We are happy to announce our panel of judges for our This is My Family competition.
Dr. Jane Aronson
Doctor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Adoption Medicine, Founder of Worldwide Orphans Foundation
Dr. Jane Aronson, an internationally-renowned pediatrician specializing in adoption medicine and Founder and CEO of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). Known as the “Orphan Doctor,” Dr. Aronson is director of International Pediatric Health Services (IPH) in New York City, where she has evaluated well over 10,000 adopted children in her solo practice. In 1997, she founded WWO, an organization dedicated to transforming the lives of orphaned children through medical, developmental, psychosocial and educational programs. A sought-after expert on international adoption and the world’s orphans, Dr. Aronson has been featured in top media outlets, such as The New Yorker, People and The New York Times. She is a recipient of the Congressional Angel of Adoption Award in 2000,and was recognized as one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year” 2009. She is a parent through adoption and has two sons, Benjamin from Viet Nam and Desalegn from Ethiopia.
Emmy and Grammy award-winning producer Karen Bernstein has spent over 25 years working for and with some of the most prestigious producer/ directors in the documentary field, including Susan Lacy (PBS American Masters), Charlotte Zwerin (PBS American Masters), Helen Whitney (PBS American Masters and Frontline), Henry Hampton (Blackside), Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue (Body of War). She is currently the Supervisory Producer on Fixing The Future: NOW on PBS with David Brancaccio (air date Nov. 18) and Post Production Supervisor on Helen Whitney’s two-part documentary, Forgiveness – A Time To Love and a Time To Hate (April, 2011). Karen splits her time between Marfa, Texas and New York City, with her son, Mateo, their dog, Scout, and CAT.
An award-winning filmmaker, Phil Bertelsen works in both fiction and non-fiction. He produced the Peabody Award winning documentary Chisholm ’72 – Unbought & Unbossed. His feature fiction debut Rock the Paint premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival where it won a Creative Promise Award. His last film, Beyond The Steps is a documentary about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and aired on PBS’ Great Performances series. He is currently developing a series about early Black Hollywood and directing episodes of an unscripted series for MTV. His first feature documentary, Outside Looking In, examined transracial adoption in America and won a Paul Robeson Award. By acting as a mentor and advocate for adopted and foster youth, Bertelsen’s work with families and adoption extends beyond film.
Thomas Allen Harris
Filmmaker and Founder of Chimpanzee Productions
Thomas Allen Harris is the founder and President of Chimpanzee Productions, a company dedicated to producing unique audio-visual experiences that illuminate the Human Condition and the search for identity, family, and spirituality. Chimpanzee’s innovative and award-winning documentary feature films – VINTAGE – Families of Value, E Minha Cara/That’s My Face, and Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela – have received critical acclaim at International film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, FESPACO, Outfest, Flaherty and Cape Town and have been broadcast on PBS, the Sundance Channel, ARTE, as well as CBC, Swedish broadcasting Network and New Zealand Television. Mr. Harris’ video and installations have been featured at prestigious museums and galleries including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Biennial, Corcoran Gallery, Reina Sophia and London Institute of the Arts. Mr. Harris is a recipient of numerous fellowships and awards including a United States Artist Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Rockefeller Fellowship, as well as CPB/PBS and Sundance Directors Fellowships. A graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Harris lectures widely on the use of media as a tool for social change.
Deann Borshay Liem
Deann Borshay Liem has over 20 years of experience working in the development, production and distribution of educational and public television programming. Her first film, First Person Plural (POV 2000; encore Aug. 10, 2010), was nominated for an Emmy. She was also co-executive producer for Spencer Nakasako’s Kelly Loves Tony (POV 1998) and the Emmy-winning a.k.a. Don Bonus (POV 1996). She served as co-producer for Marianne Teleki’s Special Circumstances. Liem is the former director of the National Asian American Telecommunications Association (now the Center for Asian American Media), where she supervised the development, distribution and broadcast of new films for public television and worked with Congress to support minority representation in public media. She was a Sundance Institute Fellow and a recipient of a Rockefeller Film/Video Fellowship for In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, Paul, and her son, Nicholas.
News Anchor and Special Correspondent
Soledad O’Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN/U.S. Since joining the network in 2003, O’Brien has reported breaking news from around the globe and has produced award-winning and record-breaking documentaries on the most important stories facing the world today. She also covers political news as part of CNN’s “Best Political Team on Television.” O’Brien’s most recent documentaries include Almighty Debt, a special that explores how one church is helping its 7,000 parishioners survive the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Rescued, a look at Haiti’s remarkable children before, during and after the devastating earthquake and Gary and Tony Have a Baby, the story of two gay men and their struggle to have a baby that has a biological and legal connection to both of them. In 2009, Soledad reported for Latino in America, a wide-ranging look at Latinos living in this country; how they’re reshaping America and how America is reshaping them. Prior, O’Brien reported for Black in America 2, a four-hour documentary focusing on successful community leaders who are improving the lives of African-Americans. O’Brien’s reporting for Black in America in 2008 revealed the state of Black America 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The National Association of Black Journalists named O’Brien the Journalist of the Year in 2010.
Nicole Opper’s filmmaking credits include producing the Emmy-nominated The Killer Within (Toronto International Film Festival, Discovery Channel), Sacco and Vanzetti (Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Winner of Best Historical Film by the American Historical Society) and the here! network’s five-part documentary series LSS. She was selected for Filmmaker magazine’s annual list of “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2009 and for Heeb magazine’s list of “100 Jews You Need To Know About” in 2008. Off and Running was an Audience Favorite Finalist at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, and won awards at Outfest, Milan International Women’s Film Festival, Philadelphia QFest, SILVERDOCS Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Ann Arbor Film Festival. A Brooklyn resident, she is currently a Fulbright Fellow in Mexico, where she is in production on The Ipo Boys(working title), a documentary about an innovative group home for abandoned youth.
Author, Singer, Songwriter
Zara Phillips was adopted in London England and started her career as a backing vocalist for Bob Geldof and Matt Bianco. Her book ‘Mother Me’ An Adopted woman’s Journey to Motherhood was published by BAAF The British Association of Adoption and Fostering in 2008. The American updated edition is being published by Gemma Media Feb 14th 2011. Zara also directed and produced a 30 minute documentary Roots Unknown which has been screened within the adoption community and was the homegrown winner of The NJ Garden state film festival. Zara wrote a song with hip hop pioneer DMC Darryl McDaniel’s called “I’m Legit” about the struggle for gaining open records for adopted people in the U.S. Zara resides in New Jersey. To find out more information about Zara please visit: www.zarahphillips.com
Stephanie Wang-Breal has been producing stories for television since 1999. She has worked with various media outlets, including CNN, MTV, the Biography Channel and UNICEF. In 2006, Wang-Breal produced and directed her first short independent film, From Infirmity to Firmness, about the beneficial aspects of yoga for individuals living with HIV. The film screened at the San Francisco Short Film Festival in 2007 and helped the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York receive a grant from the Walt Disney Foundation for its free HIV-positive yoga classes. Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy marks Stephanie’s debut as a feature documentary filmmaker.
You can submit your stories by uploading a new video, or linking to an existing video on our This is My Family webpage. Deadline is November 15!