Mary Jo Ziesel
Mary Jo was appointed Executive Director of the Jacob Burns Film Center in September 2021. She joined the JBFC after serving as Managing Director of American Ballet Theatre’s Department of Education & Training. During her 22-year tenure at American Ballet Theatre, Mary Jo led all business operations of the Department of Education & Training, ultimately developing a thriving center of innovation serving more than 20,000 students annually. As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, she spearheaded the launch of the ABT National Training Curriculum, the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in NYC, and the ABT William J Gillespie School in Costa Mesa, CA, an international Summer Intensive program with 9 satellites and a national network of ABT Certified Schools. She brings over 25 years of leadership experience, DEI training, and youth development at premier performing arts and higher education institutions to the Jacob Burns Film Center. Mary Jo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Master of Arts in Performing Arts Administration and Nonprofit Management from New York University.
Executive Assistant to the Executive Director and General Manager
After graduating from Queens College with a degree in English Literature, Selena spent several years at esteemed publishing establishments, such as Writers House, William Morris Endeavor, and the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. Working with creatives fostered a deep love and dedication to uplifting unsung voices. Her favorite movies in include Pacific Rim (2013) and Happy Feet (2006).
Customer Service Manager
Tara began her time with the JBFC as House Manager in 2012 and joined the Membership team in 2016. She earned a BFA from SUNY Purchase, where she studied opera. Tara has also worked as Director of Ticketing Services at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. In her spare time she tries to attend as many live concerts as she can and being a connoisseur of music she is constantly striving to make the best mix playlist.
Education Program Coordinator
Christine joined the JBFC in 2017 as Assistant to the Executive Director. She holds a B.A in English with a minor in Journalism from Mercy College. Prior to joining the JBFC, Christine worked as an Assistant Bank Manager. Christine enjoys writing and owes her love of cinema to her Dad’s own film obsession, and also to the awesome kids movies of the 80’s. She’s a horror fan, but holds an exclusive place in her heart for Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express.
After earning his B.A. in cinema studies from SUNY Purchase, Ed worked as a freelance blogger for a couple years before he found his way into the theater business in 2015. Before joining the Jacob Burns, Ed worked as a projectionist for The Downing Film Center in Newburgh, New York and at iPic Theaters in Dobbs Ferry. Ed is an occasional podcaster who loves to talk about horror movies, pro-wrestling, and his obsession with basketball.
Manager of Theater Operations
Charlotte started working at the JBFC as a member of the House Staff in 2008 and is very happy to return as a House Manager. She graduated with a B.A. in Theater Arts at Hunter College, and is currently getting her M.S.Ed in Educational Theatre at City College of New York. She is a stage manager, and also works as the Office Coordinator at Broadway Training Center of Westchester. She loves theatre and dogs!
Director of Development
Judy joined the JBFC as Director of Development in December 2001. Prior to this, she raised money for a number of nonprofits, including New York City Ballet, Caramoor, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Judy holds a B.A. in Communications from The College of Wooster. A Pleasantville resident, Judy loves books, crossword puzzles, film, and theater. Judy and her husband, Tom, have two daughters and a four-legged son (a black lab).
Donor Engagement & Special Events Manager
Allison joined the JBFC’s development department in 2016. She holds a BA from Bard College in Art History and Classical Studies; before coming to the Burns, she worked for German performance artist Nadja Marcin and collaborative art duo ChanSchatz. When she’s not at work, you can find Allison googling cute pictures of Danny DeVito.
Elizabeth joined the startup staff at the JBFC before the theater opened in June of 2001. Prior to joining the JBFC, she worked at a variety of places including Eileen Fisher, Otowi Trading Company, and WW Norton. Elizabeth has a BA in comparative literature from Harvard. She enjoys working for a nonprofit—combining a love of the arts and helping foster shared experiences. She has fond memories of seeing movies at the old Rome theater!
