5th Annual State of Media Summit for Equity and Inclusion

Summit Schedule

12:00 p.m. (All times in PST) Introduction:
Christine Walker, Provincetown Film Society
Caroline Heldman, The Representation Project
Munika Lay, CIME

12:02 – 12:07 p.m. Keynote:
Jennifer Siebel Newsom

12:08 – 12:12 p.m. Benchmark Data Presentation:
Caroline Heldman, The Representation Project

12:12 – 12:50 p.m. Panel Discussion (hosted by Joy Donnell, CIME*):
Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility
Nosh McTaggart, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Rebecca Cooper, The Representation Project 
Nicole Haggard, Center for Intersectional Media & Entertainment

12:50 – 1:00 p.m.
Q&A & Closing

Featured Panelist Bios

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications, of the disability advancement nonprofit RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry.

She partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative.

Appelbaum is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab.

She is a sought-after expert and has been quoted by many national publications including Associated Press, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, IndieWire, The Los Angeles Jewish Journal, The New York Times, RealScreen, Reuters, Tablet, USA Today, Variety and The Washington Post. She has spoken on panels at the RealScreen Summit, Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, among others.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Appelbaum has a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University; she also has undergraduate degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She serves on several national and local nonprofit boards. Appelbaum currently lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and dog.

Rebecca Cooper

Rebecca Cooper has worked as a professional researcher for over a decade and is passionate about data science. She previously worked as the Senior Project Manager for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the State Preschool Anchor for Agenda for Children in New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated cum laude from Occidental College with a degree in Politics and a minor in Sociology. Rebecca also served as Director of the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum, a neighborhood museum and oral history archive, as well as a researcher for the Mossville Oral History Project at Louisiana State University, T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Her research has been featured in the Oxford University Press Oral History Review and the Contemporary Justice Review.

Joy Donnell

Joy Donnell is a producer, cultural strategist, author and activist dedicated to creating media that builds cultural legacy. She believes in owning your power and for Joy, power is owning your voice, image, narrative, influence and intentions. Joy’s work actively combines publicity, content strategy and media to build legacy and expand awareness.

Her storytelling expertise touches all of her work as she brings that insight to content strategy and content creation. When she isn’t behind the camera creating editorials and fashion films as a producer, she steps in front of the camera as a model and spokesperson. Joy is Chief Visionary of SUPERJOY Media and co-founder of luxury lifestyle platform, Vanichi. In 2018, she established the Center for Intersectional Media and Entertainment [CIME] alongside Munika Lay and Dr. Nicole Haggard.

As an international speaker, Joy shares her insight about branding, digital media and public image. Joy has guest lectured at UCLA’s School of Film, Television and Digital Media on that very subject matter and speaks globally about women in media, entrepreneurship and gender parity. Her ebook, Pitch Perfect, is a quick guide on establishing brand and PR best practices for the motivated entrepreneur. Her new book, Beyond Brand, focuses on using media to build cultural legacy.

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @doitinpublic.

Nicole Haggard

Dr. Nicole Amber Haggard is an award-winning instructor, speaker and published researcher with sixteen years of study contextualizing the intersection of race and gender in American culture. She is a faculty member in the Film, Media, and Social Justice program at Mount Saint Mary’s University and also spent time as the Director of Communications for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. In 2018, Dr. Nicole co-founded the Center for Intersectional Media and Entertainment (CIME/see-me/), an organization dedicated to advancing representation.

Caroline Heldman

Dr. Caroline Heldman is the Executive Director of The Representation Project and Chair of the Critical Theory and Social Justice department at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Her research specializes in media, the presidency, and systems of power. Dr. Heldman has published six books, including Protest Politics in the Marketplace: Consumer Activism in the Corporate Age (Cornell University Press, 2017), Women, Power, and Politics: The Fight for Gender Equality in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2017), and Madame President? Gender & Politics on the Road to the White House (Lynne Reinner, 2020).

