RIFF  TEAM

Geoffrey Morris

Executive Director

Geoffrey is editor-in-chief and publisher of Ridgefield Magazine and five other titles published by TownVibe. He is a veteran of the magazine business—he was executive editor at National Review, a senior editor at Reader’s Digest, and an editor at MBA Jungle. He has written and edited hundreds of articles, book reviews, and editorials and his work has been nominated for two National Magazine Awards. He holds a BA (philosophy) from Hobart College and an MBA from NYU. He lives in Ridgefield with his wife, Martha, and two daughters.

Email: geoffrey@riffct.org

Megan Smith-Harris

Festival Director

Megan’s career encompasses documentary, television, film, theater, and radio both in Canada and the United States. She is the president and co-owner of Pyewackitt Productions, an independent production company with a commitment to create high quality, socially relevant programs with a unique perspective. Megan produced, directed and co-wrote the award-winning documentary, The Buddy System and the critically acclaimed feature doc, Trial by Fire: Lives Re-forged which aired on PBS. She also helmed three long-form documentaries for the Women’s Entertainment Network (Surrogate Stories, Child Brides, and Polygamy.) In addition to her duties as RIFF Festival Director, Megan is also the editor of Wilton Magazine. For the past nine years, she has programmed and moderated the New Perspectives Documentary Series in Wilton, CT, where she lives with her husband and business partner, Bill Harris and their son Jack.

Email: megan@riffct.org

Bill Harris

General Manager

Bill is Executive Producer and co-owner of Pyewackitt Productions. A television programming executive with 30+ years of broadcast and cable experience, Bill has worked with ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, and spent 16 years as head of production for the A&E Television Networks (A&E, History, Lifetime, and Biography channels). Bill joined A&E in 1994 overseeing Documentary Programming, including the development, launch and unprecedented success of the Emmy Award-winning BIOGRAPHY® series. A multiple Emmy, Telly, Ace, Cine and Vision Award winner, Bill has been inducted into the National Association of Minorities in Cable (NAMIC) Hall of Fame and was named a Cable Maverick by the Cable Center in 2008. More recently, Bill was executive producer of The Buddy System, and on two Oscar® qualifying documentaries, including Digital Dharma and Trial By Fire: Lives Reforged.

Email: bill@riffct.org

Marlea Willis

Director of Public Relations

Marlea is a Public Relations and Communications professional with a solid background and success leading high-profile cutting edge media campaigns within the entertainment industry. Recently, Marlea was the Festival Public Relations Manager for the Tribeca Film Festival and has overseen publicity for films featured at the Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, USA Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and the Brussels Film Festival. Marlea has also worked for U.S. television networks PBS, EPIX, AMC, A+E and the global networks Sundance Channel International and WEtv International. Throughout her career, her communications expertise generated coverage that positively supported and impacted each project, and was integral in securing Emmy®, Golden Globe and BAFTA award wins.  Marlea is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts New York (BAFTA New York), the Academy of Television Arts and Science, (ATAS), the NAACP and Rotary International. She resides in Pawling, NY with three Black Labs.

Email: marlea@RIFFct.org

Ellen Lewis

Senior RIFF Programmer

While working in New York in the luxury shoe industry and traveling the world both for work and pleasure, Ellen Lewis cultivated a deep passion for the arts. She is an avid theatergoer, ceaseless reader, a museum habitué, and an ardent film lover. Ellen possesses an innate understanding of story and conflict and her background as a competitive ice-skater gives her a keen appreciation for how much hard work goes into making art look effortless. Ellen's global perspective combined with her incisive and thoughtful critiques make her a perfect RIFF programmer.

Mary Awad

Director of Digital Operations

After graduating from ​Sacred Heart University in 2016, Mary dove head first into the world of digital marketing, journalism and content creation. She has written for Wilton Magazine, Fordham University NewsRoom, the Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot Newspaper, and Z Publishing House's Emerging Writers of Connecticut anthology. As a freelance digital creator, she has created websites, assisted in marketing campaigns, and made videos for many local organizations such as The Pilates Advantage in Wilton, The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk, and the Connecticut Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. She is also a part of the Westport Community Band and Norwalk Gamer Symphony Orchestra. 

