The Team

Aviva Kempner

Aviva Kempner

Founder/ Editor

A Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker, creates successful and critically acclaimed documentaries about under-known Jewish heroes and social justice. In 2019, she premiered her fifth commercially-released film about Moe Berg , The Spy Behind Home Plate. Her other films include Rosenwald, a documentary about how Chicago businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald partnered with Booker T. Washington in establishing over 5,000 schools for African Americans in the Jim Crow South; Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, about Gertrude Berg, who created the first television sitcom; and the Emmy-nominated and Peabody-awarded The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, about the Hall of Famer who faced anti-Semitism during the ’30s.  Both Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg and Hank Greenberg grossed over a million dollars at the box office and are highly ranked, along with Rosenwald, on Rotten Tomatoes. She also produced the award-winning documentary Partisans of Vilna, about Jews fighting the Nazis.

Kempner is also co-directing and co-producing Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting with Ben West (Cheyenne), ESPN Commentator and Washington Post contributor, Kevin Blackistone, and filmmaker Sam Bardley. She co-wrote and is co-producing the dramatic script Casuse with West. The project is about the Navajo activist Larry Casuse, who Kempner knew while a VISTA volunteer in New Mexico in the early ’70s.  Kempner graduated from the University of Michigan in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and in 1971 earned her master’s in urban planning. In 1976, she earned her law degree from the Antioch School of Law.

Kempner lives in Washington, DC where she plays a prominent role in the artist and film community. She started the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 1990 and was on the board of Women and Film and Video. She is also an activist for statehood and voting rights for the District of Columbia.

She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, recipient of the 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2000 DC Mayor’s Art Award: 2001 Women of Vision award from D.C.’s Women in Film and Video chapter, the 2001 Media Arts award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Awardee. Kempner received the Bernardo O’Higgins Award and in 2017, a honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of the District of Columbia in 2018 and the Moment award in 2019.

She writes film criticism and feature articles for numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Crystal City Magazine, The Forward, Baltimore Jewish Times, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Legal Times, New York Times, The Wrap, Washington Jewish Week and The Washington Post.

Paulina Duque

Paulina Duque

Contributor

Paulina Duque is a journalism student at the University of Maryland- College Park with a concentration in film, and plans on graduating in Spring 2022. She began the research for the timeline of Women in Sports and is a writer interning with the Ciesla Foundation. She is also the senior editor for HerCampus- Maryland with a passion for music, film, and advocating for social justice.

Connie Coopersmith

Connie Coopersmith

Contributor

Connie Coopersmith is a partner in Zenviba and White Chocolate Management. She has served in every presidential election since 1992 as a senior advance associate and has directed extensive field and GOTV operations. She also traveled for the White House, the State and Commerce Departments and the Clinton Foundation helming events and leading large advance teams on five continents. 

As an award-winning magazine writer, editor and television producer, she has covered or directed/produced for Monday Night Football, The Triple Crown, UFC/MMA, championship tennis, auto racing, hydroplane racing, sport fishing tournaments and other major live sporting events.

Connie Coopersmith has developed original television programming and magazines.

Coopersmith has also conceived, produced and directed events and cause related efforts for a diverse group of clients including UNESCO, the U.S. State Department, the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Justice Department.  Other projects include March for Our Lives, the Capital Children’s Museum, Vital Voices, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, the National Fishing Hall of Fame, the Royal Kingdoms of Thailand and Jordan, One Fair Wage, the Safe Surfing Foundation with Shaquille O’Neal, the Dan Marino Foundatiion and the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.

Athena Robles

Athena Robles

Development Director

Athena Robles is a visual artist whose work involves drawing, sculpture, printmaking, and social engagement art. She has exhibited her work nationally, including at the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, DC’s Emerge Art Fair and in New York at the American Museum of Natural History and the New Museum’s IdeasCity. Athena is a recipient of a Van Lier Fellowship, among several grants and awards, and she has participated on panels for the Ford Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and others. Her collaborative, interactive public art projects with Anna Stein have been covered in the press by CNN, the BBC, NPR, the Guardian, MSNBC and other outlets.

Athena values community service and currently serves as a board member for the Asian American Arts Alliance. She was a member of the artist collective Godzilla in New York and was an artist-in-residence at Kate Millett’s art colony for women in Poughkeepsie, NY. Athena is director of development for The Ciesla Foundation. She is also a soccer mom and former field hockey player. Find her online at http://doubleaprojects.com/
Becca Schwartz

Becca Schwartz

Graphics Designer

Becca Schwartz is an artist living in Las Vegas, NV. She’s been recognized for her photography by the Kennedy Center and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Find her online at https://beccaschwartz.net/

Aileen Roberta Schlef

Aileen Roberta Schlef

Contributor

Aileen Roberta Schlef founded Creative Alliance Communications (CAC/Creative Alliance) to help clients succeed with top-tier business and organizational systems that are intrinsically linked to their internal and external communications strategies. With an expert consultant network, she is recognized for ground-breaking work in corporate, business, government, university and nonprofit settings.

Since founding Creative Alliance Communications (CAC) in 1997, Aileen has secured millions of dollars in federal grants and corporate sponsorships for clients, led executives through countless messaging shifts resulting in measurable internal and external advancements.

A compelling wordsmith and communicator, Aileen brings thoughtful real-life perspective to her work. She has reported on Latino life since the 1972 launch of La Luz Magazine. An active member of the National Press Club, Aileen received Vivian Awards in 2011, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2020 for her special projects on behalf of members. She is the 2020 Co-Chair of the NPC Events Committee.

Jessie Atkin

Jessie Atkin

Social Media Coordinator

Jessie Atkin is a 2015 graduate of the MFA Creative Writing Program at American University. She writes fiction, poetry, essays, and plays. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, The YA Review Network, Writers Resist, Flock Lit, and elsewhere. She is also the Social Media Coordinator for the documentary, Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting.

Lillian “Lilly” Reese

Lillian “Lilly” Reese

Contributor

Lilly Reese is a writer, reporter and researcher for SEW. She is a 2020 graduate of the University of Maryland with degrees in journalism and criminal justice. In high school, Reese won five individual state championships and earned a spot on Maryland’s track and field team. She worked with Maryland’s athletic department as a media relations intern during her undergraduate years. Reese preferred to work with women’s sports, including field hockey, women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s track and field. She has been working with the Ciesla Foundation since January 2020 on several projects including Imagining the Indian, Ben Hecht and Pissed Off. Reese will incorporate her passions for equality and sports to shine the light on important issues facing women in sports.