Film at Mason Advisory Board

The Film at Mason Advisory Board includes members of the Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland filmmaking community. Through their professional connections, experience, and enthusiasm for film and passion for student learning, they provide support through:

  • Serving as jurors for Pitch Awards
  • Conducting training seminars with students
  • Supporting student scholarships
  • Supporting Film at Mason fundraising efforts and events
  • Mentoring film graduates
  • Advising faculty on program development
  • Spreading the word about Film at Mason.
Ashley Blue, Ed Wright, and Mikki Van Wyk jury the Pitch Competition of the Mason Film Festival
Clara Kelly, Ashley Blue, Ed Wright, and Mikki Van Wyk jury the Pitch Competition of the Mason Film Festival

Members attend three board meetings a year, jury the Film at Mason Senior Films and Pitch Awards (twice a year), and attend/support Film at Mason fundraising efforts (through contributions, in-kind contributions, and attendance at events). If you're interested in joining the Film at Mason Advisory Board or learning more about the program and ways to contribute or donate, please contact Professor Cynthia Fuchs, Film at Mason Program Director.

Current Advisory Board members:

Theodore A. Adams III

Mr. Theodore A. Adams III is an Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. He is President of Unified Industries Incorporated, an engineering services company that was founded in 1970. He is also Founder and President of Red Zeppelin Productions LLC, a film and entertainment company based in Fairfax, Virginia.

Mr. Adams has a legacy of community service. He is Co-Founder and Chairman of the Stan Lee Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting literacy, arts, and education. He also founded and runs Unified Empowerment Inc., and non-profit organization dedicated to education and to finding employment opportunities for persons with severe disabilities.

Mr. Adams is a two-time Ironman Finisher and received certification as a USAT Certified Triathlon Coach.  When swimming, biking and running aren’t enough Mr. Adams  enjoys martial arts as a Black Belt in Taekwondo, dancing through the clouds as a licensed pilot, or picking up the Didgeridoo to drone the night away. He has studied multiple languages including: German, Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Japanese. Mr. Adams embodies the Renaissance Man.  

Mr. Adams has had an interest in making movies since he was a child. Literally a rocket scientist, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University and his Masters of Business Administration from UCLA. Mr. Adams also completed post graduate studies at the Yale-China Program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and is a graduate of Harvard Business School. 

At no point during his academic career did Mr. Adams consider a career in film, but rather focused on engineering and business.  It was his business acumen that made his dream of movie making a reality.  Othello-san was his Directorial debut.  He won Artist of the Year and Best Director for his work on that film.

Mr. Adams put pen to paper and jotted down a few notes, and started to mold the story that was the genius of the award-winning and best-selling feature film, TRI, and numerous award-winning short films including Othello-san, Sweet Distraction and The Charles Effect.  Mr. Adams is a registered member of the Writers Guild of America East and SAG-AFTRA.

It takes more than creativity to make movies; it takes a strong sense of business and connections that come with it.  Mr. Adams’s engineering company, Unified Industries Inc. (UII), has an outstanding reputation of providing high-quality engineering consultation services and products to government agencies and commercial customers. Dedicated to excellence, UII’s expertise of logistics, engineering, training, information technology, metrology, calibration, and quality assurance has allotted us the opportunity to fulfill over 650 contractual obligations. UII supports some of the most sophisticated weapons platforms for the US and UK Navies.

For his latest venture, Mr Adams is launching his own streaming network called The Laurel Channel. The Laurel Channel will provide a platform dedicated to presenting films that have won awards at vetted film festivals from around the world. Film Festivals, Filmmakers, and Actors will be able to showcase their events and work on a unique channel that allows the viewers to discover more information about the productions and artists with access to behind the scenes footage, interviews, reviews and links to filmmaker and actor show reels.

Jim Folliard

Folliard is the founder and head cinematographer of Gearshift TV. Folliard has been honing his photography and videography skills for more than 20 years. Jim is a Virginia native who has spent his entire life in the area. Jim is very well known in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for his work with local restaurants, athletes, car dealerships, night clubs, and other business owners. It is not uncommon to catch one of Jim's commercials on TV as well as large venues such as the Jumbotron at Fed Ex Field. Jim is married to Shuggie Folliard and they live in Herndon, Virginia, with their three kids Gigi, Jimmy and Fiona.

Aaron Goodmiller

Melissa Houghton

Houghton joined Women in Film & Video (WIFV) as executive director in August 2005. Since then, membership has grown to more than 1,000 media professionals and averages 70 professional development offerings per year along with the Image Makers program for high school students and the Kids World Film Festival for 5th graders. WIFV has added fiscal sponsorship of independent media projects, a web pilot mentoring initiative, management of Women in Film & Television International, and the Carolyn’s First Decade Fund to its portfolio of programs that benefit members. In 2015, WIFV launched a fundraising campaign to establish a Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers. She excels at putting WIFV resources, connections and advocates at the service of WIFV members.

Houghton joined WIFV after a short stint as a non-profit administration consultant with clients in the mid-Atlantic and a 14 year association with the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) where she started as an unpaid intern and left after an 18-month position as interim President. At the AAF, Houghton also managed the national Accent on Architecture initiative, including producing four one-hour PBS format television programs, a chapter grants program promoting public outreach, and coordinating the national awards program. She served in several curatorial and administrative capacities at The Octagon Museum during her time at the AAF. Houghton graduated from Beloit College with a BA in History and from the University of Virginia with a MA in Urban Planning and Certificate in Historic Preservation. Prior to graduate school, Houghton taught high school and served several years as the executive assistant for a prominent tax/estate attorney in Boston. She has served on the boards of the DC Architectural Foundation, DC Film Alliance, and Wide Angle Youth Media. She is currently a member of the WETA Community Council.

