We are now seeking judges to help us select the winning films. Do you have expertise/interest in directing, writing, editing, acting, journalism, public service announcements, video production, suicide prevention, and/or mental health? Contact us about becoming a judge today! The entire process takes less than 2 hours of your time, all of which can be done online from home. Please note that you cannot participate as a judge if you are submitting a film or associated in any way with a film team that is submitting a team (e.g., teacher, adult advisor, family member).
Submit an application to become a judge today!
A big thank you to our 2022 Judges
A big thank you to our statewide, regional, and specialty category judges
2022 Statewide Judges
2022 Through the Lens of Culture Judges
2022 Hope & Justice Judges
2022 Animated Short Judge
2022 Walk in Our Shoes Judges
2022 Regional Judges
2022 Statewide Judges
Angela Padilla is a passionate advocate for ensuring every family has access to mental health information, education and treatment as well as financial wellbeing. Angela’s commitment and her passion for mental health awareness comes from personal experience of supporting her mother as she lives with Bipolar. As a result, Angela became an advocate for her mother, seeking mental health information from a young age which motivated her to earn a degree in Psychology. She learned that even in the age of the internet, accurate and reliable mental health information can be difficult to find.
Angela Cohen is an established producer with films sold to MGM Orion & Shorts TV. She was handpicked by Google to direct the thriller “Abduction” via Jumpstart VR and qualified for the Oscars with her short, “Without Grace” which she also wrote and starred in. Angela founded Charley Bear Productions with a vision to affect change through cinema, telling unique and diverse stories through the female lens.
Bradley Buecker is executive producer of Fox’s new hit show “9-1-1”. He is also director and producer of the Golden Globe nominated show “Glee” and has worked on numerous other projects including “The New Normal”. In 2015, Mr. Buecker received the award for “Program Supporter and Student Mentor of Directing Change” for his long time support of the Directing Change Program.
Caitlin Brands is a television industry professional. She has worked in television as an Assistant Production Coordinator for over 6 years. She has worked with Netflix, FOX, Hulu, TNT, CBS, and TBS on various shows. She has recently worked for VFX in films, and worked as a Writers Production Assistant on a Netflix and Nickelodeon show. Her personal written work has placed in semi finals in various competitions.
Cary McQueen, MAM is the Executive Director of Art With Impact, a nonprofit organization that uses art and community dialogue to support mental wellness for young people and their advocates throughout the United States and Canada.
Celeste Lecense (he/they) wrote the short film Trevor which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short and he is co-founder of The Trevor Project, the only nationwide Lifeline for LGBTQ youth. He has written three novels for young adults, and created The Letter Q, a collection of letters by queer writers written to their younger selves. An actor as well as a writer, Celeste is best known for his award-winning solo shows including The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey for which the NYTimes ranked him “among the most talented solo performers of his (or any) generation.” He is also the co-founder of The Future Perfect, a national arts initiative for LGBTQ+ youth. www.thefutureperfectproject.com
Chantelle James: Co-owner of production company Kid Sister Collective, Chantelle James is an award-winning actor/writer/producer who works in film & TV.
Corinne Bourdeau is the founder and President of 360 Degree Communications, a leading boutique agency dedicated to promoting and producing social change films.
David Ridgway has worked in the film industry since 1973 in various roles including producer, director and editor. David is the Director and Editor for the TV show “The Real Deal with Barb Marshall”. He has worked on numerous projects over the years including music videos, television shows as well as films and documentaries including “Lord of the Rings”, “Annabel Lee” and “The Musician” which have won various awards. David is on the Board of Directors for the Capital Film Arts Alliance, with over 4000 members in Northern California. He also produced two feature films due out this year, Full Circle: The Story of New Dimensions (a documentary) and Stevie and Sandi Save the Rainbow Forest (a children’s film).
Deven McNair is a professional stunt performer and actress who is known for her work on films such as 22 Jump Street, The Green Lantern, Disaster Movie, Planet of the Apes, and the Disney Channel show, JESSIE.
