Advisory Board

Gavin Buckley

Mayor of Annapolis

Motivated by his concern for the quality of life for all Annapolitans, his love for Annapolis and his desire to give back to the city that has given him so much, Gavin Buckley is running for Mayor of Annapolis. It’s another chapter in a story that began 25 years ago when Gavin dropped anchor in Spa Creek. After sailing half way around the world visiting many different ports he fell in love with Annapolis. Impressed by the unique blend of colonial preservation, the maritime action and the small town friendly feel of the City, he knew he had found his home. He met and married Julie Williams a native Annapolitan, had two sons and put down roots in Murray Hill. Making his initial decision to stay was a bit risky. A newcomer with a few contacts, Gavin took a job as a server at Middleton Tavern he quickly learned the business and acquired enough savvy to raise the capital needed and mastered the bureaucratic process to open his own business on the corner of Randall & Prince George .. The Moon, Annapolis’ first coffee house.

A visionary entrepreneur, he saw the potential in an area of town that looked pretty bleak at the time–West Street, then a haven for drugs and prostitutes. Opening Tsunami, a pan Asian restaurant which quickly became the “in place” to be, he went on to establish other ventures, Lemon Grass, Metropolitan, and Sailor Oyster Bar.

Vitally interested in preservation, he initiated efforts to save several historic houses that were scheduled to be demolished by the city for an 800 car garage. Today those houses are filled with thriving businesses. Seeking to bring the community together he got involved with other West Street entrepreneurs to create family friendly events that are becoming part of the fabric of Annapolis.

Not a politician seeking a career path to higher office, Gavin just wants to serve as Mayor and work on issues that concern all Annapolitans to create a better quality of life for all.

Ruth Anderson Coggeshall

Advisory Board Member

Ruth Anderson Coggeshall has had a career in fundraising for over thirty years. Currently she is a consultant to non profits in her capacity as principal of Coggeshall & Associates. She was the director of the Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, the fundraising arm for the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the School of Medicine. Subsequent to that, Coggeshall was the chief development officer for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She has an abiding love of the arts and serves on the board of Funding Arts Broward. Coggeshall served on the board of the Annapolis Film Festival for three years in its founding years. She is a leader in her local community and nationally having served as a board member of the Girl Scouts of the USA and currently as a director of the Coast Guard Foundation.

Dick D'Amato

Advisory Board Member

Dick D’Amato is a government relations specialist, an attorney who graduated from Cornell University and a State Delegate in Maryland. Most recently, Dick served as the Commissioner of the China Commission and prior to that was Chief of Staff for two U.S. Senators. He has an active security clearance, Bipartisan Congressional advisory body tasked to examine and report to Congress on the full range of economic and national-security related U.S.-China relations. He was elected Chairman for two terms. Dick developed the legislation creating this body in 2001, appointed to serve for four terms by Senate Democratic Leaders. Testified before Congressional Committees, produced extensive annual report and recommendations to U.S. Congress, managed hearings and speaking engagements across the country. He has been Senior Staff Counsel and has held numerous high level positions, including: Counsel to Senate Appropriations Committee under Senator Robert C. Byrd, lead staff on Foreign Policy, National Defense and Trade ad Staff Director and Counsel to Majority Leader for International, Trade and National Security Policies, hiring and managing legislative assistants and interns on Foreign Policy and National Defense matters; lead Senate staff for senior bipartisan group on Arms Control negotiations with the Soviet Union and Alliance relations; lead Senate staff in developing positions on Global Warming issues.

Janet Davidson

Advisory Board Member

Ms. Davidson serves as Vice Chair of Women in Film and Television International and is a founding member and past President of New Mexico Women in Film. Her long and varied career includes acting, directing, and producing both television and movies. Janet’s New Mexico-made short film, A Piece of Pie, was one of the Governor’s Cup winners at the 2004 Santa Fe Film Festival and went on to win many other awards at various film festivals around the country, including Best Short Comedy at the International Family Film festival in Los Angeles. Janet produced the 2011 International Short Film Festival and is currently teaching Acting and Film at various New Mexico schools.

David Dizenfeld

Advisory Board Member

FILMSTERS partner David Dizenfeld is an award-winning film/TV producer and Beverly Hills-based entertainment/media attorney, securities-licensed, specializing in strategic alliances, branding and philanthropy.

