Faculty & Staff
Amanda NguyenExecutive Producer
Amanda Nguyen is the Director of Special Projects for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), where she develops programs and initiatives to support NYC’s diverse creative industries. She oversees several of the agency's strategic partnerships and special events. Amanda has spearheaded a number of key projects ranging from Movies Under the Stars, a free Citywide outdoor screening series with the NYC Parks Department to DREAMing Out Loud, a series of tuition free writing workshops with PEN America for undocumented students in the CUNY network and Music for the Soul, a program connecting 802 local musicians to paid performances virtually and in-person to frontline workers and hospital staff in NYC’s 11 public hospitals. Since joining MOME in 2014, she also helped mark the agency’s 50th anniversary as a film commission with a campaign celebrating "50 Years of Magic" that spotlighted notable New Yorkers as Made in NY Ambassadors that continues to help recognize NYC talent through the “Made in NY” Awards. Prior to joining City service, Amanda spent 8 years working with POV, PBS’s longest running independent documentary series. She grew up in Seattle but has called NYC her home for 15 years.
Alia Jones-HarveyExecutive Producer
Alia Jones-Harvey is the Interim Associate Commissioner of Industry Initiatives for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. She joined the agency in 2015 as director of education & workforce development. By successfully building partnerships with employers, unions, non-profit organizations, schools, and City agencies, Jones-Harvey has launched educational and training programs that have served over 10,000 New Yorkers. She launched and manages the NYC Women's Fund for Media, Music and Theatre, providing $5.5 million in grants for women-identifying film, music and theater creators—the first municipal program of its kind in the country. In addition, the Olivier Award-winning and 4-time Tony Award-nominated Theatre Producer is the only African American woman lead producing on Broadway. She has successfully mounted or co-produced 8 plays and 3 musicals for Broadway and London’s West End.
Ronald M. BergmannExecutive Producer
Ronald Bergmann became vice president for Information Technology and chief information officer in July 2010. Previously, he served as first deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. He holds a B.S. degree from Union College and an M.S. degree from the New School. Ron is a Fellow of the EDUCAUSE/CLIR Frye Leading Change Institute and was named as one of the nation’s Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers by the Center for Digital Education.
James E. MahonExecutive Producer
James E. Mahon is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at Lehman College. While he was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin, he worked as a film critic for the Dublin Event Guide and assisted in launching the Galway Film Fleadh. He has written on directors Ridley Scott and Ang Lee, as well on various films, novels, TV shows, and comic books. His recent publications include “Novels Never Lie” (British Journal of Aesthetics, 2019) and “Contemporary Approaches to the Philosophy of Lying” (The Oxford Handbook of Lying, 2019).
Ediltrudys RuizExecutive Producer
Before becoming the Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer in September 2022, Ediltrudys (Edi) Ruiz was, since September 2015, the Assistant Vice President for Information Technology. Prior to joining Lehman, Edi served as the Medgar Evers College Assistant Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Her career in higher education started in accounting and finance, serving at LaGuardia Community College in various capacities, including Director of Budget and Financial Accounting Systems, Fund Accountant, and Assistant Purchasing Coordinator. Subsequently, in 2000 Edi joined Bronx Community College, holding several positions with increased responsibilities in Information Technology.
Edi holds an M.S. Ed in Higher Education Administration, M.S. in Business Computer Information Systems, and a B.B.A. in Accounting degrees from Bernard Baruch College, and an A.S. degree from LaGuardia Community College. Throughout her twenty plus years career in higher education, Edi has been the recipient of numerous recognitions, including the CUNY 2011 Ribaudo Award for Information Technology Excellence, the Jane N. Ryland Fellowship from EDUCAUSE, the Bronx Community College 2012 “Extra-Mile” Award, multiple CUNY IT awards and others.
Brendan McGibney has worked in the multimedia industry for over 20 years both in the studio and on location. In his position as Technical Director, Brendan oversees all aspects of video, photo and audio productions for the Multimedia Center at CUNY Lehman College. In 2013, Brendan led a team of students, faculty and professionals in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment to create “Best of the Bronx”, a video series highlighting hidden gems of the Bronx. The series went on to win a NY EMMY®. When not working, you can find him riding a bike, spending time with his family or drinking coffee.
