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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sunny Edelman | President 
Vice President of Membership

membership@upwift.org

   Classically trained in acting, Sunny has directed and performed roles from Shakespeare to Disney, working in regional, Off Broadway theatres, as well as in an Emmy winning television program and numerous Indie films.  She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Elementary Education from S.U.N.Y New Paltz and studied acting with Iza Itkin, Robert Castle, Bob Luke and Peter Sklar.  Sunny also took classes at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.  Sunny was also the events coordinator for the Hudson Valley International Film Festival, Assistant Director for the Catskill International Film Festival and Director of the East by Northeast International Film Festival.  In her spare time, she works as an Associate Casting Director with Hudson Valley Casting and Amy Hutchings Casting.  Sunny also teaches math and science at Twin Towers Middle School in Middletown, NY.  Sunny’s looking forward to working on the next Emmy awarded series, Indie Film or any film opposite Colin Firth. 


 


 

Jillian Fisher |Senior Board Member
Vice President of Marketing, Public Relations, Programming 

programming@upwift.org

Jillian Fisher began her career with the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Returning to her native New York, she joined the Board of Directors of the Hudson Valley Film Festival and went on to help establish the Woodstock Film Festival. In 2009, Jillian founded Jillian Fisher Public Relations. Clients have included The City of Kingston, the O+ Festival, Kingston Farmers’ Market, Woodstock Golf Club, the One Billion Rising Ulster County series against domestic violence, and Natalie Merchant’s Shelter concert, among others. As a location scout, Jillian has brought numerous films to the Hudson Valley and has secured the locations for such films as: King Jack, Growing Up Smith, Super Dark Times, Love After Love, Shotgun, Green Dolphin, A Vigilante, and others. Jillian will be producing her first feature film based on the short story, “The Traveler,” with Anjul Nigam of Brittany House Pictures as her producing partner. Jillian is a proud member of the Board of Directors of Upstate Women in Film and Television.

Lisa Padovani | Board Member

Lisa Padovani is a five time Primetime Emmy nominee and a two time Costume Design Guild winner. Her work has contributed to some of the most memorable characters on screen. Her many film and television credits include, “Far from Heaven”, “I’m Not There”, “The Departed”, “Shutter Island”, “Mad Men”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “Gotham”, “Dirty Dancing”, and “Sneaky Pete”.

 
Marie Nachsin | Vice President of Development 

Marie Nachsin is an accomplished professional with over 20 years of combined work in PR and marketing, fundraising, economic development and community relations, with a focus on nonprofit organizations.  In her most recent role as the Director of External Affairs at Stockade Works, Marie is responsible for leading efforts across the organization that include marketing, development, PR, community relations, and strategic planning initiatives. Marie has successfully led the marketing and fundraising efforts of various non-profit organizations throughout her career. Prior to her role at Stockade Works, Marie was the Director of External Affairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY), a 4 million square foot industrial manufacturing complex, where she launched a number of key marketing and strategic initiatives that helped generate increased awareness and critical support. She led the rebrand effort of BNY, which included a full reworking off all traditional and digital messaging, signage, and collateral materials. She also led the effort to redesign and relaunch the BNY website as well as develop and implement a new social media strategy for the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Marie’s marketing career began in the music industry, where she led the advertising efforts for all of the music labels within the PolyGram Group, followed by roles in direct marketing for Columbia House and Bertelsmann Music Group. Marie has a proven track record in implementing key strategic marketing initiatives and leading large-scale fundraising efforts, helping to generate crucial support and increased awareness for the organizations she has worked for.Marie has served on the Advisory Board for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Brooklyn Made division. She has also held positions on various public school leadership committees including SLT and PTA and chaired multiple programs across all of those schools.  Marie earned a BA in Communications from Rutgers University and a Developing Leaders for Non Profit Professionals Program Certificate from Columbia Business School. 

 

 
Fran Gully | Vice President of Programming 

Fran is a graduate of The New York Film Academy at Oxford University in Oxford, England. As a longtime member of Screen Actor’s Guild, (SAG/AFTRA) Fran has had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented Actors of our time. She has been instructed by such greats as Stella Adler, Uta Hagan, and Herbert Berghof. She’s also had the opportunity to work production on several independent films, and for Broadcast News Network. Fran has created a long running Cable TV Show about Singles over 40 coping with the loss of a loved one and new beginnings. She created, wrote, and produced a Radio Show featuring Environmental and Political Candidates, focusing on Renewable Fuels, that helped bring public awareness to alternative resources. She was the videographer on several of her own Indie Shorts that she also wrote, directed, and edited. Fran’s latest project is TOBY, a Children’s Book and future Movie/TV Cartoon that promotes diversity and anti-bullying. She is a member of both UPWIFT and NYWIFT and resides in Albany, NY.

 

 
Yvonne Potter | Vice President of Communications

Yvonne Potter is a graduate of King’’s College London (French & German) and launched her broadcast media career at the Maidstone Studios in Kent, England. Interested in exploring a career within the entertainment industry further, Yvonne emigrated to the US and completed the two-year Entertainment Publicity program at the UCLA. Landing a prestigious internship position within the International Film Dept. at Rogers & Cowan, she collaborated with the team on strategic publicity campaigns and press junkets for a variety of independent and studio feature films.Enthralled with the development process of script-to-screen, Yvonne freelanced as unit publicist on a variety of short and indie feature films. Pioneer producer Raju Sharad Patel, known for the cult classic “Bachelor Party,” which launched Tom Hanks’ film career, hired her as his researcher/writer. After Raju’s sudden passing, Yvonne was offered an in-house PR management position for Paul Anka’s 2005 “Rock Swings” album.Yvonne co-wrote an original feature film script with London-based screenwriter Lea Sellers, on the silent film star Pola Negri. Continuing to hone the craft and stacking her deck with projects she is deeply passionate about, Yvonne is completing two further feature film scripts. 