Dr. Heldman has been active in “real world” politics as a professional pollster, campaign manager, and commentator for CNN International and Spectrum One. She has also been featured in the popular documentaries Missrepresentation, The Mask You Live In, The Hunting Ground, Informant, Equal Means Equal, Liberated, Nevertheless, and The Great American Lie. She splits her time between Los Angeles and New Orleans where she co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. Dr. Heldman also co-founded End Rape on Campus (EROC), Faculty Against Rape (FAR), and End Rape Statute of Limitations (ERSOL). She is currently curating with first Civil Rights museum in New Orleans with Miss Leona Tate, one of the four little girls who desegregated the Deep South in 1960. Dr. Heldman is also the national co-chair of #ERAnow, an organization dedicated to passing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

Munika Lay

Munika Lay is a Co-Founder of the Center for Intersectional Media & Entertainment (CIME) and Vice President of Film at Miramax, where she oversees the development and production of features like HE’S ALL THAT, the upcoming remake of SHE’S ALL THAT, and Mattson Tomlin’s MOTHER/ANDROID. She joined Miramax from MGM, where she worked on such legendary franchises as LEGALLY BLONDE and CANDYMAN. Prior to that, Munika was an executive at Paramount and Warner Bros., and she launched her career at QED International and WME. As an independent producer, Munika’s credits include THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE and the documentary RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT. Munika hails from Long Beach, California, and she earned her MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and her BA from Stanford University.

Ninochka McTaggart

Dr. Ninochka McTaggart is the Associate Vice President of Research & Insights at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and has been at the institute since 2016. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Riverside and a B.A. in International Relations and Sociology from the University of Southern California. She is a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist with comprehensive expertise on issues of race, gender, inequality, and popular culture. Her research interests include examining qualitative representations and stereotyping in mass media and popular culture. She is a published author, curator, public speaker, educator and consultant.

She served as guest curator of the exhibit, “Don’t Believe the Hype”: L.A. Asian Americans in Hip Hop” at the Chinese American Museum in 2018. Her research has been featured on KPCC, KCET, CGTN America and in L.A. Weekly. She has published in Sociological Inquiry and contributed to Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature and Culture. She recently wrote a book with Dr. Eileen O’Brien entitled White Privilege: The Persistence of Racial Hierarchy in a Culture of Denial. The book focuses on how race intersects with other systems of power in order to maintain white privilege in American social institutions. She has served as a consultant for various organizations to create and implement strategies and initiatives that promote awareness and understanding of issues of inequity. She is driven by her strong commitment to advocating for the equitable treatment of all marginalized groups.

Christine K Walker

An award-winning producer, Walker is the president of New Globe Films and the director of Diversity Initiatives at the Provincetown Film Society. Walker is also the founder and former president of Werk Work Works, a feature film finance and production company, Walker has dedicated her career to supporting independent production and independent makers of film. In addition to working on opportunities for hundreds of independent filmmakers, Walker’s own films have premiered at virtually every major international film festival and have garnered more than 100 awards and recognitions.

Among her directing and writing projects in development are: FAIRBANKS, ALASKA, and CAPTAIN ALII. Her producing projects include: STAY THEN GO, directed by Shelli Ainsworth starring the WEST WING’S Janel Moloney as a mother of a child with autism; DARLING COMPANION (Sony Pictures Classics) directed by Lawrence Kasdan starring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline; THE TURIN HORSE by Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr which was awarded the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize and the Fipresci International Press Prize at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival; the Sundance Film Festival premiere film THIN ICE (ATO) directed by Jill Sprecher with Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup; HOWL directed by academy award winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman starring James Franco as the beat poet Alan Ginsberg along with Jon Hamm, and David Straithairn. ; the Todd Solondz directed LIFE DURING WARTIME which won Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival in 2010 and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Walker also co-wrote and produced OLDER THAN AMERICA starring Adam Beach and Bradley Cooper; FACTOTUM starring Matt Dillon, Lily Taylor and Marisa Tomei, and line produced the academy award nominated AMERICAN SPLENDOR which garnered more than thirty two international awards.