Director of Web and Digital Services
Alex Gorski joined the Jacob Burns Film Center in 2018. Prior to joining the JBFC, Alex wrote and managed software for the American Museum of Natural History and 8to18 Media. Alex is an alumni of Johns Hopkins University and Zicklin Business School.
Paige Grand Pré
Paige is a writer and filmmaker with a background in international relations and nonprofit work. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in Political Science and received a Certificate in Screenwriting from NYU’s School of Professional Studies. Paige has written both feature and short films, served as everything from Executive Producer to production assistant on shorts and web series, and maintains a film criticism and analysis blog entitled Not Suitable for All Audiences.
Director of Film Programs, Curator-in-Chief
Ryan Harrington is a film and television industry veteran of nearly 20 years. Previously, he worked as Vice President, Documentary Films at National Geographic/Disney+ and Vice President, Artists Programs at Tribeca Film Institute. He has dedicated his career to nurturing and empowering filmmakers from around the globe as a producer, creative executive, and through his various roles in the non-profit funding world.
Jonathan Harris has helped arts organizations achieve their financial, operational, and fundraising objectives for three decades, having previously held directorships at International Contemporary Ensemble, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Carnegie Hall, with special emphasis on financial management, budget implementation and oversight, systems, and operational efficiencies. Outside of this work, Jonathan is an artist whose sound and sculptural installations have been presented at museums, galleries, and public sites throughout New York and internationally. He holds an MFA from Columbia University, two B.Mus degrees from SUNY Purchase, and studied aural/harmonic theory at The Juilliard School.
Director of Special Event Programming
Chris grew up in the UK, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Drama from the University of Hull, the same course as Oscar winning director Anthony Minghella. He’s worked as an actor, a theatre educator, an events host, and most recently as a radio DJ and producer for BBC and Gaydio. Chris runs marathons, and lives in Mt. Kisco with his American husband and his French dog. He’s thrilled to be working back in the arts at JBFC.
Marcus’ connection to the JBFC started back in 2016, when he contributed to a filmmaking fellow’s project during the early days of Creative Culture. In the years since, he went on to co-found his own production company, Vision Craft Productions. Marcus has gained a wealth of experience by working in various sectors of the film industry throughout his career. From being a PA for Showtime to editing nationally televised commercials, all those experiences have led Marcus to the Tech Specialist role at the JBFC.
Susan joined the JBFC in 2002 as its first in-house designer. She was assigned an old desk and sent off to buy the company’s first Apple computer. Susan graduated as a design major from UCLA and worked in a tiny advertising agency in California. She happily moved back East for a job at Harper’s Bazaar. Susan continued in publishing, designing for Ms. and Sassy, eventually running a design firm with a childhood friend.
Projectionist, AV Coordinator
Jesse started his career at the Jacobs Burns Film Center as a member of the house staff in 2007, before finally moving to the Burns projection booth in 2012. A proud graduate of The School of Visual Arts, he has been a film projectionist and camera operator/assistant on feature films and documentaries for the last decade. When he’s not working, he loves traveling, podcasts, making hot sauce, and collecting extreme horror films.
Ian started working at the JBFC as an usher when the theater reopened in May of 2021. He went on to work in the box office and then as a house manager before moving into the programming department in November of 2022. Ian is a passionate cinephile whose life was unalterably changed after he was brought to the movies for the first time (to see The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland) at the tender age of two. While over time his primary cinematic interests have shifted away from Elmo and toward the films of Claire Denis, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Hong Sang-soo – he still feels that same childlike wonder every time he watches a great film on the big screen. In addition to his love and knowledge of film, Ian is a classically trained actor who received a BFA with Honors from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2020.
Tim joined the Jacob Burns Film Center as a projectionist in March of 2016. Tim has worked in the theater business since 2010 after graduating from Providence College with a minor in film studies. In his free time Tim enjoys hiking, music, video games, and poker, and is currently on a quest to becoming a master Pokemon trainer.
