Laura Checkoway is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. Her debut feature film LUCKY is executive produced by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) and had its television broadcast premiere on DirecTV. The film has screened at festivals across the globe, world premiering at Hot Docs and winning the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Urbanworld Film Festival in 2014. Laura has directed and produced documentary segments for Google, Scion, and PBS and is currently in production on a documentary, Edith + Eddie. With a background in journalism, Checkoway penned revealing celebrity profiles and investigative features for numerous publications including Rolling Stone and the Village Voice and is the former senior editor of Vibe magazine. Her acclaimed first book, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy (Simon & Schuster) was short-listed as one of the best music books of 2011 by NPR and she is the co-author of a forthcoming celebrity autobiography being published by Penguin Random House.
Julie Bridgham is an award winning Director and Producer of documentary film and television with over 15 years of experience. She was the Director and Producer for the multi-award winning documentary feature “The Sari Soldiers,” for which she was granted a Sundance Institute Documentary Fellowship, and was the recipient of the Nestor Almendros Prize for courage and commitment in human rights filmmaking. She has directed numerous documentary series and feature films that have taken her around the globe, and has produced for CBS, BBC, the Discovery Channel, TLC, and the Travel Channel, among others. She lived in Nepal for over seven years, where she produced and directed films for the United Nations World Food Programme and The Nepal Youth Foundation, in addition to “The Sari Soldiers”, and the feature documentary in-progress “At the Edge of Sufficient.” Prior to working in documentary film and television she was a Project Officer with the United Nations for the project “Ecologically Sustainable Industrial Development” in Costa Rica, and was a researcher for the human rights organization Andean Information Network in Bolivia. Most recently, Julie is the Producer and Director for the interactive trans-media documentary “Shifting Borders” following Nepali migrant workers in Qatar, and is an Executive Producer for the feature documentary “Drawing the Tiger.”
Dr. Pereta P. Rodriguez has more than 35 years experience as a mental health clinical practitioner and administrator. She has worked as a private practitioner and as a counselor/psychotherapist in social agencies in New York City and Washington DC. Much of Dr. Rodriguez’s experience has been on the front lines in heavily populated ethnic communities providing prevention services and counseling for families in the child welfare system; suicide prevention with college age students, and psychotherapy with domestic violence women and children returning to live in communities from the NYC shelter program. She was the administrator of the largest Prevention Child Welfare Agency in the Bronx. During her tenure at the Wellness and Counseling Center at City College, she set up medical and psychological services and a SAMHSA College Suicide Prevention Program as well as counseling services for veterans returning from deployment to register and attend college courses for credits. Dr. Rodriguez has an MSW from Fordham University, a certificate from the Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Psychotherapy Institute, and a DSW from Columbia University School of Social Work. She was a HHS Fellow and received recognition for her clinical services as well as her volunteer efforts in the Puerto Rican and Latino Communities.
Neyda Martinez is a producer and independent strategic communications and cultural consultant with over 15 years of experience. While working in marketing and communications at POV, the longest running showcase of independent documentary films on PBS, she completed graduate studies at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs earning an MPA in 2008. Presently, she is the communications strategist for America Reframed on the World Channel and is an engagement consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Libraries Association’s national public learning initiative Latino Americans 500. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at The New School in the graduate division of media studies. She is also the producer of the independent film LUCKY by Laura Checkoway and a co-executive producer of Cinetico Productions’ Cry Now. In addition to serving on the board of directors for Women Make Movies, she volunteers on committees for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Uprose and serves on the national board of directors for The Association of American Cultures, as well as for the Bronx-based dance company Pepatian.