Don Collins has been teaching high school math, English, Financial Literacy and student support programs for 25 years in San Diego. He is an Air Force Desert Storm combat veteran with the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing. Don has sat on the Directing Change Board of Directors since 2017. Don and his husband Anthony enjoy raising their twin four-year-old boys.
Eileen Zeller, MPH, is chair of the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention, serves on the board of the Mental Health Association of Maryland, and loves her semi-retirement! After a career in public health and suicide prevention, Eileen retired from the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2018, where she was Lead Public Health Advisor in the Suicide Prevention Branch. She provided national leadership in a variety of areas, including ensuring that SAMHSA’s suicide prevention efforts were integrated with those of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and serving on multiple advisory, policy, and implementation committees and workgroups.
Elle Alexander is the Vice President of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures, as well as a member of Women in Film and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences.
James Jones Ph.D. is a psychologist with LA Mayor Garcetti’s Crisis Response Team and the Services to the Armed Forces program for the American Red Cross. His background includes acting in a variety of Shakespeare festivals, 8 years as the Lead Ringmaster for the annual Napa Valley Film Festival, and a judge for many of Ohlone College’s High School Theater & Music Festivals.
Jen Greenstreet is the founder, filmmaker and CEO of the women run Mid-American Emmy award-winning film production company Just Like You Films. Prosecutor turned movie producer, Jen is working to create a kinder world through the power of media one film at a time.
Jen James is the Community Success Digital Specialist and Founding Supervisor at Crisis Text Line. She’s held many prominent roles, including helping to create the remote volunteer program & training. Jen runs the important social community network for the volunteers. A place for everyone to engage, learn, and have fun. She is also a Founding Board member of NoOK App™ and the Virtual counselor for Children Youth First, in Nepal.
Kathy Lindboe is the co-founder and CEO of Battlecry Productions, a female-led and female-driven horror film company. She is also a film, stage and commercial writer/director/producer and works with several L.A.-based non-profit organizations to help support important community issues by directing and producing social impact videos and live events to raise money and awareness.
Katie Rotolo has 10+ years in the entertainment industry and is the co-founder of the boutique production company Paper Ball Pictures, whose mission is putting the environment first while telling impactful stories. She is also the founder and yoga teacher of Set Intentions, a first-of-its-kind, mobile wellness business focused on sustainability and mindfulness.
Kiki Goshay is the producer/director of the film Not Alone, which uses intimate teen-to-teen conversations, to engage the audience about depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, getting help and treating mental illness. Film is a great tool for youth to bring issues they care about to a broad audience, and Kiki’s mission has been to give kids a voice.
Kim Kline is an award winning singer-songwriter, philanthropist, entrepreneur and fashionista. Best known for her single “Inside” which aired on MTV’s show The Hill’s. Her current single “Stand Tall” is a bullying prevention anthem from her up and coming sophomore album. The release of her music video “Stand Tall” which gives a universal message of hope, strength and human connectedness will debut later this year.
Laura Carson is an actress, producer and writer with over 30 years of experience in the creative arts. Her credits range from the stage to film and TV. For several summers she has taught kids filmmaking at Idyllwild Arts. Most recently, she co-founded Firefly Rev Productions and is in development on several features.
Lia Bruce worked for a Hollywood film producer as a creative executive and was the marketer of The Nonprofit Institute (NPI) at the University of San Diego. She now is getting her Masters of Science in Marketing at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
Linda Bergonzi-King, MPH, is a Producer/Director/Health Communication Expert and Social Entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience creating a wide range of video programs, educational tools and communications with a particular emphasis on health, well-being, social justice, edutainment, and community development. She also teaches high school and undergraduate courses on multiple topics related to health communication, interpersonal communication & media relations/literacy. Linda graduated from the Yale University School of Public Health with an emphasis on Health Communication and Health Policy.
