 45 minutes.
Danielle Trostorff is a shareholder in the Health Care Law Department of Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C. and has practiced exclusively in health care transactions, regulatory and compliance since 1981. She represents all types of health care providers and suppliers, as well as pharmaceutical and Medicare Advantage Plans. She is listed in Best Lawyers in America® in health care since 1993, Louisiana Super Lawyers in health care since 2007 and the 2016 edition of Chambers USA. She was named Best Lawyers in America® Lawyer of the Year in New Orleans in Health Care Law in 2013. Ms. Trostorff received her B. S. from Cornell University and her M.S.W. and J.D. from Washington University. She served as Chair of the Health Law Department of 2 major law firms. She was the first President of the Louisiana Society of Hospital Attorneys of the Louisiana Hospital Association. She served twice as President of the Women’s Healthcare Executive Network. She is involved in numerous civic and pro bono activities and recently served as Honorary Co-Chair of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s Encore fundraiser. She was also recognized as a “Pro Bono Champion” by the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA).
David S. Ward
Mr. Ward is the Oscar winning screenwriter of The Sting, film director and co-writer of Sleepless in Seattle, director of Major League, Down Periscope, The Milagro Beanfield War, Cannery Row, The Program, writer of The Mask of Zorro, The Boys of Summer and Buddha.
Tim White is a Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Star Thrower Entertainment. He recently produced LBJ, a feature film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Woody Harrelson, which will be released in the Fall of 2016. His first feature film, Jamesy Boy, starring James Woods, Mary-Louise Parker and Ving Rhames is now available on Netflix. Tim is producing numerous other Star Thrower film and television projects currently in both pre-production and development. Prior to forming Star Thrower, Tim worked for several companies focusing on film finance. Tim is a graduate of Williams College where he won an NCAA tennis championship. He has been an integral part of the Annapolis Film Festival each year.
The daughter of famed filmmaker William Wyler, Catherine Wyler was born July 25, 1939 in Los Angeles, CA. She is a producer and actress best known for Memphis Belle (1990), Ben Hur; The Making of an Epic (1993) and Filmmakers in Action (2005). Last year, Catherine served as a Juror for our Juried Shorts competition and conducted a conversation about her father’s works following a retrospective screening of The Children’s Hour.