Jonathan Jackson - Artistic & Executive Director

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Jonathan Jackson moved to Milwaukee 15 years ago to study filmmaking at UW-Milwaukee - just a week before classes started, and having never stepped foot in Wisconsin before. He previously served as the artistic director for the Milwaukee International Film Festival, directing film programming there from 2003 to 2007. Jonathan currently serves on the Board of the Creative Alliance Milwaukee and on the Education Committee of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Previously, he worked as a teacher for the UWM Film Department, as a freelance writer for the Shepherd Express, as curator of film programs for the Milwaukee Art Museum, and as program manager of the UWM Union Theatre. In 2011, Jonathan was honored with a Milwaukee Business Journal "40 under 40" Award. 

Kyle Heller - Managing Director

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Kyle Heller has worked with Milwaukee Film since its establishment in 2008. Currently, he oversees financial management, human resources and day-to-day operations. During the festival, he also oversees theatre management, box office management and the volunteer program. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Kyle previously worked as the Operations Director for Milwaukee Film. 

Blyth Meier - Marketing Director

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Blyth Meier is Milwaukee Film's Marketing Director. As a long-time volunteer with the festival, she served on the Features Program Committee and as a writer for the festival program book before joining the staff full time in 2010. She is a filmmaker and photographer who  received her MFA from UW-Milwaukee's Film Department. Originally from North Dakota, Blyth has lived in Milwaukee for the past eleven years and is proud to call Riverwest home.

Kristen Coates - Operations Director

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Kristen Coates has been involved with Milwaukee Film since 2011. She holds an MBA and graduate certificate in Film Studies from the University of Massachusetts. Her past festival experience includes working for the Sundance Film Festival, the San Francisco Film Society, the Provincetown Film Festival, and the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. She has worked on both independent and major motion pictures, and is a contributing writer for The Film Stage, often promoting upcoming projects that expand their funding and audience base through crowdfunding platforms. There are few things Kristen appreciates more than a well crafted dirty chai or exploring new baseball parks across the country.

Anna Sampers - Grant Writer & Shorts Programmer

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Anna Sampers oversees sponsorship fulfillment, grant writing and donor cultivation for Milwaukee Film in addition to coordinating the short film programs. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Anna received her BFA in Film, with a double minor in Film Studies and Spanish. She previously interned for the Milwaukee International Film Festival. Anna is also an accomplished, award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at the Wisconsin Film Festival and the Ivy Film Festival, among others.

Cara Ogburn - Education Manager

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Cara Ogburn is the Education Manager at Milwaukee Film. Originally from Seattle, she came to Milwaukee in 2002 to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2011, she joined Milwaukee Film in a seasonal capacity as Panels Producer, a role she held for two years. With a background in teaching at the college level, interdisciplinary scholarship, and academic events coordination, she is pleased to oversee the filmmaker services, youth and adult education branches of Milwaukee Film’s programs. She is still working on her dissertation.

Jessica Bursi - Development Manager

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Jessica Bursi is the Development Manager for Milwaukee Film. Memphis-born and Midwest-raised, Jessica moved to Los Angeles after graduating from SIU-Carbondale. She spent her early LA years at VH1 Motion Pictures, and then transitioned into the nonprofit world with Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness for film preservation. There, as she worked her way from assistant to Program Director, she found her professional calling – helping to ensure that films continue to be seen by new and appreciative audiences. Preferably in a darkened theater with a bucket of hot popcorn (and an ice cold beer!). Returning to the Midwest to be closer to family, Jessica is thrilled to be a part of Milwaukee Film and its efforts to share important and entertaining films with our community.

Jaclyn O'Grady - Programming Manager

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Hailing from River Falls, WI, Jaclyn is very happy to be returning to America’s Dairyland to join the Milwaukee Film team. After studying Cinema and Media Culture at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, she threw herself into the realm of itinerant film festival work and spent seven years on the road. Highlights include roles with Sundance Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Doha Tribeca Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, Outfest, and Sound Unseen Duluth. Jaclyn remains a member of the Dinosaur Appreciation Committee (Sundance chapter), and enjoys spending her free time eating cheese, reading '60s sci-fi paperbacks, and listening to '90s movie soundtracks (frequently all at once).