Marie Gallo Dyak; Emmy® Award winning producer; Produce webcasts on all facets of substance use disorders, mental health and related health issues such as concussion, trauma, diabetes, HIV, and Hepatitis C; and Co-Creator and Executive Producer, EIC’s Annual PRISM Awards Ceremony and TV Special.
Melissa Margain is a US Army Disabled Combat Veteran who currently lives in Contra Costa County where she is a Case Manager working with the Re-Entry population in an effort to reduce the rate of recidivism.
Michael Gilvary is a writer and executive producer on the NBC drama, Chicago Fire.
Monica Nepomuceno works at the California Department of Education as an Education Programs Consultant overseeing the Mental Health Services Program. Monica is passionate about helping all school staff, including certificated and classified personnel, parents, and community members increase their knowledge and awareness of student mental health and wellness; and providing school staff with skills and resources to help students in timely, respectful, and culturally appropriate manner.
Nagin Cox is a spacecraft operations engineer currently working as a tactical mission lead for the Mars Curiosity Rover and the Mars Perseverance Rover.
Natalie Rodriguez is an award-winning filmmaker and author in Southern, CA, and her projects have been featured, both, in the U.S. and internationally. In her downtime, she enjoys listening to podcasts (especially true crime), reading, taking long walks, and hanging out with her fur baby named Matty Cat.
Pepper Carlson, C.Ht. is an Emmy award nominee and 2 time gold Telly award wining Producer with a specialty in short-form live-action production and development. Carlson is also a published author and her writing antics on her blog Life with One Eye Open won her an invitation to speak at Pepperdine University.
Pixie Monroe enjoys mentoring America’s Youth and California’s passionate Young Filmmakers who are eager to make a difference in their communities through accurate messaging in film, television and social media.
Ruben Preuss is a producer/ director with 25 years of experience in film production. For the last 9 years Ruben is a licensed psychotherapist working at Kaiser Permanente Behavioral Health.
Sally Spencer-Thomas: As a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, survivor of her brother’s suicide and a person who has lived through depression, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas sees the issues of mental health promotion and suicide prevention through multiple lenses. Today she uses her professional speaking platform to “elevate the conversation” and make resilience, healing and suicide prevention health and safety priorities in our schools, workplaces and communities. www.SallySpencerThomas.com
Sarah Naiman: With attention for detail in visual storytelling, Sarah Naiman has been editing passionately and professionally for over ten years. She has assisted series for the CW, Discovery Channel, MTV, Netflix, HBO Max, and Youtube Originals as well as edited music videos featuring influential artists. Sarah’s career crosses platforms from development to the final edit. She specializes in documentary style storytelling fueled by her love of film, television, and music.
Shannon Jaccard, MBA: Mental health advocate and consultant. Author of “The Forgotten Survivors; a sister’s journey through her brother’s mental illness.
Tom Kline is an Executive at NBC Universal and has many years of experience working in the Entertainment Industry.
Trent Duncan is an award winning independent filmmaker, Film Festival Director, and YouTuber. Trent has created a variety of narrative short and feature films in many genres that have entertained audiences around the world. He is most notably known for his YouTube channel featuring Epic Horror Battles.
Trish Glowacki is Executive Director of the glowmedia project, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that produces unique, free of charge, educational films addressing mental wellness and behavior health issues facing teens today. The short films, and corresponding educational guides for Students, Parents/Guardians, and Educators represent a new approach towards educating students about mental illness, addiction, and other stigmatized issues.
2022 Through the Lens of Culture Judges
Andrea Schulz is a retired social worker, family member and peer with lived experience and her BFA in film & video production.
Ann Truong-Ong Ta is a mental health clinician who considers art as a strong tool for healing and considers herself as a fellow creative. Ann is passionate about culture and mental health and has been working in mental health for years. She is an advocate for equality and fighting mental health stigma.
