NEW YORK (July 7, 2014) – Chicken & Egg Pictures, which supports women non-fiction filmmakers whose diverse voices and dynamic storytelling have the power to catalyze change, at home and around the globe, today announced the appointment of an impressive group of five new members to its Advisory Board.

As the only nonprofit film fund dedicated solely to supporting women documentary directors, Chicken & Egg Pictures matches strategic financial support with creative mentorship offered at critical stages in the work of filmmakers. Since 2005, Chicken & Egg Pictures supported more than 160 film projects with over $3.3 million in grants and 5,000 hours in mentorship directly to filmmakers. Films supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures have gone on to win Academy Awards®, Emmy® Awards, Peabodys, and the Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize; and changed hearts, minds, and policy in the process.

Chicken & Egg Pictures connects filmmakers with activists, NGOs, film festivals, and others to collaborate for social, economic, and environmental justice as well as human rights. The organization has special funds dedicated to creating social change including an Environmental Film Fund, a Human Rights Film Fund, and the award-winning REEL Reproductive Justice Film Cohort.

New members announced today are: Michelle Byrd, Laura Dierks, Roswitha Mueller-Agarwal, Dawn Porter, and Alexandra Shiva. Existing board members who will continue to serve on the board are: Dominique Bravo, Angela Jones and Amy Richards. Bios for the Advisory Board members are below.

“We are excited to welcome these talented women on the Advisory Board who are committed to supporting our vision for the organization and staying true to our roots: Powerful stories will always come first,” said Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “Earlier this year we set a number of aggressive new goals ahead of our tenth anniversary in 2015 focused on increasing our leadership, capacity, and infrastructure. This has included expanding our advisory board committed to development, communication, successful governance and operations, hiring new professional staff, as well as a commitment to build greater impact campaigns around documentary films. This year we also have a new, special focus, designed to make sure women are both behind and in front of the camera.”

“These board members have a wide range of experience from philanthropy, nonprofit leadership, financial management, technology innovation, social entrepreneurship, women's rights, private sector management, documentary filmmaking, journalism and social justice,” said Wolfson. “Now as a team with our existing members, who have been instrumental in getting us to this stage during our first decade, we have a board that will help us achieve our significant goals of growth and increased impact.”

About the Advisory Board

Chicken & Egg Pictures was co-founded in 2005 by Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger and Judith Helfand who remain deeply committed and engaged in the organization. Since its founding, the organization has been a project of the Tides Center. It has an Advisory Board and a group of informal advisors called Eggsperts.


Dominique Bravo

Dominique is an attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing artists, labor unions, and other individuals and organizations. She is a co-founder of Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance, a dance and drumming studio and performance space in Brooklyn, and is the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Girl Be Heard, a non-profit organization that empowers girls through theatre and the performing arts. She is also the Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of the Red Hook Initiative, a community organization in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, and serves on Community Board 6.   

Michelle ByrdNew Member

Michelle is the principal of Run It By Byrd, a strategic consultancy working with public, private, and non-profit media and entertainment entities. For three years she served as Co-President of Games for Change, where she produced the organization’s annual festival and served as an executive producer of the Half the Sky Movement games. Prior to that, for 12 years she served as Executive Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project, where she was honored with a Made in NY award from Mayor Bloomberg for her leadership. Michelle has served on numerous film festival juries and funding review panels, including Tribeca Film Institute’s New Media Fund, Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition, USA Fellows, National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. She sits on the Board of Directors of The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, and on the Advisory Boards of Cinelan and Culture Shed. In 2008, Chicken & Egg Pictures presented Michelle with the first ever Good Egg Award to celebrate her work in independent film.

Laura DierksNew Member

Laura, an entrepreneur, brings years of business savvy and resource management skills to her philanthropic endeavors. A lifelong film lover and a fixture on the documentary film festival circuit, Laura hopes to use her analytical skills to find new opportunities for Chicken & Egg to grow its impact on the field. Laura currently serves as Board President of the Montessori Day School of Brooklyn, where she oversees a budget of $2 million. Previously, Laura was the Head of Operations for Conchango NY, a UK-based consulting firm. Laura holds a BS in Geology with a concentration in geophysics.  

Angela Jones

Angela Jones is Program Specialist, Effective Philanthropy for Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) where she designs professional development seminars for grantmakers and programs on emerging issues in philanthropy. In her role as Program Specialist, she also manages NCG’s member committees—Family Philanthropy Exchange and Organizational Effectiveness and Professional Development, among other work. Prior to NCG, Angela worked as Program Associate in both the Family and Community Development and Conflict Resolution programs at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and previously served with the policy-advocacy group Urban Strategies Council. Angela received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears!), and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Mills College, a private women’s liberal arts college in Oakland, CA.  She is a film enthusiast and is very connected to the film community in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to Chicken & Egg Pictures, Angela serves on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Video Coalition.