Barbara Scaros

Volunteer Coordinator

Barbara Scaros is a life-long educator and teacher. Most recently she was the Director of the Edith Winthrop Teacher Center of Westchester, a New York State funded staff development organization where she was responsible for designing programs for eight school districts in Southern Westchester.

 

In her capacity as Director, Barbara created, coordinated and developed programs for teachers and administrators in all subject areas including team-building and mentoring. She has always felt that teachers inherently know the skills they need in order grow professionally and she created an atmosphere where they were encouraged to challenge and expand their talents. Currently, she is a consultant in schools, particularly in the area of mentoring new teachers.

 

Barbara is an unabashed film lover and is thrilled to bring her skills to the RIFF team. In addition, she is a die-hard Bruce Springsteen fan and has been to over 30 concerts.

Jennie Carr

Volunteer Coordinator

Jennie spends her days painting, taking photographs, doing yoga and daydreaming. Happiest at the beach, but perfectly content residing in lovely Ridgefield, CT with her hilarious boys and highly entertaining dog. Jennie was generous enough to donate her artful photograph "Shoelace" to be used as the RIFF 2019 Filmmaker Award and will be taking photographs throughout the festival. Always searching for and finding the beauty and the funny in every situation. Jennie can often be found in the back row of the movie theater with a bucket of popcorn.
 

Julia Bruce

Program Guide Coordinator

Julia Bruce has been writing for Ridgefield Magazine for several years and recently started contributing to Wilton Magazine as well. This is Julia's second year as Program Guide Coordinator for RIFF. She is a longtime volunteer both for ROAR Animal Shelter and more recently, for Pets for Vets. 

Kellyn Doerr

Assistant Programmer

 Kellyn Doerr is in her sophomore year of college at The University of Vermont. She skis, sails, and likes to hang out with her two German German Shepherds. Kellyn assisted RIFF in numerous ways including programming, social media, and filmmaker relations. She is passionate about writing and film and hopes to have a career writing for television (Hello SNL!) and write screenplays. 

Dylan Lewis

Assistant Programmer

Dylan Lewis is a senior at Quinnipiac University where he is majoring in Media Studies. His interests include film, music, sports, and video games. Lewis was instrumental in researching and developing ideas for the Virtual Reality Showcase. “Working with RIFF on this emerging entertainment technology was an informative and rewarding experience.”

Allison Ganey

RIFF Coordinator

Allison Ganey graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2018 with a degree in English Literature. She recently moved to Ridgefield after living in Florida for her entire life. As an avid book and film lover, Allison jumped at the opportunity to assist with this year's Ridgefield Independent Film Festival. She has been working closely with the festival's director, Megan Smith-Harris, behind the scenes to make this the best year yet.

Gillian Rooney

Assistant Programmer

Gillian is a sophomore at Tufts University. She is currently a writer for Gold Comedy, a producer for the It's A Hustle podcast, and works for JUV consulting. Gillian watched and evaluated a wide array of films, and took a special interest in the environmental films, animation, and children's programming. She championed a number of documentaries that ultimately made it into the festival. "I'm incredibly passionate about films," says Rooney, "and I'm very excited to be a part of the RIFF team!"

Logan Rosenfeld

Assistant Programmer

Logan Rosenfeld's interests revolve around reading, writing, soccer, family, film, and television. He is currently on track for a degree in Creative Writing from New York University. Logan watched a wide variety of films for the festival, and curated the many films from Mexico. He also was one of our script readers, representing the next generation. The Fairfield, Connecticut resident chose to intern at RIFF because, "it's a fantastic opportunity to work at one of the highest rated Film Festivals in America."

