MELISSA FITZGERALD – CO ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Melissa Fitzgerald is a dynamic actress producer and social activist. Her acting career has included film, theater and television in New York and Los Angeles. She is best known for playing the role of Carol on NBC’s award-winning political drama The West Wing. She recently completed filming the independent feature, This is Not a Test. Her other film roles include Simple Things, Monument Avenue, Frequency, and Love and Sex.
Earlier in her theatrical career, Melissa attended the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater, where she studied with Sanford Meisner. Melissa worked closely with Israel Horovitz on his plays North Shore Fish and Stage Directions, and also starred in the Los Angeles premiere of Graham Reid’s modern Irish classic, Remembrance, with James Gandolfini and produced by Sean Penn.
DAVID ACKERT – CO ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
In the business world, David Ackert is an e-learning entrepreneur and business development consultant and President of The Ackert Advisory. But Staging Hope drew upon his two decades of experience as a film, television, and theater actor and producer. David and Melissa co-created the theater curriculum you see in the documentary. They also co-founded Voices in Harmony.
WINTER MILLER – PLAYWRIGHT
Winter Miller is an award-winning playwright. Plays include: In Darfur, Paternity, The Arrival, Amandine, The Penetration Play, Conspicuous, and Home/Away. In Darfur premiered at The Public Theater for a sold-out run, followed by a SRO performance at their 1800-seat venue in Central Park, a first for a play by a woman. She travelled to the Chad/Sudan border with Pulitzer-winning Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Winter has worked in theaters across the U.S. and in London, Uganda and Canada. She is a founding member of 13Playwrights. Recent fellowships include: Sundance Institute, Cherry Lane Mentor Project and Hedgebrook.
Working with Ugandan youth forever changed her understanding of the nature of theater and survival. Winter teaches playwriting and mentors young actors and writers. Contact her for socially conscious projects and find out more at www.wintermiller.com.
REBECCA NASSI – MENTOR
Rebecca Nassi graduated with honors from CSUN with a BA in English Honors and obtained her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She practiced law for several years in the private sector before co-founding a national training and development firm. She is a twice-published author, a certified Executive Coach, and holds a Masters in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
JOHN CHAMBERS – MENTOR
John Chambers is the President of the Board of Directors for the United Movement to End Child Soldering (UMECS), which sponsors secondary and higher education for former child soldiers and formerly abducted children living in IDP camps in Northern Uganda war zones.
MONIQUE EDWARDS – MENTOR
Most recently Monique Guest-Stars on “How I Met Your Mother”. Prior to that she Guest-Starred on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Without a Trace” and as “Teena Davis” in Steven Bochco’s “Philly”. She has also Guest -starred on “Boston Publics’”, Peabody award-winning episode “Chapter Thirty-Seven” as well as “Friends”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Judging Amy”, “The Division”, “Strong Medicine” and “The X Files”.
BENJAMIN BURDICK – MENTOR
Benjamin grew up in rural Jerome, Idaho, and then attended Yale University. After graduating from Yale, he went to Denver, Colorado where he participated in AmeriCorps, in the National Civilian Community Corps division. After his stint there, he moved to Los Angeles to begin his acting career. Not long after his arrival, Benjamin was cast as a Series Regular in the family series, “Born Free.” During his time in Los Angeles he has acted in dozens of plays, films and television shows. Most recently he was cast as a Series Regular in the pilot, “Conspiracy.”
ANNE TOWER – PLAY PRODUCER
A Chicago native and UVA grad, Anne has been part of the Voices in Harmony family since her arrival in Los Angeles 12 years ago. During her 6 year stint as a theatrical agent she encouraged many actors to partici-pate in Voices and produced the 2002 Voices show at the Doolittle theatre as well as a very successful fundraising event at the Pacific Design Center. She produces commercials and print ad and resides in Santa Monica, CA.