As President and co-creator of Privilege, The Magazine of Philanthropy, David was integral in publishing fourteen issues and establishing significant brand presence in less than 20 months. David has been active in branded entertainment and integrated marketing, including as Executive Producer of Subaru's Legacy short movie featuring Dennis Hopper.

As a motion picture and TV attorney for MGM/UA Entertainment Co., David handled production, finance, distribution, worldwide trademarks, licensing and merchandising, and initiated in-house product integration and corporate tie-ins. He also served as pilot/series development Consultant for 20th Century-Fox / NBC's "L.A. LAW."

As an Olympic Games Attache, David coordinated corporate sponsorships, government relations, marketing, fundraising and media relations for the U.S. Virgin Islands, spearheading tie-ins with major national television and radio show hosts, including David Letterman and Rick Dees. As Director of the American Film Institute's Cinetex, David supervised the development and production of the international film festival, conferences and tributes. While Director of the Los Angeles County Office of Motion Picture & Television Development, he instituted innovative campaigns to encourage film and television production.

David received his B.A. from the University of Southern California, where he was Class President, and his Juris Doctorate from the UCLA School of Law, where he was a Regent Scholar and in the Moot Court Honors Program. He has been a member of the State Bar of California, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles Copyright Society and the Screen Actors Guild.

Marianna"Mimi" Edmunds

Advisory Board Member

Ms. Edmunds is a film professor at Emerson College and was a former director of the Maine Media Workshops. She has taught Broadcast Journalism at USC’s Annenberg School of Cinema Arts, and most recently served as Director of the Film Program at Maine Media College and Workshops where she serves on the MFA Committee in Film. A graduate of A.A. Bradford College, she has a B.A. degree from University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. from Columbia University. Marianna (Mimi) Edmunds has been a broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker for the last 28 years with CBS News, 60 Minutes, PBS, and Discovery. She has been an Advisory Board Member since 2012

Carlesa Finney

Advisory Board Member

Ms. Finney is a passionate and committed advocate for families, youth, and children in our community, statewide, and nationally. Ms. Finney served as the President of the AACPS Board of Education from 1993 — 2003, where she represented the Board of Education to the community, to government and community agencies. She also served for 7 years as Executive Director of Equity Assurance and Human Relations for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, where she engaged with others to develop alliances to support parents, schools, and community organizations to positively impact the lives of our youth. Currently, Ms. Finney is a Coordinator for the newly established Office of the Ombudsman for Prince George’s County Public Schools. As founding Director of one of Maryland’s first Family Support Centers to promote self-sufficiency and as founding chairman of a non-profit that operated childcare centers, both public/private partnership ventures in public housing communities, Ms. Finney facilitated positive outcomes for young parents and their children. She previously worked at Anne Arundel Community College and has been a Trustee of the Anne Arundel Medical Center since 2012. Ms. Finney has been a part of the Annapolis Film Festival since its inception. This year, her role on the Advisory Board includes working on Community Outreach.

Debra Fortier


Debra Fortier has had three decades of experience in organizational leadership, board development, fundraising, and community outreach. As Co-Founder of The Annapolis Film Festival, she was instrumental in bringing the organization from its inception to a thriving reality. She served as Executive Director from 2012 thru 2014, when the festival became a growing entity, attracting a wide audience, and enthusiastically embraced by the community. She has served on local boards and commissions, including the Anne Arundel County Commission for Women, where she served for six years, three of which as Chairperson. During that time, the commission created and funded the first Anne Arundel County Battered Spouse Shelter. Also, as a member of the Maryland Commission on Prevention of Teen Pregnancy, she was involved in making recommendations to the Governor regarding this important issue. Her love of film, and her belief in the power of storytelling to entertain, educate and enlighten audiences around the globe, drew her to be part of the creation of AFF, which she continues to support. She is currently acting as producer/executive producer on two independent documentary films and one full length narrative.

Jack Gerbes

Advisory Board Member

Jack Gerbes joined the Maryland Film Office as its location and project manager in 1992. He was appointed Director of the Film Office in 2002. The Maryland Film Office promotes the state to the film and television industry, and works with the productions as a location, logistical and informational resource while they film in Maryland. During the course of his career, Jack has worked on over 125 films or television series in Maryland. His credits include: “VEEP”, “House of Cards”, “Ladder 49”, “Wedding Crashers”, “Enemy of the State”, “12 Monkeys” “Runaway Bride”, “Step Up” and “Step Up 2”, “Live Free or Die Hard” and “The Blair Witch Project”. He has had the opportunity to work with film directors Terry Gilliam, John Waters, Jodie Foster, Tony Scott, Clint Eastwood and David Fincher. He has been a part of the AFF Advisory Board since the festival’s inception.