Anna Allard is a Senior Business Analyst at California Mental Health Services Authority, with a background in managing local, state, and federally funded programs that support improving public mental health, identifying and addressing social determinants of health, and bettering the lives of underserved and underrepresented communities, including youth and TAY-age groups.
Carlos Lamadrid: As the Outreach & Engagement Coordinator within our Mental Health Services Act Team, I have experience working within our diverse ethnic and cultural communities for a number of years and been a judge with the Directing Change contest for about 5 years. It is an honor to see the talent and youth perspectives on social and mental health issues.
Jeff Sabean is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has been working in the behavioral health field for over 30 years. He is the current Administrator for the Stanislaus Recovery Center and is the Manger of Stanislaus County’s Substance Use Disorders (SUD) System of Care. Prior to managing the SUD services for Stanislaus County, he oversaw the youth substance abuse services and Juvenile Justice programs and has worked in various divisions within Stanislaus County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Children’s System of Care.
Jenn Guhl is a MHSA Program Specialist for the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health (TCBH) Department. Jenn oversees the Tuolumne County Enrichment Center, a wellness and recovery center for the local homeless population and mentally ill, represents the county during special events, community meetings, and does outreach for the center, as well as leads the May is Mental Health Awareness month activities in Tuolumne County.
Joanna Prabhu: I have a journalism degree from San Jose State, from which I graduated in 2020. I shot a short film documentary there as well about unemployment during the pandemic. I also have been involved in the mental health community since high school, co-funding an alumni organization and speaking at teen wellness conferences just as an example. At NAMI, the organization I volunteer at, they show videos about suicide prevention and mental health, and these videos come from organization and contests like this. I would be honored to choose winning films that can be passed down to organizations like NAMI to show hundreds of students a year.
John Thompson: John is a licensed clinical social worker who currently provides mental health services to young people at a school-based health center in San Francisco. He is also a DIY documentary filmmaker and activist who firmly believes in the power of art to inspire social change.
María Elizalde has been working as a clinician with Merced County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services for 9 years. She has worked with children and youth for 8 years. Her passion is to help patients process and resolve their traumas and promote mental health services.
Michelle Fortunado-Kewin, LCSW, PPS is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Jefferson Union High School District and a doctoral candidate at the University at Buffalo. She has done work in the field of suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention since 2012. One of her passion projects is focused on improving the services and supports for Filipinx
Michelle E. Carlson is a returning judge for Directing Change. “Getting to make this connection with youth all over California is a highlight of my year!” Reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health challenges, continues.
Ola Jimoh: I am currently supporting youth mental health community investments and partnerships as a part of Blue Shield’s BlueSky initiative. I believe youth hold much power around the state of the world and we have much to learn from them. I would love to be a judge to further support Directing Change and witness the beauty of combining arts and advocacy.
Pamela Morris is a Professor of Applied Psychology at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and an Affiliated Professor at the NYU School of Global Public Health. An interdisciplinary scholar, Morris conducts research at the intersection of developmental psychology, suicidology, education, and policy.
Rachel Abenavoli is a Research Assistant Professor at NYU whose work focuses on social-emotional development, school-based interventions, and more recently, suicide prevention. She has been working with the Directing Change team for a little over a year to evaluate the program.
Ray Santillan: Ray Santillan is the Cultural Responsiveness Staff Development lead for the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health. Ray coordinates monthly cultural responsiveness trainings, was part of the planning committee for the Asian & Pacific Islander Mental Health Empowerment conference 2019, as well as sits as a member of the Cultural Competency Committee of Fresno County.
Ron Shaw: My 5th year serving as a Judge. Each year it is amazing to review entries that demonstrate creativity & quality content through a variety of social media platforms. I am proud to see & hear — California’s diversity of young people, sharing vibrant prevention messages throughout their cultural homes and school communities.
Ruth Cañas, LCSW has worked in the field of mental health for the past 25 years. She is the exective director of The Child and Family Development Center, a community mental health clinic in Santa Monica serving the children and families of historically underrepresented and economically disenfranchised communities.
