Staff & Teaching Artists
John C. Williams, Co-Founder & Executive Director, is an award-winning film and television writer, producer and director whose credits include independent shorts, features, documentaries, television programming and corporate communications. Prior to founding Reel Works, John created original television for WNET/Thirteen, Oxygen, WE: Women’s Television and Metro Channels. John has produced numerous major market television commercials and independent films. John holds an MFA in Film & Television from New York University and a BA in English from Boston University. Email John.
Stephanie Walter Williams, Co-Founder, Artistic Director, Executive Producer, is an award-winning writer, producer and director whose credits include television, radio and theater. Stephanie’s television credits include documentaries for Lifetime, MSNBC, Metro Channels and CBS News Productions. Stephanie has created original programming for a variety of broadcasters, including VH-1 and WE: Women’s Television. After studying writing in college in New York and Britain, Stephanie moved to Manhattan and opened her own theatre company, The Black Market. Her play, I Vermin was presented in the 2003 NYC Fringe Festival. Stephanie holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from Stony Brook University where she serves as an adjunct lecturer and a BA in English from SUNY Brockport. Email Stephanie.
Alissa Cherry, Director of Education, is a youth media educator, sound engineer/designer, and photographer. She has her B.A. in American Studies and Journalism with a focus on popular youth culture and war time media from Brandeis University. She has her M.A. in Media Studies from The New School, where she spent two and half years studying and writing on media education pedagogy for at-risk youth. She is also currently working towards a Professional Certification in Trauma Intervention and Crisis Management at Rutgers University. Prior to joining the Reel Works family, she was a lead educator for the Coney Island Generation Gap film production program for two years, working with at-risk youth on film and photo projects exploring ideas of race, sexuality, gender, and religion. She previously lived in Washington D.C., where she was the Director of Communications and Partnership Development for the Phelps Stokes Fund, as well as assisting in policy and advocacy work with the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. She is the author of educational policy in 13 states, protecting the privacy rights of minors and has been an active voice in American youth rights for over a decade. Alissa, in her spare time, works on found footage films, transmedia design and storytelling.
Masani Davis, Program Director, RWiS COMPASS Program at West Prep Academy, has worked in youth services for over 20 years. She has directed programs throughout New York City from elementary to high school and has worked with funding sources as DYCD, AIDP, Advantage and Summer Success Academy. As a community leader and fundraiser she organized block parties and received major donations from corporations to ensure that students were equipped with school supplies and books to build a home library. Masani attended Brooklyn College where she did a double major in Speech Language Pathology and Film Production. Masani is currently responsible for the implementation and direction of Reel Works’ COMPASS program at West Prep Academy in the Upper West Side. This program provides after-school services and workshops to over 90 middle school students.
Abby Verbosky, In-Schools Coordinator, roots are in social documentary and street photography/videography. She specializes in media education while maintaining a professional practice. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Abby is fully immersed in the local photographic community. She recently / currently has teaching residencies in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. These include ICP, FIT, Reel Works Middle School and High School programs. Verbosky graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Photojournalism and Anthropology from Ohio University and is passionate about visual storytelling.
Caitlin Gibbons, RWiS Education Associate, is an arts educator, arts advocate, photographer and multimedia artist. She became passionate about art education while working as an educator and mentor during her undergraduate studies. She holds a BFA in Fine Arts from Parsons School for Design, and a BA in Education from The New School. Before joining the Reel Works team, Caitlin worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda. During her service, she helped develop a sustainable photography program at a residential orphanage for street children. She also explored the intersection of gender equality and development, working with women’s groups on gender equity, microfinance, and nutrition. Currently, Caitlin is a Teaching Artist at West Prep Academy in Manhattan, and the Artist-in-Residence at P.S. 323 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and loving it.