Chris Haley

Advisory Board Member

Director of both the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives Research Department and the Utopia Film Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, Mr. Haley has served on many prestigious boards in the world of African American genealogy as well as in the Arts. They include the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, Historic London Town Foundation, Jake Savage Foundation and the Annapolis Arts Alliance Foundation, among others. Mr. Haley is well respected as a speaker at numerous venues throughout the United States where he has spoken on themes such as African American history, self-empowerment and genealogy. He is also known for his many dramatic and musical appearances on stage, on Television and in Film.

Lynn McReynolds

Advisory Board Member

Lynn is a partner in McReynolds Elek Communications, a strategic communications and public relations firm. Before founding the firm in 2002, she was Senior Vice President of Communications for Discovery Networks U.S., where she oversaw communications for Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel and Discovery’s six digital networks. Prior to joining Discovery, she served as vice president of media relations for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and in public and media relations positions with the National Cable Television Association and on Capitol Hill. She has been involved in a wide range of community and non-profit endeavors, including serving on the Boards of My Sister’s Place, Washington, DC’s first domestic violence hotline and shelter, the historic London Town Foundation and the Bay Ridge Trust, a land conservation organization, as well as the Steering Committee of Anne Arundel Women Giving Together. She joined the Board of the Annapolis Film Festival in 2014, served two years as Vice President, and became President in Sept. 2017.

Lee Meltzer

Advisory Board Member

Lee Meltzer is an award-winning publicity and marketing executive with over a decade of experience in the entertainment, sports, and brand spaces. He develops robust strategies for clients including films, TV shows, events, podcasts, brands, as well as a personal talent roster of actors, directors, producers, athletes, authors, podcasters, CEOs, reality stars, and comedians.  Lee has secured placements in top-tier print, broadcast & online outlets and is also a 360-degree holistic thinker who conceptualizes unique, outside the box opportunities to raise additional awareness and increase transactions for clients. He attends and oversees content world premiere launches at festivals and tentpole events including Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, TIFF, SDCC and NYCC, among others.

Lee is a member of the E2AC Advisory Board & SXSW Film Advisory Board as well as Film Independent and The Podcast Academy.  Additionally he has been a guest speaker/lecturer/mentor at universities including NYU, Syracuse, SCAD, FIT, Eastern Washington University, and Jacksonville University and organizations including SXSW, The Gotham (formerly IFP), Annapolis Film Festival, and Ebertfest.

Michael Miller

Advisory Board Member

Michael I. Miller has been a Film and Television producer and writer in New York and Hollywood. His credits include comedy, drama and reality shows, as well as short films, features, TV movies and an award-winning feature-length documentary. His credits have appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO and others. At present, he serves on the Programming Committee of the Cleveland International Film Festival. He is a frequent visitor and longtime fan of Annapolis.

Joe Neumaier

Advisory Board Member

Joe Neumaier is a New York-based multi-platform content creator and film authority on-air, onstage, online, in print.12 yrs at NY Daily News (7 yrs Chief Film Critic/Film Editor, 2 yrs Sunday Features Editor, 3 yrs film reporter). Currently: Q&A host, WOR film critic, consultant. Clips: Time, New York Times, EW, Fortune, London Observer, USA Today, FT, NY Post. He also does the main AFF conversations with and Q&A’s with our top guests.

April Nyman

Advisory Board Member

Ms. Nyman has served as Executive Director of the Fiesta of Five Flags, Navy League, and for the CFC United Way Campaign. She is currently the Executive Director for the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County. Named as one of five Anne Arundel “Women of the Year” recipients in 2010 by the Capital Gazette, Ms. Nyman is also a grants panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council and has served on numerous Boards, including the Anne Arundel County Visitors Center, Annapolis Arts and Entertainment District and the Main Street Annapolis Partners Boards. She is also the president of the Community Arts Alliance of Maryland.