Sheri Hanni has worked at the Butte County Office of Education for over 25 years partnering with LEA’s throughout the County to support mental health, attendance, and engagement for all; believing that student voice is one of our most valuable resources.
Sylvia Tang, MPP (She/Her/她): Committed to advancing health equity, Sylvia focuses on building coalitions that cultivate self love, community empowerment and social justice. She is a Community Health Planner at the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity. She co-chairs the Suicide Prevention Committee and Mental Health Month Planning Committees. https://www.smchealth.org/bhrs/ode
Tanya Mercado: I am honored to continue my support in empowering students, school communities, and families for over 20 years within public education to create a positive school climate where mental health wellness becomes part of the school culture alongside physical and nutritional wellness.
Tranh Pham: Tranh Pham (she/they) is a Graduate Student and Laurie McBride Scholar in the Counseling Program at California State University at Sacramento where they continue to educate, empower, and advocate for LGBTQ+ students and their campus community through a globally unprecedented and historic period. Tranh is excited about helping young people redefine mental health and wellness for themselves and their world.
Yurun Wu is a multicultural influenced film composer and orchestrator based in LA. His credits can be found on top Chinese box office hits like Detective Chinatown 3 (2021), Crazy Alien (2019). He is one of the main creative crew of many award-winning short films and documentaries, such as Way Out (2020) XINYAN: ONE CHILD LEFT BEHIND (2019), She Comes in Colors Everywhere (2018). Yurun is also frequently commissioned to create and produce commercial music and songs for companies like BMW, KFC, Red Bull, Tencent, etc.
2022 Animated Short Judges
Alaina Jones is an Executive Assistant for the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) with an educational background in Creative Writing and Media Studies. Alaina appreciates the therapeutic and educational power that art has in spreading mental health awareness.
Ana Marie Duarte: I am a firm believer that the educational system should provide resources to assist students in coping with their mental health.
Cindy Hicks: I have worked in the Prevention Field Since 1992 and coordinate prevention efforts and in service education on social emotional learning, Alcohol, Tobacco and other drug prevention/intervention, Vaping, Mental health issues, recognizing signs and symptoms of Suicide ideation and support for all students in PUSD schools.
Erin Bryan: I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and part of the Tulare County Suicide Prevention Task Force. I am a sounding board for our youth who have so much to express and look forward to doing this through the Directing Change Program and Film Contest.
Geovanni Cajucom is a Registered Nurse from Blue Shield of California and is very interested in watching and learning from creatively done short films.
Jenna Lane: Before joining Blue Shield of California Foundation to help achieve health equity and end domestic violence in California, Jenna Lane specialized in behavioral health communications at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. She has about 20 years of experience as a professional journalist, mostly in radio.
Laith Higazin is the CSSA community service chair at The Chicago School. He has been a 3-dimensional artist for most of his life, submitting several pieces into contests, and teaching high school 3-dimensional art as a volunteer.
Lawrence Weisberg: Former Production Manager/Supervisor for Feature Animation projects including “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Bee Movie” at DreamWorks and “Wish Dragon” for Base FX/Sony, with over 20 years of entertainment experience.
Les Forster: I am a former high school administrator and have volunteered for many years for both Bring Change 2 Mind and NAMI, currently helping present Ending the Silence to school staff presentations. My former school site had the first BC2M club in Santa Cruz County and we are working toward establishing NAMI on Campus clubs beginning in the fall.
Mario Montesino: I have been a professional educator for 9 years in the areas of mental health, school psychology, behavioral supports, and family engagement. My goal is for student mental health and well-being to be treated with as high a priority as their academic needs.
Monica Nepomuceno: I have been a judge for over 6 years and am a statewide advocate for mental health.
Natalie Saragosa-Harris is a PhD student at UCLA researching brain development and mental health in adolescents.
Rebecca Johnson: Rebecca works in non-profit mental health field in Northern California.