Keren PlowdenProducer/Assistant Director
Keren Plowden is a producer and composer with a body of work in documentary and educational spaces. Previous collaborations with MOME and CUNY Lehman include the NY Emmy® Award-winning series "Best of the Bronx" on which she was a producer. Keren has recently produced music for PBS' new documentary series Mysteries of Mental Illness and also for the United Nations Chamber Music Society. She resides in Brooklyn with her five-year-old son, and about 30 plants.
David SchwittekDirector, Graphics Supervisor
David Schwittek is an artist, designer, and filmmaker working in New York City. He is currently Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media at Lehman College (CUNY). In 2015, David was the recipient of a NY Emmy for best PSA series, in the Community/Public Service category, for his work as producer on the “Best of the Bronx” series. David’s most recent works, a series entitled “21 Truck of San Antonio Texcala,” was exhibited at the Katonah Museum of Art in the summer of 2020. David lives with his wife Abby and his children, Sloane and Sawyer, in Bedford Corners, NY.
Chris ThalerDirector of Photography
Chris Thaler is an independent filmmaker and co-founder of Thaler Films Inc. For the last 30 years he has traveled the world creating films and telling stories. After attending NYU Film School, he worked on and developed programing for networks from Discovery Channel to HBO as well as many others. His films have won several awards including two Emmys. Chris' life-long love of music has informed many of his past projects. He is a guitarist, has recently taken up the Mandolin, and has participated in the local session scene for the last two years. Chris lives with his wife Courtney, and their two daughters, Edith and Imogen, in Huntington, New York.
Marisa WhiteFaculty of Record
Marisa White was a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies and a producer and director for BronxNet. Prior to joining the faculty full-time, Marisa worked with and inspired countless student interns and colleagues and also shared her talent with the Department of Journalism and Media Studies as an adjunct faculty member. As a producer for “Best of the Bronx,” she won an Emmy. Professor White passed away surrounded by family on July 21, 2021 at the age of 54.
Walter GaraicoaPost-Production Supervisor
Walter Garaicoa is the president of WGTV Productions, and Director of Creative Services at BronxNet Television. A 6-times Emmy® Award winner, Walter teaches editing and audio production at Lehman College. He has distinguished himself as an audio engineer, cinematographer, editor, producer, and executive producer. He also continues to work with some of the most prominent companies around the United States, including Clear Ventures, Flir, Christine Valmy, Thermo Fisher, JD Advising, Tranzact, and Fully Vested.
Michael Bacon's continues to score “Finding Your Roots” hosted by Henry Louis Gates (since 2008), “The Man Nobody Knew” (feature documentary), “Slavery by Another Name” (Sundance selection), “Downtown Express” (a feature film directed by David Grubin), “Gloria-In Her Own Words” for HBO, “Stevenson-Lost and Found” (feature documentary), “Master Maggie” (Tribeca selection), and “RX: Early Detection with Sandra Lee” (HBO). The winner of numerous awards including an Emmy and Ace Award, he is an Associate Professor of Music at Lehman College, his alma mater, where he studied composition and orchestration with John Corigliano. His 10th CD with his brother Kevin, “The Bacon Brothers” was released in the spring of 2020.
Magda SotoAssociate Producer
Magda Soto is the facility coordinator for the Multimedia Center at CUNY Lehman College where she manages the day to day operations including all production, videography, photography and sound aspects. As a writer on the “Best of the Bronx” video series, she was part of the team which won a NY Emmy®. A graduate of Lehman College herself, she has previously worked as a producer for The Bronx Journal.
Steve BuonanotteAudio Post Supervisor
Steven Buonanotte is seasoned composer, producer, and audio engineer with over 22 years in the entertainment industry. An in-demand talent, he has worked on music with artists such as The Bacon Brothers, John Bucchino, and Philippe Quint and on television shows including “Good Morning America”, “Pawn Stars” and “Getting to Know the Bronx” which was nominated for two EMMYs. Steve teaches audio production at The New School and Lehman College, where he is also a staff audio and post production engineer.
Melissa Castillo PlanasSocial Media and Marketing Supervisor
Dr. Melissa Castillo Planas is an Associate Professor of English at Lehman College specializing in Latinx literature and culture. She is the author-editor of five books, most recently A Mexican State of Mind: New York City and the New Borderlands of Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2020). Her second book of poetry, Chingona Rules is forthcoming with Finishing Line Press in August 2021. In her free time, she has run 16 marathons and one ultramarathon.
