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ABOUT US: The Advisory Board

Martha Lauzen Headshot   DR. MARTHA M. LAUZEN
Dr. Martha M. Lauzen serves as the Executive Director of the Center. A nationally and internationally recognized expert on the employment of women on screen and behind the scenes, Dr. Lauzen’s research has been widely published in scholarly journals, as well as entertainment trade publications, and the popular press. Her studies of women working in film (The Celluloid Ceiling) and prime-time television (Boxed In) serve as the cornerstones for the Center’s research agenda. Dr. Lauzen teaches classes in the School of Theatre, Television and Film. She holds a doctorate from the University of Maryland and M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Iowa.



Mara Brock Akil Headshot   MARA BROCK AKIL
Mara Brock Akil created the critically acclaimed comedy series Girlfriends. The series earned multiple honors including the Shine Award and  Prism Award, and numerous NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. Ms. Brock Akil was also a writer on the groundbreaking series Moesha and South Central,  and served as supervising producer on The Jamie Foxx Show. Recently, Essence magazine featured her as one of the “Outstanding Women under 40,” and she was featured in Newsweek’s “Women & Power” issue which highlighted influential women from all walks of life. She holds a B.A. from Northwestern University.



Madelyn Hammond Headshot   MADELYN HAMMOND
Madelyn Hammond serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of the Variety Entertainment Group. As the first person to hold this title in the company's
100-year history, she is responsible for developing the global brand and marketing strategy for Daily Variety, Variety, and, as well as Video Business, Tradeshow Week, LA 411 and NY 411. In addition, she is responsible for expanding the group's worldwide partnerships with advertisers and brand marketers, and oversees Variety's corporate communications, publicity and promotion, research and event marketing. Ms. Hammond also serves as consulting producer on AMC's Shootout, hosted by Peter Bart and Peter Guber.



Kathy Najimy Headshot   KATHY NAJIMY
Kathy Najimy is an award-winning actress, appearing in numerous films, television series, and on Broadway. Her film credits include roles in more than 20 films including Sister Acts 1 and 2, Hocus Pocus, RatRace, Hope Floats, Nevada, Cats Don’t Dance, Zack and Reba, This Is My Life, The Fisher King, Soapdish, and The Wedding Planner, and she voiced characters Tinker Bell and WALL-E. On television, she has played roles on series including Numb3rs, King of the Hill, Veronica’s Closet, and Chicago Hope. Ms. Najimy is also an activist for a variety of causes including AIDS and PETA, and was voted Ms. Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 2005.



Robin Swicord Headshot   ROBIN SWICORD
Robin Swicord first emerged as a writer with her off-Broadway comedy/dramas Last Days at the Dixie Girl Café and Criminal Minds. She is primarily known for her work as a screenwriter, especially for her adaptations of Memoirs of a Geisha, Little Women, Matilda (co-written with her husband Nicholas Kazan), The Perez Family, and Practical Magic. Her first screen credit was on the romantic teen comedy Shag. Recently, Ms. Swicord wrote and directed an adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler’s novel The Jane Austen Book Club, which premiered in Fall 2007 at the Toronto Film Festival. She also serves on the Board of the Writers Guild Foundation and as a Trustee of the Writers Guild’s Pension and Health Fund.


Nia Vardalos Headshot   NIA VARDALOS
Nia Vardalos is the star and writer of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of the highest grossing independent feature films, and the number one romantic comedy of all time. Ms. Vardalos won the Independent Spirit Award for “Best Debut Performance,” and the film won the Peoples’ Choice Award for “Favorite Comedy Motion Picture.” She also received Academy Award and Writers Guild Award nominations for “Best Original Screenplay,” and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for her performance. Ms. Vardalos co-wrote and stars in the soon-to-be-released My Life in Ruins. Ms. Vardalos also wrote, produced, and starred in the film Connie and Carla, served as executive producer on the documentary A Taxi Odyssey, and began her career at The Second City.



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