Soledad Gonzalezsevilla: Suicide is a vital component that is experienced at a young age and this matter needs to be introduced and discussed in order to prevent and normalize to youth and every human being so they may be more knowledgeable of the signs and know that they do not have to feel alone through the hurt. We are here to help!
Tom Norton: Not so long ago a short film gave me the hope and motivation needed to pull my life together and realize that I’m not alone.
Troy Underwood is a content executive and producer who spent the last 10 years as a Current Series Exec at Disney Television Animation overseeing, among others, Emmy-nominated Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance, Emmy-winning TRON: Uprising, as well as Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, Big City Greens, & T.O.T.S. and he is also a Governor in Television Academy for the Children’s Programming Peer Group.
Whitney Wilson, a Patient Rights Advocate in San Diego County, is excited to be a returning judge this year.
2022 Hope & Justice Judges
Amber Bundy-Davis is the Senior Manager of Talent Program and Pathway Design at Blue Shield of California. As a former Theater major, Amber appreciates how art tells stories that we may not be able to communicate in other ways. Being in healthcare now, she would like to support young artist in the efforts to tell their stories while bridging conversations that heal the world through art.
Ann-Marie Fullmore: I have been active in the performing arts my whole life, both on stage and off, behind and in front of the camera. I have a master’s degree in Counseling (Psychology) and am passionate about helping our youth!
Courtney Kimbrough: As a child & teenager my cousin & I would make our own music videos, commercials, & skits. We would host premier nights for our parents & siblings.
Divya Narayanswamy: Youth is the foundation of upcoming generation. Hearing them and helping them in anyway is exciting.
Haley Mixon: I love watching films, movies, shows, and art installations of all kinds. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the world around us through different perspectives. It keeps us informed, and hopefully, in turn, keeps us united. We need more compassion towards one another. I am grateful to partake in this opportunity, and looking forward to learning from the experience.
Kelly Leahy McKeown, M.A., LMFT, PPSC is the Director of Student Services, Counseling and Wellness at Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Mountain View, and is passionate about supporting and teaching adolescents as they navigate their journey to adulthood.
Kelly Seymour – I work for a healthcare insurer and we are continually educated on the importance of mental health wellness. I have family members and friends who suffer from mental illness and thus this awareness and ways to help others is extremely important to me not only professionally, but personally. In addition, I have volunteered for several organizations committed to the health and well-being of children including being a board member and board president for Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as being a CASA for over 3 years for four foster youth. I have personally observed the impact that life stressors can have on youth emotional wellness and believe that programs such as those from Directing Change can make a huge impact. I feel honored to be a judge for these powerful films and look forward to participating well into the future.
Linda Kelson: I am an artist specializing in oil painting, and have tried to use my art to address social and environmental issues all my life.
Lisa Schoyer has a Masters in Fine Art from California Institute of the Arts, and taught studio art for 10 years before going to work for Los Angeles County, starting in the Department of Public Health (Children’s Medical Services) for 6 years, and for the Department of Mental Health since 2009. She answered the call for jurors for this contest last year.
Lissa Thomson: I have been a judge for the past few years. I look forward to watching and judging the videos every year. Your instructions are wonderful and the videos themselves inspire me to get closer to both the issues and the opportunities.
Matthew Jones: I studied film at CSUS and graduated with a film degree.
Rosa Perez: I am both a recipient and provider of mental health services. I wish to continue doing my part to improve our communities’ mental health and share the message that ‘Tomorrow Needs You’.
Samantha Olson: I am excited to work alongside youth for the past 18 years as an advocate, school counselor, mentor and outdoor educator in the K-12 setting. I look forward to numerous more years of bringing hope and healing to schools and individuals.
Teri Vaziri: I have 20 years of Human Resources experience, with 10 of them in Healthcare, and a theatre background. I look forward to the day when mental health issues are no longer stigmatized and when the system can support the demand.
William Subsara: I’m excited to be a part of anything that can help kids. As a former big brother, I really feel complete when I am being a part of someone’s learning and development.