James CarneyMasterclass Coordinator
Assistant Professor Jim Carney currently teaches Journalism & Media Studies at Lehman College. After earning his BA from Fordham University where he was a DJ at WFUV-FM, Carney moved into Cable TV, winning multiple CableAce & Emmy Awards. The ‘90’s saw Carney leading BronxNet TV for almost a decade before joining the Lehman faculty. He also was founding Academic Director of the CUNY Online Baccalaureate Program in Media Communications & Society.
Sharanjit Sahi - Web Developer
Deira Pereyra - Director of IT Application & Web Services
Elkin Urrea - Enterprise Application Developer
Robelkys Vargas - Web Developer & Project Coordinator
Curtis AntwiPost-Production Intern
Curtis Antwi is a junior at Lehman College majoring in Film and TV Studies as well as an intern at the Lehman College Multimedia Center. He loves editing videos, piecing stories together and being involved in productions. He plans to become a Technical Director.
Luisa Sotelo CrisantosPost-Production Intern
Luisa Sotelo C. is a Lehman College 2021 graduate. Her constant interest in all aspects of production led her to pursue a double major in Film and TV studies and in Business Administration. The MOME project was a perfect fit. She hopes to continue to learn and pursue a career within this field.
Nathanial GaryProduction Intern
Nathanial Gary is a rising senior at Lehman College majoring in Film and TV Studies concentrating in Film, as well as double minoring in Media Communications and Journalism. He is a photographer and cinematographer who has dipped his hand in every aspect of the production industry. He was able to use his photographic skills to capture the behind scenes of Shift NYC's production process throughout the five boroughs. Nathanial aim's to dive further into the production industry after he graduates in May of 2022.
Manuel NunezProduction Intern
Manuel Nunez is a senior student at Lehman College majoring in Film and TV Studies. He has been involved in college groups like the leadership program and the swimming and diving team. As a Film major, he has learned the different skills and parameters to become a great storyteller; but it was while interning in the Multimedia Center at Lehman College that he developed proper abilities and hands-on experience in the field.
Kristen WalkerProduction Intern
Kristen Walker is a senior at Lehman College where she is pursing a degree in Film and TV Studies. She is passionate about media, production, and her community. Kristen is currently creating and producing her own podcast titled "Culturally Disturbed," a platform dedicated to highlighting African and Caribbean American experiences around the world. After graduation, she plans to continue to work in media production and build her brand.
Shakei GarciaGraphics Intern
Shakei Garcia graduated from Lehman College in Fall 2020 with a major in Computer Graphics in Imaging. Her dream job is to be a motion graphics or visual effects animator.
Tatiana PinheiroProduction Intern
Tatiana Pinheiro is senior Television studies major with a minor in African studies at Lehman College. She is an aspiring multimedia journalist, who is aiming to work for VICE News. She has taken a multihyphenate approach to achieve her career goals through various internship opportunities like the Shift NYC project. Her current goal is to learn more about television and producing, while continuing to cultivate herself as a writer in narrative form. She hopes to bring a refreshing perspective to the journalism and production world by introducing specialized research on the U.S. system of public housing, as well as around poverty and alleviation.
Dania MiguelMusic composition Intern
Dania is a mixed media artist and composer pursuing a BFA in Multimedia Performing Arts as well as a BA in Music at Lehman College. Past credits include: Cowboys #2, Grapes of Wrath (CUNY Theatre Festival at CCNY), A.D ‘14’ by Jose Casas (TPAC), A.D Lehman Playwright’s Festival, Dir. A Hungry Man (CUNY Theatre Festival 2020), Bronx Brewery live, and Carnegie Hall Masterworks Festival.
Keyanna HookerAudio Intern
KeyAnna Hooker is a recent graduate from Lehman College where she received a degree in Film and TV Studies and a minor in Black Studies. While pursuing her degree, she worked in the college’s Multimedia Center where she honed her photography, videography, and audio skills, finding her talent engaging with audio equipment. In her spare time, she runs a home recording studio primarily in audio production, and assists clientele with photoshoots, and video work.
Denia NzeochaSocial Media/Marketing Intern
Denia Nzeocha is a junior at Lehman College where she is pursuing a degree in Accounting. Throughout her time at Lehman, she has developed tremendous interest in media and social media management which is why she was delighted to get on board the Shift NYC project. Her other hobbies include modeling, editing and traveling.