Since our beginnings in 2015, BGDM has managed to operate as a first rate collective thanks to the tireless efforts of a dedicated community of highly involved and motivated members. For much of that time, the team was composed of two part-time staff: Founder and Executive Director Iyabo Boyd, a documentary filmmaker with a strong background in artist development, and former Community Manager Miasarah Lai, a documentary producer and award-winning cinematographer with roots in social justice causes.
Given the dedicated care and consideration they put into all BGDM outputs — communications, fundraisers, programs, meet-ups, and custom opportunities — it would have been easy to assume that there were far more staff behind the scenes. Like many filmmakers, Iyabo and Miasarah wore a multitude of hats. With the help of our dedicated community, we thank them for building the solid foundation and reputation that BGDM is known for today.
Over time, gender and racial reckonings combined with a global pandemic mobilized BGDM to great new tides. More than ever, our community needed personal connection and resources for career sustainability. In response, we brought on more staff to host virtual meet-ups, provide holistic artist programs, and kickstart timely grants to support our BIPOC women and nonbinary community directly.
Grants Manager Nat Ruiz Tofano joined the team to administer our grants and fellowship programs. Nat arrived at BGDM with experience as both a documentary filmmaker and a grassroots nonprofit management and programming professional. Combining their creative and logistical powers, they helped to build a robust program for our Black Directors and Sustainable Artist Fellowships.
We also saw the addition of former Artist Programs Manager Juliana Sakae. A journalist, documentarian and campaign producer, she spearheaded Feedback Loop and Mafia Mastermind until November 2022.
Both Nat and Juliana worked under the leadership of Director of Grants and Artist Programs Farihah Zaman, an industry veteran, activist, and award-winning filmmaker. With her years of expertise, she brings an in-depth knowledge of the field that supports BGDM in meeting the unique programming needs of our community.
Advocacy and Impact
At the same time, the staff also expanded to include Advocacy and Impact Associate Kitty Hu, an accomplished emerging documentary filmmaker and visual journalist .Her work includes launching, growing and maintaining the beloved BGDM Member Directory, the Job Board, and more recently, the Pay Transparency Project. Kitty’s scope for work entails cultivating strategic partnerships and participation in industry events to bring more tools and resources to the community, and build greater awareness and visibility for BGDM’s work, members, their projects, and accomplishments.
Director of Advocacy and Impact Nivedita (Nive) Das first came to BGDM as the interim Talent Manager at the tailend of 2021. She works closely with Kitty on developing advocacy tools and projects and provides general support to BGDM communications efforts. A documentary producer with over 20 years of experience working in program management in international development and governmental organizations, Nive expanded her role in 2022 to transitioning BGDM into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, setting up and enhancing operational systems and workflows, and further expanding staff capacity.
Digital and Communications
Deputy Digital Director Susan Q. Yin came to the team as a digital strategy consultant overseeing the redesign of the BGDM website and the community migration off of the Facebook Group. Building on her last role as the Associate Director of Communications, Design and Digital Projects at the International Documentary Association (IDA) she is developing BGDM’s digital and communications operations to better support BGDM’s growing commitments as a nonprofit.
In summer 2022, Communications and Social Media Associate Lissa Deonarain, joined BGDM at a critical time. Lissa is a documentary producer, editor and communications specialist with a background in digital publishing, illustration, branding and social media. Her career has been dedicated to supporting BIPOC-led companies and organizations rooted in social justice.
Together, Susan and Lissa are a powerful and impactful communications force. They have worked to move and set-up a private social network for our members, drafted and implemented minimum standards for brand guidance across the organization, and worked on new website content that centers our members, their projects and their voices.
Special Projects and Executive Support
The most recent addition to the BGDM team is Special Projects Associate Pola Dobrzynski. She comes to us with a solid foothold in arts nonprofit management and artist activist spaces, and has been working to support our executive management team, fellowship programs, and fundraising efforts. She spearheads special projects such as BGDM Presents and our knowledge management activities. Pola also provides essential day to day guidance for our operations, events, and general staff needs.
A New Era of BGDM
As we embark on new beginnings as a nonprofit, we bid farewell, and extend our gratitude to Miasarah and Juliana, as they return to their creative roots as filmmakers. They have left an indelible mark on the community and we support them on their new creative and professional paths. From a team of two to eight permanent staff (with more to come!), BGDM is well positioned to continue our work in service of our talented community of BIPOC women and non-binary documentary professionals. Of course, we cannot do this without your support. Make a tax-deductible donation to BGDM today!
For full bios and contact information of our current staff, please visit the Team page.