In addition, entries are also reviewed and judged by Directing Change team members Jana Sczersputowski, MPH, Shanti Bond-Martinez, MPH, and Devin Saragosa-Harris, MPH.
2022 Walk in Our Shoes Judges
Alisa Huntington: I’ve judged several times and really enjoy seeing all of the talent!
Amanda Lasik is the BlueSky Program Manager for Blue Shield California.
Anil Prasad: Would like to see the world from todays youth perspective
Bisrat Tekie: I appreciate and value the process and brainpower that goes into an art production of any form in every context. It makes me appreciate fellow humans; it encourages me to stay engaged in the narrative of the human condition to ultimately serve better by them in real life. From an outside spectator point-of-view to the firm industry, the process requires great courage, patience, humility and vulnerability, from creating the story, exporting it to a script, and projecting it onto the screens … not to mention the complex details in between. Talent is talent, and a gift to us. It is not taken for granted.
BJ Rouse is an independent filmmaker in Los Angeles, California and Chief Executive Officer of After School Arts Academy, a non-profit arts enrichment organization.
Brenda Scott is an Executive Director with NAMI Mt San Jacinto and a two-time Suicide Loss Survivor. She is a member of Riverside County Suicide Prevention Postvention Committee.
Brian Bishop has worked with media production for over 20 years and currently works with local media on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder stories, he has been a judge for the Directing Change program for many years and has been an advocate for ending the stigma surrounding Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder.
Briana Ribota: I worked as a Deputy Public Guardian for a few years. Everyone in my case load was diagnosed with a mental health diagnosis. I had the pleasure to have met many bright and kind individuals. I always told my clients taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. They both go hand in hand.
Buffy Bowers-Woods: As a School Social Worker working specifically with suicide prevention, I can’t wait for the day when all young people can openly share their truth about mental illness without shame, fear, stigma, or roadblocks to treatment.
Cathie Sowell: I have been supporting middle school students since 2007 as a history teacher and Mental Health Advocate, helping students get the support they need engage in their community.
Cathy Blackstone: I am an interested citizen in what our future generations are doing. I was a judge last year and very impressed with the creative videos that the kids have created.
Christine Mariano: Ms. Christine Mariano works in Los Angeles, supporting middle school and high school students’ mental health.
David Tijerina: I work in the field of mental health and I know how important this program is especially for young ones in our community.
Desiree Lopez is a Clinical Coordinator for the HERE Now Suicide Prevention program in San Diego County. Desiree has worked with the HERE Now team for the past 2 years to deliver preventative mental health services to K-12 youth in San Diego county.
Evie Kosower: I have worked with learners from young children to physicians as an educator and am especially interested in short films for many years, having been married to a filmmaker who made and collected them.
Felipe Flores: As the Mental Health Program Specialist, I am always interested in ways to support students and help them express themselves.
Geneva Amas: I am a mental health clinician that works with the challenges surrounding suicidality every day. I participate in judging every year as it is my hope to address mental health as inclusive and part of overall wellness in the generations to come.
Heather Rodriguez: As the current lead of our district Mental Health Team, I am extremely passionate about supporting the mental health needs of our students, their families, and our staff, in addition to my experience in the field of theater and public speaking.
Hilda Majewski: I strongly believe in the power of the student voices, the trust in relationships and the commitment in increasing access to mental health supports.
Himabindu Karepey: I love how creators bring life to small life experiences and being a judge I can see how various student creators are striving to bring change.
Ilizana Strads: I am an HR Business Partner for Blue Shield of California and support multiple organizations including our Behavioral Health team and am passionate about the importance of de-stigmatizing mental health and making care accessible to all.
Jami Macleod: BA in Visual Arts: Film emphasis from UCSD, work with youth of all ages and have had my life impacted by suicide.
Jayne Reinhardt: I have been working in the mental health field for many years, collaboratively with Directing Change and other organizations and outreach efforts, and have been a contest judge for several years.