Ben Balcom - Technical Director

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Ben Balcom is an artist, educator, and the Technical Director at Milwaukee Film. Born in Boston and raised in Evanston, IL, Ben moved to Milwaukee in 2011 to pursue an MFA in filmmaking at UWM. He joined the Milwaukee Film seasonal staff in 2011 as a projectionist. Along with his work at the festival, Ben is also an associate lecturer at UWM, and curator of a small neighborhood screening space in Riverwest called Microlights, which specializes in underground and experimental cinema. His own film & video work addresses everything from metaphysics and the moon, to hand massages and household objects. Its pretty weird.

Kristopher Pollard - Membership Coordinator

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Kristopher Pollard is Milwaukee Film’s Executive Assistant/Membership Coordinator.  He studied Literature at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri before moving to Milwaukee 10 years ago.  Before coming to Milwaukee Film, Kristopher was an Executive Assistant at Lubavitch of Wisconsin and an Assistant Manager with the Harry L. Schwartz Bookshops.  He is also an artist and illustrator whose work has been shown in galleries and publications around the country.

Milan Zori - Marketing Coordinator

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In 2003, Milan Zori quit a good job and moved to Milwaukee with a bunch of his friends. A decade later, he’s one of only two still living here, and has made his living being creative (under an alias) for people, places, and things who need it. In 2012, after a few years of freelancing for Milwaukee Film, he joined the seasonal staff as Marketing Coordinator, where he continues to do whatever Blyth asks him to, and tries to work the phrase “Lemmy Filmster” into as many projects as possible. (With zero success so far.)


Megan Benedict - Executive Assistant

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Megan Benedict is the Executive Assistant at Milwaukee Film. Originally from Sovereign State of Winneconne, she moved to Milwaukee in 2009 to pursue degrees in Film Studies, Advertising, and LGBT Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After volunteering at the festival, Megan became Milwaukee Film's Program Book Intern in 2011, Features Programming Intern in 2012, and Marketing Assistant in 2013. Megan also served on Milwaukee Film's street team for two years and Features Screening Committee in 2012. In addition, Megan was a Programming Intern for the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and worked as seasonal staff at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Her favorite activities are talking about Gael García Bernal, reading BuzzFeed, and drinking hard cider.

Jeff Kurz - Production Consultant

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Jeff Kurz is a Production Consultant for Milwaukee Film, overseeing its Filmmaker-in-Residence program and other production initiatives, as well as a screenwriting mentor and feature selection committee member. He’s a Racine, WI native, a graduate of UW-Madison and a former Miramax Films studio executive (where he worked on movies like The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction and Scream).  As a writer/producer through his production company, Belle City Pictures, he has deals with Film 4 in London and Vin Diesel’s One Race Films in Los Angeles. Jeff is also an Associate Lecturer in UW-Milwaukee’s Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres.

For the Festival

Development Events Coordinator 

Jenna Kashou

Collaborative Cinema Producer

Susan Kerns

Education Assistant

Maria Pretzl

Education Program Advisor

Brian Gallagher

On-site Workshop Instructional Staff

Betty Allen
Vincenzo Balistreri
Lilly Coyle
Sean Kafer
Sam Kozel
Ken Lawrence
Sydonia Lucchesi
Kristin Peterson
Maria Pretzl
Nate Schardin
Sitora Takanaev
Erica Thompson 

Panels Assistant

Jessica Knap

Community Partners Coordinator

Maureen Post

Festival Campaign Creative

Cathy Brautigam, Lone Shoe Graphics 

Festival Campaign Illustrations

Kristopher Pollard (aka Kpolly)

Marketing Assistant

Megan Benedict

Merchandise Coordinator

Claire Jackson

Photography & Video Coordinator

Jessica Kaminski


Alan Herzberg
Erik Ljung
Jennifer Johnson

Program Book Writer

Tom Fuchs


Erik Ljung
Matthew Mixon 



Box Office Managers

Shaverick Allen
Daniel Boville
Peter Lowe 

Festival Operations Driver/Distribution Coordinator

Erik Chandler

Theatre Managers

Rachel Engel
Lex McNaughton
Sarah Williams

Volunteer Coordinator

Emily Porter 



James Bond
Justin Dennis
Adam Norden
Brant Villeux 

Hospitality Coordinator

Jessica Bursi

Hospitality Assistant

Matthew Katte

Print Traffic Coordinator

Alyssa Ludwig


Greg Babush
Ben Balcom
Travis Bird
Joaquin De La Puente
Mark O'Neill
Isaac Sherman