James C. Gantt, After-School Coordinator, is a New York City scholar, Hip-Hop teaching artist, and producer. He currently serves as the After School Program Coordinator for Reel Works. He has a B.A. in Individualized Studies from Goddard College where he developed a multidisciplinary historical research project titled Nieuw Amsterdam which talks about the history of New York and the positive roles that African descents have had on the cities development. Prior to working at Reel Works, James was a Senior Activity Specialist and Teaching Artist at The Door a Center of Alternatives where he worked with underserved youth between the ages of 12 and 24. During his 3 years at The Door, James received the on the job and offsite professional development that ultimately enhanced his abilities as a youth worker. James is certified in trauma informed care, mandated reporting, LGBT youth sensitivity, advancing youth development, ending violence against women, designing and managing quality mentoring program, and creating safe and inclusive environments for youth.
Ryan Rivard, Producer, Reel Works Productions, is a filmmaker originally from the “Live Free or Die” state. His recent short film OkStupid was an official selection at 2015 Coney Island Film Festival. His credits include Fuse TV, The View, and MLB. He’s produced and directed award-winning short films, including the Audience Choice Award at the Sleepless in Lake Placid filmmaking competition. He holds a BA in Radio/TV/Film from Marist College where he also minored in Creative Writing. Email Ryan.
Liam Mejia-Moran, Production Coordinator, Reel Works Productions, is a graduate of the 2005 Spring Lab. His short documentary, Journey to the Unknown screened at Tribeca Film Festival’s 2006 My City My Story. Liam has been featured in Latina Magazine as a young filmmaker to watch, and creates work about the latino community in Brooklyn. He is currently working on a personal Documentary called “Were Not So different“. He works with Stephanie and Ryan at Reel Works in their student run production department.
Joey Cheng, Development and Communications Associate, recently joined the Reel Works team in June 2017. Joey is eager to share the latest smashing news about our students and programs with the Reel Works’ community. Outside of communications, Joey works closely with the Executive Director to cultivate individual and institutional support for Reel Works’ programs. Prior to Reel Works, Joey supported the Development Department at two other nonprofits, Community-Word Project and The Resolution Project. She received a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University, where she also minored in Business and Psychology.
Hugo Rojas, is a Media and Art educator, and multimedia artist. He has a B.A. in International Relations from Mexican University and an M.A. in Media Studies from The New School. With over nine years of experience in education having taught from Spanish Language to Photography and video production in Mexico, Brazil, and NYC. Currently, he is teaching residencies in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He also explores public space through his art interventions, and in his spare time, he bikes around Brooklyn.
Katy Walker-Mejia, is a new mother, filmmaker, musician and educator originally from Austin, TX. She came to NYC in 2003 and has been living in Red Hook, Brooklyn for over 10 years. Her passion is working with youth, creating conscious media for and by youth and to continue growing as a co-creative human being. Katy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Transmedia from the University of Texas at Austin and has always seen herself as a multidisciplinary artist. Her first short films were screened at the Dallas Video Fest, SXSW, and more recently, the Red Hook International Film & Video Fest, the International Film Festival of Cinematic Arts, and the Radar International Independent Film Fest. She contributes to music video projects, web series and documentary films in many ways; producing, composing and placing music, writing, shooting, editing, as well as animation and graphics. She and her husband Joel formed Things Are Changing Productions, for “seekers of conscious media”. Their first feature documentary film, Time is Art, has been screened in theaters in over 10 countries around the world and was an official selection 2015 Chicago Blow-up International Arthouse Film Festival. Joel and Katy also record and perform spiritualized genre-bending music with their band, Dream Circle.
Omar Eaton, Recently shifting gears in becoming a youth media educator, Omar brings over a decade of experience in film and television to EVC. He’s edited for ABC News; worked in various capacities on a few nationally broadcast documentaries; worked as a freelance videographer/editor for a small TV station for a couple of years; and, fresh out of film school, taught a cinema arts elective to high school seniors.
Mark Lukenbill is a film and radio producer, arts educator, and film programmer from Rochester, NY. He was previously a documentary programs associate at the Tribeca Film Institute, and is part of the volunteer collective that programs and runs the Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn.
Alvis Rojas, Student Teacher, The Lab and Machinima