Patrick Osuna

Advisory Board Member

Patrick Osuna was born and raised in Crofton, Maryland. At present, he is currently a resident of Rehoboth, Delaware. A former USTA Tennis Pro for many years he traveled the circuit and played against some of the most well-known names in Men’s tennis. Patrick Osuna still maintains a ranking of 1132 in Men’s Singles U.S. tennis.

Osuna, a known influencer, has been involved in promoting several restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area and was a part of the campaign at the 99th White House Correspondents dinner. Since that time, Patrick has been instrumental in the marketing and influencing of brands for clients such as Shaquille O’Neal, and other notable sports and entertainment professionals. Patrick loves everything about film and the entertainment industry. He has also been instrumental in the nonprofit world promoting brands and introducing them to causes such as suicide prevention and other health and wellness initiatives. He has a long history of bringing nonprofits and brands together to benefit the community.

Osuna is also the Property Manager of Chesapeake Properties, which provides quality and affordable properties on flexible terms to professionals, naval officers, pet lovers, DC/Baltimore commuters, and Annapolis sailors. Most of their properties are located in the Historic District, only steps from the Annapolis waterfront, restaurants, and cafes. Chesapeake’s properties are all unique and each has its own story.

Sam Pollard

Advisory Board Member

Director Sam Pollard, has been nominated for 2 Academy Awards and is the recipient of 6 Primetime Emmys and 4 Peabody Awards. A native of New York City, he is also a tenured Professor at the prestigious NYU Tisch School where he teaches filmmaking. An Editor, turned Director/Producer, Pollard has worked with some of the most prolific names in the film industry including Spike Lee, Kathleen Kennedy, Raoul Peck, & Martin Scorsese.

Wayne L. Rogers

Advisory Board Member

Mr. Rogers serves as the Chairman of Synergics, which owns and operates renewable energy power stations and provides consulting services all over the world. He is also a principal of Synergics Films and Producer of the feature film Jamesy Boy starring James Woods, Mary Louise Parker and Ving Rhames. Most recently, Mr. Rogers is the CEO of Northeast Maglev levitating magnetic train, which will decrease travel time between Baltimore and New York to 45 minutes.

Lucy Spiegel

Advisory Board Member

Past Board President of the Annapolis Film Festival, Lucy has spent over 40 years in the entertainment industry. She was the former Executive Director for Contributors and Audience for CNN. She managed all outside political contributors, analysts and commentators who appeared across CNN networks and platforms. Lucy played a key role in the network’s extensive election coverage.

Previously, she served as Vice President and Senior Executive Producer of CNN’s weekend public affairs programs, including Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Reliable Sources and This Week in Politics.

Lucy helped launch This Week at War, named one of the "Top Ten TV Shows of 2006" by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She helped develop CNN’s award-winning On the Story and Take Five and oversaw The Capital Gang and Evans and Novak. She was an editorial producer for Larry King Live overseeing guest bookings, breaking news coverage and the production of Larry King Weekend.

She has worked at all three broadcast networks during her career, including 20 years with CBS News. During her time at CBS News, she served as bureau chief in Beirut and as a producer for both CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning. She currently serves on the Board of the Anne Arundel County Arts Council.

David S. Ward

Advisory Board Member

Mr. Ward is the Oscar winning screenwriter of The Sting, film director and co-writer of Sleepless in Seattle, director of Major League, Down Periscope, The Milagro Beanfield War, Cannery Row, The Program, writer of The Mask of Zorro, The Boys of Summer and Buddha.

Tim White

Advisory Board Member

Tim White is a Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Star Thrower Entertainment. Tim is currently producing KING RICHARD starring Will Smith for Warner Brother. Most recently, Tim executive produced Steven Spielberg's Oscar nominated THE POST with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Tim has produced numerous films including Matt Spicer's Independent Spirit Award winning INGRID GOES WEST starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen and Rob Reiner's LBJ starring Woody Harrelson. In addition, Tim served as an Executive Producer on Taylor Sheridan's WIND RIVER with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson. Tim is a graduate of Williams College where he won an NCAA tennis championship.

Catherine Wyler

Advisory Board Member

The daughter of famed filmmaker William Wyler, Catherine Wyler was born July 25, 1939 in Los Angeles, CA. She is a producer and actress best known for Memphis Belle (1990), Ben Hur; The Making of an Epic (1993) and Filmmakers in Action (2005). Last year, Catherine served as a Juror for our Juried Shorts competition and conducted a conversation about her father’s works following a retrospective screening of The Children’s Hour.

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