Shipping Coordinator

Dawn Borchardt 



Betty Allen, Education
Michael Clouthier, Development
Ani Injasoulian, Features Programming
Mitch Keller, Features Programming
Tara Monnink, Children's Film Festival
Emily Porter, Shorts Programming

Sponsor Trailer Coordinator
Betty Allen

Advisory Board

John Anderson, Mike Maggiore, Jack Turner

Collaborative Cinema Screenwriting Mentors

Vincenzo Balistreri, Gail DeClark, Ryan Dembroski, Nicole Docta, Jeff Fitzsimmons, Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, Jeff Kurz, Karen Lindholm-Rynkiewicz, Erik Ljung, Donte McFadden, Lance Miller, Kevin Peterka, Ryan Plato

Development Committee

Alec Fraser (Co-chair), Sara Meaney (Co-chair), Carmen Haberman, Dan Katt, Steve Laughlin, Emilia Layden, Steve Mech, Matt Sabljak, David Sengkhammee, Dave Stamm


Education Committee
Patti Keating Kahn (Chair), Jessica Bizub, Silke Cole, Jeff Fitzsimmons, Laura Gembolis, Brigid Globensky, William Haberman, Caroline Haebig, Bobbi Humphrey-Stephens, Julia Magnasco, Ben Schneider, Lajwanti Waghray, Aliza Werner, Maxine Wishner

Film Industry Study Group
Carlo Besasie, Randy Bobo, Bob Donnelly, Mike Drescher, Chip Duncan, Mark Foote, Ericka Frederick, Tracey Klein, Melinda Krei, Brad Lichtenstein, Steve Mech, Barry Poltermann, Janine Rozina, Mark Sabljak, Julia Taylor, Jack Turner, Rubin Whitmore II, Rob Yeo, Anne Zizzo

Finance Committee
Robert Davis (Co-chair), Joe Rock (Co-chair), Leslie Fillingham, Sara Jackson, Nick Werner

Governance Committee
Tracey Klein (Chair), Alec Fraser, Bill Haberman, Steve Laughlin, Marianne Lubar

Features Screening Committee
Elfrieda Abbe, Colin Deval, Jason Jones, Mitchell Keller, Jeff Kurz, Donte McFadden, Tarik Moody, Tasha Oren, Christine Prevetti, Jacki Potratz, Dan Sargeant, Lynn Sbonik, Judy Schaffer, Jessica Z. Schafer, Andrew Swant, Maxine Wishner

Rated K: For Kids Screening Committee
(CHILDREN): Dillon Buckley, Owen Buckley, John Campbell, Rose Campbell, Nolan Farah, Britain Farrar, Norah Farrar, Piper Grimes, Bastian Guten-Gale, Asha Metcalfe, Jasper Metcalfe, Quinn Rushizky, Benjamin Schaefer, Ajay Singh, Julian Singh, Sam Spiker, Jessica Stekloff, Joe Stekloff, Jonathan Stekloff, Juliet "JJ" Weltman, Lucy Weltman

(ADULTS): Jane Botham, Silke Cole, Tim Decker, Brigid Globensky, Roberta Humphrey-Stephens, Cathy Jakicic, Sarah Krocker-Bonilla, Melissa Nelsen, Aliza Werner

Shorts Screening Committee

Steven Armendariz, Brian Berg, Ryan Blomquist, Tom Fuchs, Ken Lawrence, Rebecca Lisberg, Stephen Milek, Carolyn Murray, Frank Olson, Kristopher Pollard, Emily Porter, Roberta Weldon

Cinema Hooligante Screening Committee

Kristen Coates, Andy Helmkamp, Andrew Swant

The Milwaukee Show Programmers

Elfrieda Abbe, Angela Catalano, Tom Fuchs, Jonathan Jackson, Emily Porter, Jessica Z. Schafer