Dr. Mehret Mandefro, President & Producer

mehretDr. Mehret Mandefro is an interdisciplinary scholar and producer who draws from her background as a medical anthropologist and public health physician to craft textured narrative that explore the social determinants of health.  Her research uses clinical medicine, public health, anthropology, and film to examine the health outcomes of vulnerable populations and create what she calls “visual medicine”. She has led innovative research collaborations between academic, government, and relevant stakeholder organizations on an array of domestic and international health policy issues.

Dr. Mandefro began her career as a physician and public health practitioner working extensively with HIV infected and affected communities in Botswana, South Africa, Ethiopia, and New York on issues of prevention and treatment. She subsequently joined the research faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University Pennsylvania as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar where she received a pilot grant to create the nonprofit production company Truth Aid. Her HIV research is the subject of a full feature documentary called All of Us that premiered on Showtime Networks 2008-2010.

Appointed by President Obama as 2009-2010 White House Fellow, Dr. Mandefro worked on behavioral health policy issues for returning Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan War and co-chaired the health systems and life experiences sub-committee of the Federal Inter-agency Health Equity Team, which was responsible for developing the nation’s first public health strategy to eliminate health disparities. Upon completion of her fellowship, she joined the Obama administration and served as a health policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

She was most recently Chief Medical Officer of Amida Tech and on faculty in the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. Dr. Mandefro also serves on the Board of Directors of the international reproductive health organization EngenderHealth as the Chair of Public Affairs and Development.

She received her BA in Anthropology and her MD from Harvard University, and a Masters of Science in the Public Health of Developing Countries at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar. She completed her internal medicine primary care residency at Montefiore Medical Center.

Lacey Schwartz, CEO & Producer

Lacey Schwartz has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and media sector. Lacey has served as a production, development and community consultant for a variety of production companies, networks, and organizations including MTV, BETJ, @radical.media, Institute for Jewish Community and Research and NASCAR.

For her clients, Lacey has been involved in all levels of production, business and creative strategy, from the initial development of creative ideas to physical production and the editing process through distribution. Lacey has worked on projects in conjunction with various entities, including the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Pepsi, GM, L’Oreal, Red Bull, PBS, BMW, BBC, Universal Studios, Universal Music Group, Warner Brothers and the Sundance Channel.

Originally from Woodstock, NY, Lacey graduated cum laude in 1998 from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and a minor in Studio Arts and received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2003.

Previous to her career in television and film production, Lacey worked in corporate, civil rights and entertainment law at Brown and Wood LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison LLP, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and MTV Networks.  She also worked as a New York City Public School teacher teaching math and theater while she DJed on the side for an arts organization, band and private parties.

Nathaniel Simmons, Chair of Board

Nate SimmonsNate Simmons is Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing and Sales for the News & Sports Group at Time Inc, overseeing all consumer sales and marketing activities for the TIME, Sports Illustrated, Golf, Fortune and Money brands.Nate was previously Vice President, Consumer Marketing for the TIME and TIME for Kids. In this role he helped spearhead Time Inc.’s marketing strategy for selling digital content to consumers on e-readers and mobile devices, and he played an instrumental role in the launch of the tablet editions of TIME and other Time Inc. properties. Nate joined Time Inc. in 2004 and has held a variety of roles in the Consumer Marketing division, including Vice President, Consumer Marketing, and Director, Partnership and Online Marketing for Entertainment Weekly. Prior to joining Time Inc. , Nate worked in the Strategy & Investments group at Time Warner and as a consultant in the New York office of McKinsey & Co. Nate graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Economics and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Danielle Gray, Board Member

Gray_DDanielle Gray is a litigation partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. She previously served as Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary. As President Obama’s primary liaison to the Cabinet departments and agencies, she helped to coordinate policy and communications strategy across the Administration. Prior to this, she served as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, where she focused on labor, education, and training issues. Danielle began her tenure in the Obama Administration as a lawyer in the White House and Justice Department. As Associate Counsel to the President, she served as one of the principal lawyers advising on the Affordable Care Act and played a lead role in judicial selection and confirmation proceedings and as Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, she focused on constitutional challenges to federal statutes, policies, and agency actions.

Gray remains active in public and civic projects. She is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, focusing on democracy, civil rights, criminal justice, and the judicial system. She is also a Lecturer at Harvard Law School.

Leigh Parrinello, Board Member

LeighLeigh Parrinello is a Senior Vice President in the award-winning Consumer Division of Marina Maher Communications (MMC) where she oversees the COVERGIRL brand’s social media and communications strategy. Prior to her time at MMC, Leigh’s experience ran the gamut. She worked in the luxury and lifestyle genres across a bevy of blue chip brands such as Tiffany & Co, Rolls-Royce, the Ferrero brands, Diageo Spirits and Gallo Wines creating & executing strategic communications campaigns.

During her career, Leigh also started the successful PR & events division for AriZona Beverages. She created the structure for a strong arts platform, and strategically aligned the brand with emerging talent in fashion, film, classical arts and a special focus on music. While launching upwards of 10 new product lines, Leigh also developed cross promotional branding strategies, created an overarching PR platform for events, handled VIP & celebrity relations, crisis management, in addition to the brand’s base media relations strategy.

She currently resides in New York City’s Greenwich Village with her husband and has a passion for music, travel and entertaining.