 
Jennifer LaFalce | Vice President of Special Events

Professionally trained, Jennifer’s roles through the years as an Actor, Dancer, Choreographer, Stage Manager and Assistant Director has led her to become a part of UPWIFT. Her many years of theater and professional experience, on and off-stage, include dancing with the Saratoga City Ballet and New York City Ballet, acting and dancing in various television/film works, as well as choreographing numerous theater productions. 

Dana Weidman | Treasurer

treasurer@upwift.org

 

Dana holds an MFA in Screenwriting from The American Film Institute Conservatory in LA and a BA in English from Grinnell College in Iowa. She is a Professory of Communications at Dutchess Community College and she Chairs the Communications and Media Arts Program. In 2016, she completed work on a personal documentary film called “Nobody’s Perfect” about the discovery of the genetic mutation that causes dilated cardiomyopathy in her family. She spent the last year traveling and presenting it at colleges, conferences and biotech companies. She has written numerous screenplays and published articles on screenwriting and digital media production in Student Filmmakers Magazine. She is a Board Member of the Gillespie Forum and was founder of the Eli Jaffe Film Competition for student film projects that address social issues. She has served as Chairman of the Board for Public Access of the Northern Dutchess Area. She was Vice President and Senior Producer for Robert Chang Productions in the 1990’s and produced videos, news releases and corporate communications for Pepsi, Pizza Hut, the Platinum Guild and Collagen Biomedical. Her videos featured interviews with Dennis Rodman, John McEnroe, Ringo Starr, Cindy Crawford and the Trumps. She won a Silver Anvil Award for Crisis Management for “The Diet Pepsi Syringe Crisis” and a San Diego Emmy Award for “America’s Cup 1988: The Race to Win.” She has been a Hudson Valley resident since 1994, living in Phoenicia and Tivoli and currently in High Falls. 


Diana Devlin | Secretary

Diana Devlin is a producer, director, writer who plied her craft in NYC for ten years before taking her skills into the agency world. Devlin was a member of NATAS, NY Chapter and served five years as an Emmy judge, served six years on the Board of the NY Film/Video Council where she created the International Short DocFest at MoMA; she was a NYFA Artist-in-Residence, guest lectured on the documentary at Manhattanville College. There she created a Social Justice Film Festival featuring her doc, Dreams and Wishes as well as films by inaugural guests Ron Howard and Christine Choy. In 2015 Devlin returned to documentary making to pursue her passion for creating compelling non-fiction films that illuminate the important under-examined issues of our times that especially affect women.  Along with commercial work and fashion videos, Devlin’s credits include line producer on feature Permanent Wave Dir: Christine Choy and these documentaries: American Nightmare/American Dream– Director/Producer, 75” feature documentary in production. About four women who overcame everything from homeless shelters to prison — to escape poverty, get a college degree and make the path for others to follow. Chesterwood, Producer/Director/Editor, 20”, about Daniel Chester French, the sculptor of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, and the Guggenheim’s sculptor-in-residence program at his Berkshire home.  Peru’s Shining Path, Director/Producer, 26”, distributed for TV throughout Europe and South America; toured the US with “Best of Festival” for the Latin American Film Festival.  Dreams and Wishes, Producer, 23“, 16mm, a doc about verbal and non-verbal communication in the Brazilian Amazon.  Amazon Gold, Producer (for ABCTV’s 20/20); 18”, 16mm, about the largest gold-strike of the twentieth century – in the Amazon. 

Hannah Sawka | Advisory Board President

Hanna is a Hudson Valley-based filmmaker. Her film directing started with 4 short films, ranging between 10 and 30 minutes and that were selected, nominated and/or awarded at 14 international film festivals, including FIAPF accredited festivals (DOK Leipzig, Cine Jove and others). Some of these shorts have been or are currently in broadcast. Her most recent completed film is a full-length documentary titled “Beyond Iconic: Photographer Dennis Stock,” which she directed and produced in the Hudson Valley. “Beyond Iconic” had a festival run that included being a finalist at the Sao Paolo International Film Festival (Brazil) and selections at DOC NYC, Starz Denver, FilmColumbia, and Hot Springs. It is currently in educational Distribution through the Alexander Street Press and has been sold to television networks in Europe and Australia. She is currently working on a second feature-length documentary. Hanna’s television directing experience includes directing nearly 40 crime reenactments for TVP 2 (Channel 2 of Polish National Television). She graduated cum laude from Smith College and she holds an MFA in Film, Television and Theater Directing from the Polish Film School in Lodz, Poland, which is listed among the top 15 film schools in the world. Hanna has also directed professionally in the theater. Hanna teaches film studies and practice, most recently teaching film studies courses at SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Ulster.

Advisory Board Members

 



  • Heidi Philipsen-Meissner, Founder & President Emeritus

  • Gaby Allen

  • Meira Blaustein

  • Nora Brown

  • Jane Cottrell

  • Heidi Eklund

  • Debby Goedeke

  • Amy Hutchings

  • Terry Lawler