Roswitha Mueller-AgarwalNew Member

Roswitha has over 25 years of financial analysis and investment management experience. From 1999 to 2003, she sat on the Board of Directors of Research Partners International, an investment and brokerage firm specializing in funds management, private placements, and financial advisory work, particularly in the emerging growth sector. In November of 2013, she joined the Finance Committee on the Board of Directors of Friends of the Highline. Roswitha holds an MA from the University of Basel in Switzerland, as well as an MBA from Dartmouth College. She is fluent in German, French, Spanish, and English.  

Dawn PorterNew Member

Dawn is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer. She founded Trilogy Films in 2007 and made her feature documentary directorial debut with Gideon’s Army, which premiered and won the Best Editing Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Dawn was selected for the prestigious Tribeca All Access program, where she won the 2011 juried Creative Promise Award for Gideon’s Army. She also produced and directed Spies of Mississippi, which aired on Independent Lens in February 2014, and was named one of 2012’s Doc Hot Shots’ 15 Emerging Directors to Watch by Realscreen magazine and one of The Independent’s 10 Doc Filmmakers to Watch. Before becoming a filmmaker, Dawn was the Director of News Standards and Practices at ABC News, and Vice President of Standards and Practices at A&E Networks. Dawn is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Amy Richards

Amy is the president of Soapbox: Speakers Who Speak Out and the director of educational outreach for MAKERS: Women Who Make America. Amy is also a writer, best known for her books on contemporary feminist issues, including Manifesta, Grassroots and Opting In. She is the creator of Ask Amy, an online advice column, and a founder of the Third Wave Foundation. Amy has appeared in a range of media venues, including Charlie Rose and Oprah, and was a consulting producer on the HBO documentary Gloria Steinem: In Her Own Words. In addition to Chicken & Egg Pictures, she serves on the Boards of Directors and Advisory Committees of the Sadie Nash Leadership Program,, Ms. Magazine, and Fair Girls. 

Alexandra ShivaNew Member

Alexandra is an award-winning filmmaker and founder of the Manhattan-based documentary production company Gidalya Pictures. She produced and directed the feature documentaries Bombay Eunuch (2001) and Stagedoor (2006), and is at work on a feature documentary about teenagers and adults on the autism spectrum, slated for completion in 2014. Alexandra has served on the Board of the Public Theater since 1997, and is currently a member of the Executive Committee. She serves on the Board of Directors of Turnaround For Children, a non-profit education reform organization, and is the President of the Susan Stein Shiva Foundation. Alexandra holds a BA from Vassar College.


Chicken & Egg Pictures also has an advisory group of Eggsperts comprised of, visionary, and creative people. Eggsperts include: Joslyn Barnes, co-founder of Louverture Films; performing arts and film producer Rachel Chanoff; Dr. Heidi Cullen; Cara Mertes, Director of Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative; Alyce Myatt, past Media Arts Director at the National Endowment for the Arts; filmmaker Lourdes Portillo; health and environment foundation leader Marni Rosen; Thuy Tran; and Jacki Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions.

“These Eggsperts play an active and engaged role in helping conceptualize our future course and in promoting our growth, visibility and impact.” said Wolfson.


Chicken & Egg Pictures is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting women nonfiction filmmakers whose diverse voices and dynamic storytelling have the power to catalyze change, at home and around the globe. Founded in 2005, Chicken & Egg Pictures matches strategically timed grants with creative mentorship to help filmmakers at critical phases -- from development and production through distribution and engagement. The organization has offices in Brooklyn and San Francisco.

As the only nonprofit film fund devoted solely to supporting women documentary directors, Chicken & Egg Pictures strives to transform the landscape of nonfiction filmmaking and the world at large by putting funds directly into the hands of women filmmakers, matching money with strategic mentorship and concurrently funding festivals and field-building organizations such as AFI Docs, DOC NYC, Good Pitch, New Orleans International Film Festival, SXSW, True/False, and Working Films.

Films that have received funding and mentorship support from Chicken & Egg Pictures include: Freeheld by Cynthia Wade (Academy Award® winner, Best Documentary Short Subject, 2008) and Saving Face by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge (Academy Award® winner, Best Documentary Short Subject, 2012); The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday, and Kings Point, by Sari Gilman (both Academy Award® nominees); Semper Fi: Always Faithful by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon (Ridenhour Prize, 2012, Emmy 2013 nominee); Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry by Alison Klayman (Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, 2012 and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, 2012); Call Me Kuchu by Katherine Fairfax-Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall (Teddy Award, Berlin Film Festival, 2012); Brooklyn Castle by Katie Dellamaggiore (NAACP Image Awards 2013 nominee); and The Square by Jehane Noujaim (Academy Award® nominee, Best Documentary Feature, 2014) 


Bronwyn Cunningham, External Relations Manager, Chicken & Egg Pictures

(212) 875-0456 ext. 115

Adam J. Segal, The 2050 Group – Publicity

(202) 422-4673