Filmmakers

Susan Koch

Koch, an Emmy- and Peabody-winning filmmaker, directs and produces documentaries and non-fiction programming for worldwide distribution.

Her feature documentary, Kicking It, about homeless soccer players who compete in an international tournament, premiered at the 2008 Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, was released theatrically and on DVD. It was broadcast on ESPN. Koch co-directed and produced Mario's Story, about a young Latino, Mario Rocha, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison on the basis of one eyewitness and no physical evidence. Mario's Story received the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was broadcast on Showtime in 2009. Koch received a prestigious Soros Justice Media Fellowshop for her work with this film. Koch directed the critically-acclaimed documentary, City at Peace, featured at film festivals throughout the world and broadcast on HBO.

Her work has appeared on ABC, NBC, PBS, HBO, Showtime, MTV, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Turner Broadcasting, American Movie Classics, The Learning Channel and the Travel Channel.

Sheila C. Johnson

Johnson is an entrepreneur and philanthropist whose accomplishments spans the areas of hospitality, sports, TV/film, the arts, education and humanatarian causes.

She is CEO of Salamander Hospitality, LLC, a company she founded in 2005. She oversees a growing portfolio of luxury properites, including Woodlands Inn, in Summerville, SC; Innisbrook, a 72-hole Golf & Resort Spa in Innisbrook, FL; and the much-anticipated Salamander Resort & Spa, currently being constructed in Middleburg, VA. As President and Managing Partner of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and a partner in Lincoln Holdings, LLC, Johnson is the first African American woman to have a stake in three professional sports teams, including the Washington Wizards (NBA) and the Washington Capitals (NHL). She is also a TV pioneer, having been a founder partner of BET (Black Entertainment Television) and the creator of the award-winning program Teen Summit. Currently, Johnson is producing films with humanitarian messages, including Kicking It, A Powerful Noise and She Is The Matador.

In 2006, Johnson was named global ambassador for CARE, a leading aid organization fighting global poverty by empowering women. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of Parsons The New School for Design in New York. A fervent supporter of the arts and education, President Obama appointed her to the President's Committee of the Arts and the Humanities, and she sits on the boards of Americans for the Arts, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, Howard University and the University of Illinois Foundation. An accomplished violinist, Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Illinois, as well as honorary degrees from numerous other institutions. She lives in Middleburg, VA, is married to the Honorable William T. Newman, Jr. and has two children.

Michelle D. Freeman 

Freeman is the owner and active board member of The Carl M. Freeman Companies, and worked very closely with her late husband, Joshua M. Freeman. Established in 1947, the companies are the successful developers of award-winning residential and golf communities and neighborhood     shopping centers. In addition, Freeman launched, owns and operates Pilot Properties, a small business that specializes in the building, rental and sales of properties on the Delaware Shore. She also manages the Freeman Family farm, a 500-acre historic property located in Gaithersburg, Md.

Freeman is the chairman and president of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, created in 2007 to honor Josh’s passions and interests. In addition, she is the chairman and president of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, which has been providing grants and guidance to nonprofit organizations since 1960. Josh and Michelle were proud to be founding members of Venture Philanthropy Partners, she is on the advisory boards of CharityWorks and Youth AIDS and is actively involved with the Landon School in Bethesda, Md.

Freeman is the proud mother of three wonderful children.

Jose Antonio Vargas

Vargas is an award-winning multimedia journalist.

He's a senior contributing editor at The Huffington Post, where he launched the Technology and College sections, and was previously a feature writer and national political reporter for The Washington Post, where he covered technology culture, HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. and the 2008 presidential campaign, among other topics. He won a Pulitzer Prize as a part of a team that covered the 2007 massacre at Virgina Tech.

The media's evolution -- and the breaking down of barriers between print and broadcast journalism -- has guided his nearly 12-year reporting career. He's written for daily newspapers (Philadelphia Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle) and national magazines (New York and Rolling Stone). He's also appeared on several television broadcasts, including CNN, MSNBC, and PBS NewsHour. He serves on the advisory board of the Knight Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, housed at American University in D.C., and he's a very proud graduate of Mountain View High School and San Francisco State University. He currently lives in New York City.

Jeff Werner

Werner is an award-winning editor and director of documentaries, feature films and motion picture advertising.

Most recently, Werner co-produced and edited The Woodmans, a documentary about the famed family of artists. He’s also just finished editing the independent feature PEEP WORLD, starring Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman and Teraji Henson. Werner has worked with Koch on numerous films -- including in 2008, when Werner co-directed and edited the documentary feature Kicking It, and in 2006, when he co-directed and edited Mario's Story. Werner co-produced and edited the documentary feature Second Chance Season, the Nick Young story, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2007 and aired on ESPN in the fall of 2008. He edited The Year Of The Yao, a feature length documentary on Chinese basketball star Yao Ming's first year of living and playing in the U.S. The film was selected by The Toronto Film Festival and aquired for world-wide distribution by Fine Line. He also edited the Lion’s Gate release of Beyond The Mat, a behind the scenes look at professional wrestling. The film was named Academy Award Finalist for Best Documentary Feature and was nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Best Documentary.

His editorial work on The Mirror Has Two Faces marked the fifth film in which Werner collaborated with Barbra Streisand, with projects dating back to A Star Is Born and including Nuts and Yentl. Werner has also directed two documentaries for HBO: The Godfather Family and Bloodlines, the latter having been nominated for a Cable Ace Award. He is the winner of several Hollywood Key Art Awards for his work in motion picture advertising.

Neil Barrett

Barrett is a British director of photography who has worked on more than 30 broadcast documentary films for National Geographic, the BBC, PBS, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, NBC, ABC and CNN.

With a special interest in international journalism and feature-length documentaries, Barrett has filmed in over 40 countries worldwide. His work has won several awards -- a Columbia Dupont award for excellence in journalis, the Edward R. Murrow award for a documentary on the recent war in Liberia, and 3 Cine Golden Eagle Awards. His films have been shown at the Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, Fullframe, SilverDocs and Los Angeles Film Festivals.

Barrett has an MA in Classic, a graduate degree in Visual Anthropology and lives in Washington, D.C.