RIFF  CREATIVE ADVISORY BOARD

Jeffery Albanesi

Jeffery Albanesi was born and raised in Ridgefield where he attended public school. Graduated from Emerson College with a major in advertising and public relations and a minor in performing arts. After 20 years of metropolitan life in Manhattan, he returned to bucolic Ridgefield in 2009 where he still resides. He is an account executive for Argento Vivo Sterling Silver in New York City. His greatest interest is the local arts scene and he has become a well-known attendee to events in Ridgefield and its surrounding towns. He is very active in social media and creates excitement for art shows and performances he attends. Jeffery is a long standing Chekhov Festival supporter and brings his networking, enthusiasm and devotion to our board.​​ 

Lisa Clair

Marketing and PR Advisor

Lisa has more than 30 years of experience in Public Relations, Corporate Communications, and Community Outreach Programs.  A principal in ClairStone Communications, LLC since 1988, she has created and executed dozens of dynamic communications strategies for Fortune 500 companies, emerging businesses, and non-profit organizations.  Lisa manages social media platforms and writes for periodicals, blogs, and clients on subjects from antiques and annual reports to zinnias and zoos. A longtime resident of Fairfield, she enjoys the charms and challenges of things that grow, including homes, gardens, animals, and developing businesses. 

Joanne Hudson

Founder / Past Festival Director

Joanne is a playwright, screenwriter, and director whose plays have been produced throughout the U.S., most often in New York City. As a Fulbright Scholar in creative writing, she traveled to Iceland to write a play about a scientist who loses her ethics and finds her humanity, “unbidden,” now included in the literature of the Westmann Islands. While there, she was commissioned by the library to write a children’s play on the 1627 Algerian pirate raid on Iceland, “The Absolutely, Positively True Tale of Floki & Loki.” Joanne’s plays have been commissioned, developed and produced by Huntington Theatre Co., Boston Playwrights Theatre, HERE Arts Center, The Collective Unconscious, Z-Space, Thrown Stone, East River Commedia, SIPA (School of International Public Affairs at Columbia University), Keeler Tavern Museum, Iceland Fulbright, Vestmannaeyjar Iceland Library and others. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts where she was the recipient of the Brander Matthews Theatre Scholarship. She is the founder of the Ridgefield Independent Film Festival (RIFF) and served as festival director in 2016 and an advisor in 2017. 

Emily Keating

RIFF Educational Advisor

Emily is Director of Development and Education at the Kunhardt Film Foundation, a not-for-profit educational media company that produces documentary films, interviews, and teaching tools about the people and ideas that shape our world. KFF was established by a family of filmmakers with a mission to put high quality educational programs into the hands of the public and into schools. Prior to her role at KFF, Emily was Director of Eduction at the Jacob Burns Film Center. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature and a focus in film studies and received a master’s degree in education, communication, and technology from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. She lives in Ridgefield, CT with her husband and 12 year-old twins.

Shannon Lewis

Shannon Lewis was born and raised in New York City where she cultivated her love of theater, film and television. She spent countless hours forcing her younger brothers and friends to be in her short films, music videos, and fake advertisements for made-up products. After graduating from the University of Michigan she beelined it back to Gotham to begin her career in production and advertising. Shannon has spent the last eight years with animation and documentary powerhouse Passion Pictures, where as executive producer she is responsible for all United States based development and client relations. 

Virtual Reality Consultant & Advisor

Robin Phillips

Event, Promotion & Community Engagement

Robin is the editor of Fairfield Magazine and the organizer of the popular culinary events Taste of Fairfield, WinterFest, and Savor Local. She has over 25 years of publishing experience, on both the editorial and business/promotional sides of books and magazines. Before settling in Connecticut and joining Fairfield Magazine and Townvibe, she worked in New York City with Condé Nast Publications, on such titles as House & Garden, Condé Nast Traveler, and Bon Appétit, and at Meredith Corporation, with Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal. She is a graduate of Smith College and lives in Fairfield with her husband, two teenagers, and two miniature dachshunds.

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© 2018 by Ridgefield Independent Film Festival. Made with WIX by Mary Awad.