Jennifer Iversen: I have been teaching for three years working with middle school students, and I want to support the destigmatization of mental health issues and open up this conversation with our students.
Jennifer Martin is a teacher candidate in the Stanislaus County. The mental health of our youth is very important to me. I hope to be better equipped to assist my future students.
Jeremiah Aja, M.A., M.Div., LPCC is the Assistant Director for the national nonprofit organization, Wellness Together School Mental Health, the Blue Shield of California BlueSky Liaison, and a Registered Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. He has worked with youth and families since 2001 and now helps to lead a team of therapists across California and beyond partnering with school districts and universities to provide mental health services for students and educators on school campuses.
Jessica Sorensen: Video and TV producer with 12 years of experience, currently working for an advertising and public relations firm in Sacramento specializing in social change.
Juana Zaragoza: Hello! I work for the Migrant Education Office at CDE. Although largely administrative, part of my job is supporting the State Parent Advisory Council – a group composed of 1 migrant parent from each of our 20 subgrantees. Working directly with the parents, and hearing how the pandemic has affected not only their mental health, but that of their students has been eye-opening. As someone who is actively pursuing a teaching credential, I look forward to the prospect of learning more about student mental health needs through their creative process.
Kay Lund: I am a Health Educator in Plumas County at Plumas District Hospital, and was a judge last year.
Klyrisse Dosty: I enjoy and appreciate movies and movie-making and am excited for the opportunity to be able to see what these future filmmakers have in store.
Laira Andrade: Parenthood has opened my eyes in many ways, and I believe that with a solid foundation our children would not have the fear that we are not their haven. Communication is key, and as long we create that safety net and with videos such as these, we can create the safe environment, we as parents want and need.
Marcia Reily Ed. D.: Marcia Reily is a Coordinator II in the Center for Distance and Online Learning (CDOL) unit within the Curriculum and Instructional Services (CIS) Division at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). Marcia coordinates the LA County Suicide Prevention Ongoing Resiliency Training (SPORT) project.
Maria Rodriguez: I’m a school counselor with over 11 years of expertise and seeking to surround myself with experiences which will help me educate others about suicide.
Meredith McLendon teaches video production at James Workman Middle School in Cathedral City, California, is a huge fan of classic cinema, and loves spreading positivity wherever she goes.
Michelle Buckley: I came across this volunteer opportunity through my employer. Suicide is absolutely devastating; I love, and am encouraged by this approach to bringing awareness to our youth.
Nicole Ramirez: I am interested in being a judge for youth art/films projects; as this will help me better understand what successes and challenges young folks in Tehama County are facing.
Ramona Rogers is the Director of Special Education at Rocklin Academy Family of Schools (Placer and Sacramento counties). Ramona has experience as a school psychologist and is the current MTSS Lead for mental health and behavioral supports at Rocklin Academy.
Robert Dutile, Ph.D. serves as the Senior Vice President of Exodus Recovery’s Central Division and has worked with youth since 1996. Having four grown adult children himself, Robert understands the value of advocating for mental health services, as well as empowering the next generation of leaders, and was actively involved in youth little league and soccer.
Ryan Hardie: I’m a lifelong, strong advocate for awareness of relevant & important topics of any nature that contribute to making a positive difference.
Salvador Fernandez: I have written multiple screenplays and am familiar with storylines, 3-act structure, and character development and arc. I am also an avid film buff and I would appreciate the opportunity to support these young filmmakers in their projects and this content.
Sandy Young: I am an Inpatient Psychiatric Case Manager for Kaiser Permanente and want to do everything I can to support youth in speaking up about mental health.
Shana Duran: I work in school as a counselor and feel that suicide awareness is important. Directing Change is making students aware of this.
Shellie Swain: As a lifetime volunteer and high school mentor, participating in mental health awareness with our youth will hopefully build additional channels enabling more education and treatment opportunities. I was a judge last year and loved it