Jack Kehoe

Kehoe has had a long and deep interest in film, including getting his MFA in Film from Ohio University in between Army assignments during a 30-year military career. This first career alternated between leading soldiers in deployed field units (e.g., as a battalion commander) and managing Defense organizations providing internal communications (web, broadcast, print) across the military. Random fact: Jack is the only known Army Colonel to have an MFA in Film.

The Army also sent Jack to a fellowship in strategic studies at the Harvard Kennedy School which not only gave him the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon, but also helped lead to his second career as a communications executive/speechwriter for Bank of America (the Harvard bona fides made up for the fact that he had never used an ATM). After 6 years, he became an independent consultant focusing on grants and proposals. His favorite films include North by Northwest and Monsters vs. Aliens.

Clara Kelly

Kelly has been a member of the Film and Video Studies Advisory Board since December 2012. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and Video Production, Minor in Business in May 2012. Kelly worked as chief staff liaison to a board director and regional manager of U.S. operations for a multinational insurance brokerage firm and department manager of its Washington, D.C. branch. She is a frequent juror for student film pitches and senior capstone films and an annual contributor to the Film at Mason scholarship fund and various projects.

Chuck Peña

Peña has more 30 years of ex­peri­ence in the broad­cast and cable televi­sion indus­tries. He is currently the executive director of Fairfax Public Access (FPA), a nonprofit media center with a $3 miillion budget that provides training in television and radio production and operates a network of four cable television channels. This FPA cable network is carried over Verizon FiOS TV throughout northern Virginia; over Cox Communications in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, Virginia; and over Comcast Cable in Reston, Virginia. The FPA production studios include three television studios, two radio studios and advanced post-production editing facilities.

Peña’s experience includes television industry work for International Media Service News, C-SPAN, Montgomery Community Television, the American Red Cross National Television Center and the Verizon (formerly Bell Atlantic) Corporate Video Center. He served as Executive Consultant for the Whitehouse Chronicle public television series, produced in cooperation with WHUT, Howard University Television. Additionally, Mr. Peña has served as consultant for the National Division of Time Warner Cable. Further, he has considerable teaching experience, having taught numerous classes in studio television production and producers’ workshops.

Peña has been a session speaker at conferences of television media professional associations, such as the National Academy of Cable Programming and the Alliance for Community Media Mid-Atalantic Region. He has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fairfax County, Virginia; the Board of Directors of Montgomery Community Media; and the Alliance for Community Media’s Mid-Atlantic Region Board of Directors.

He has served in a political leadership role in supporting public access media on both the federal and State levels. Peña’s activities in this area include giving testimony before the Virginia General Assembly and meeting with the staffs of U.S. Senators and Representatives from across the nation to lobby in the best interests of community television. Further, he has written a number of FCC filings, to protect and advance the best needs and interests of FPA and public access media in general, and has written a number of articles, regarding community media, and been quoted in print media, including the national cable industry magazine, Multichannel News.

Ed Wright

Wright is a multi-media advisor and consultant for financial structuring/investment, production, marketing, and development of project creation from inception to distribution of media content worldwide. He has a broad background, from buying his first 16mm camera at age 15, to working as a producer, to acting as the COO of a global telecommunications provider. Throughout his career, Wright has been driving media activities from China to the United Arab Emirates and in emerging markets across the globe. He is currently a partner in several digital, film, satellite, and television companies.

Michael Kamel

Michael Kamel is a curator, filmmaker, photographer and content creator. He currently works at the Smithsonian, assisting with studio arts classes. Michael has never believed in limiting himself to one box, and his experiences have crafted him into a proactive, positive and efficient team player. He holds a dual B.A. in Film and Video Studies and Communications from George Mason University.

Kwanza Gooden

Kwanza Nicole Gooden is a director, writer, producer, editor, and videographer whose work has been featured on USA Today, BuzzFeed, and BET Networks. In 2018, she was awarded Best Director at the Oscar-qualifying Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival for her short film, Token. That same year she directed, shot, and edited Prisoners of Prohibition, a four-part doc-series executive produced by Snoop Dogg and his production company, Merry Jane. Prisoners won a Gold Telly Award in 2019. A Jill of all trades, Kwanza’s vast skill set has allowed her to create a diverse portfolio encompassing many styles of visual content. Through film, TV and visual media, Kwanza continues to provide a platform that amplifies the voices of those who are underrepresented and misrepresented. 

Ex-Officio Members

Ryan Lawrence Braaten – Associate Director of Development, College of Visual and Performing Arts

Tommy Britt – Associate Professor, Film and Video Studies

Hans Charles – Assistant Professor, Film and Video Studies

Giovanna Chesler – Full Professor, Film and Video Studies

Cynthia Fuchs - Interim Director/Associate Professor, Film and Media Studies

Susan Graziano – Director of Development, College of Visual and Performing Arts

Amanda Kraus – Assistant Professor, Film and Video Studies

Ben Steger – Associate Professor, Film and Video Studies

Lisa Thrasher - Assistant Professor, Film and Video Studies

Nikyatu Jusu - Assistant Professor, Film and Video Studies

Maura Ugarte - Assistant Professor, Film and Video Studies