Director of Theater Operations
Jesse has been working in the cinema exhibition industry since 1996, literally growing up in the business. Since joining the JBFC team in 2007 Jesse has worked as a projectionist, house manager, media coordinator, booth manager, and technical director. As Director of Theater Operations, Jesse oversees all aspects of daily activities, ensuring high-quality cinema presentation, stellar customer service, engaging events, and of course, delicious popcorn! Jesse and the talented theater team make it their priority to ensure everyone’s experience at the JBFC is a memorable one and are continuously looking for new ways to dazzle our audiences.
Senior Human Resources Associate
Claudia has always been particularly interested in highlighting stories from a variety of cultures and celebrating inclusiveness. She is a fervent believer that giving voice to people who are often overlooked leads to a more accepting and just society. As a co-founder of Cup of Joe Film, she produces narrative films and tv series with directors from diverse backgrounds. Most recently, she has completed production of the feature film Sora. Claudia supports BAFTA North America as a reviewer for the GSA Student Awards and the Newcomers Program, and she screens narrative-feature films for Dances With Films in West-Hollywood.
Isha is a cinema enthusiast with a background in higher education and communications. Prior to joining the team at JBFC, she worked at a public relations agency in New York and as an admissions counselor at a private, liberal arts college in Maine. Originally from Pune, India, Isha received her BA from Hamilton College with a double major in Sociology and Cinema & Media Studies. Outside of work you can find her making lists, collecting post-its, and defending romantic comedies.
Cait started working at the JBFC as a member of House Staff when reopening in 2021, quickly becoming a part of the house management team. She holds a B.A in Theatre from SUNY Potsdam. Prior to joining the JBFC, Cait worked in regional theatre, most notably the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia as the Production Management Apprentice. When she’s not working, Cait can be found reading, listening to musical theatre, and baking.
After working for the Cable Car Cinema in Providence, RI for seven years, Andrew began working for the JBFC in 2009. His interest in film can find its origins in his love for literature and physics, and how both employ the use of narrative to convey a compelling idea. He can sometimes be seen at the theater teaching the trade to his four year old son, who has begun to refer to himself as “Daddy’s Projectionist.”
Chief Financial Officer
As a finance professional with over 35+ of experience in the corporate sector, Patrick has expertise supporting commercial operations and product development. A seasoned CFO, Patrick has successfully contributed to the turnaround and growth of organizations through focused portfolio analysis, project management and leadership of finance teams. He previously served in numerous Finance and Leadership roles, including as Vice-President of Finance in Global Commercial Operations at Bayer Healthcare Diagnostics and as Chief Financial and Administrative Officer at Psychogenics. He holds an MBA from the University of Richmond and is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Senior Education Programs Manager
Brandon graduated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a B.S. in Electronic Media, Arts and Communication. While attending RPI he interned at IBM in the Software Division. He has also designed and scored independent video games as well as being an accomplished freelance writer. He teaches various Courses @ the Lab.
Manager of Systems and Administration
Sara joined the JBFC’s house management team in 2010. Prior to that she was a volunteer for the JBFC’s Minds in Motion program, as well as a teaching assistant for various classes held at the Media Arts Lab. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation from the School of Visual Arts. Sara is a classically trained pianist who enjoys creating motion graphics and watching movies in her spare time.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Denise, a public relations and marketing professional with more than 25 years experience in various industries/sectors including nonprofit, publishing, and entertainment, joined the JBFC in 2004 as Marketing Director. Previously, Denise worked for The Vitamin Shoppe, Scholastic Inc., and MTV Networks’ Nickelodeon. A classic movie fan, her DVR is set record every Montgomery Clift, Bette Davis, and Cary Grant film that airs.
Lisa joined the JBFC in June 2021. She has over 25 years of experience in finance and accounting from a wide variety of industries. Including non-profit and commercial theaters, film video distributors, Showtime, Viacom, and even a prestigious golf club. A classically trained singer, she enjoys performing with the Oratorio Society of NY and the New Choral Society in Scarsdale. Other than film and music her passions include downhill skiing, hitting the gym, and book reading.
The Jacob Burns Film Center is proud to receive generous support from:
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