Director of Programming, Founder
Colleen deVeer came from a very artistic family that instilled in her a love for visual and performing arts at a very young age. Ms. deVeer is a graduate of Boston College, where she was a Director of The Boston College Dance Ensemble and received her B.A. in Theatre Arts. Following her undergraduate studies, Colleen moved on to the Actor’s Studio in New York City where she received a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting, training with renowned acting masters, David Gideon, Barbara Poitier, Elizabeth Kemp, and Doug Moston. After fifteen years of working as an actress and dancer in theater, film, commercials, and television, Colleen met two playwrights whose work she found so exceptional that she tried her hand at producing, launching two successful plays in repertory with critically acclaimed NYC stage runs. Colleen moved out to Greenwich in 2012 with her husband and two children where she Co-Founded The Greenwich International Film Festival. A long time cinephile, Colleen has traveled to dozens of film festivals across the country and abroad, has served as the Festival’s Director of Programming for the last 3 years and is a proud member of the Advisory Board of the Avon Theatre in Stamford, CT.
Chairman of the Board, Founder
Wendy Stapleton is a Greenwich native who graduated Cum Laude from the University of Michigan before earning her MFA from the Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California. At USC, Wendy learned fiction and screenwriting from some of Hollywood’s most famous and beloved writers including Shelly Berman and Syd Field. For the past 10 years, Wendy has worked tirelessly raising money for multiple non-profit organizations many of which she sits on the boards of. She’s been a member of UNICEF’s Next Generation Board and was formerly the chair of the Greenwich chapter. Wendy also helps women and children affected by HIV and AIDS through an organization known as FXB in Baranquilla, Colombia. She raised enough money to support 80 families for 3 years until they were able to get healthier and better educated, eventually being able to sustain themselves and their children. Along with Ms. Reyes’ background in the arts, her passion for philanthropy strengthens the GIFF team’s commitment to using film to serve the greater good.
Executive Director, COO
Ginger Stickel has had a long love for film as an art form, which led her to start the Greenwich Youth Film Festival for high school students in Fairfield and Westchester Counties. After successfully running the film festival for several years, she joined the Greenwich International Film Festival as COO. She has recently worked as a part-time strategic consultant helping start-ups create business and marketing plans. Previously, she worked in brand management at Colgate-Palmolive developing brand-building programs that drove business with key retail customers. Some of her projects included overseeing a grass-roots marketing program that grew sales in hard-to-reach areas of the country, launching new products for SoftSoap Body Wash, creating strategic growth plans. Ginger graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University (OH) and a Masters of Business Administration from Columbia Business School.
Melissa Levin joined the GIFF team in the newly-created role of Development Manager. Partnering with the Board of Directors, Executive Director, festival staff and volunteers, Melissa will help execute a comprehensive development plan to accomplish GIFF’s fundraising goals through cultivation and stewardship of individual and major donors, corporations and foundations, as well as through outreach efforts that engage and support the community. In addition, she will assist with special events, marketing and communications, and will oversee the development database. Melissa brings considerable professional expertise and management experience in the visual arts from her roles at Sotheby’s New York, Artnet, the Smithsonian Institution, and as curator and advisor to several notable private art collectors. She also has a fundraising background from the New York Studio School, Bard College/Lacoste School of the Arts in France, the American Ballet Theater and, most recently, as Associate Director of Advancement at the New Canaan Country School. Melissa has served on numerous local development committees and has chaired auctions and other fundraising events for the Bruce Museum, Greenwich Hospital, the Greenwich United Way and the YWCA. Melissa holds an M.A. in Arts Administration from Columbia University and a B.A in International Relations from the George Washington University.
Maryann Ghirardelli joined GIFF in 2015, bringing a variety of corporate and office management experiences. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the office as well as coordinating special events. Her incredible organization skills keeps our team running smoothly. Maryann graduated with a BA from St. Peter’s University. Maryann is actively involved in the community and is a member of the Junior League of Greenwich.
Sam Kleiner joined GIFF in 2016 bringing a filmmakers eye and a rich knowledge of film history to the programming team. He made his first short film in the seventh grade and has been passionate about filmmaking ever since. Sam has attended a number of intensive programs at international film schools including the Prague Film School and the New York Film Academy. He graduated Cum Laude from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon with a BA in Psychology and Film Studies. Sam’s postgraduate experience in film has been primarily in publicity and he has had the opportunity to work with some of the top distribution companies in New York including Magnolia Pictures, Cinetic Media, and A24. Sam has also been fortunate enough to participate in a number of different film festivals including Tribeca, SXSW, Sundance, and Cannes. He loves festivals because they highlight certain films that might normally not be seen and provide a unique platform for filmmakers to find their audience.
Bears Fonte is the former Director of Programming for Austin Film Festival as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Other Worlds Austin, a SciFi film festival. He writes reviews, previews, and interviews for AMFM Magazine, focusing on Indie Film and the Film Festival Circuit as well as serving as consultant for both film festivals and filmmakers navigating the festival scene. His feature film debut iCrime received DVD and VOD distribution after playing a number of film festivals. His most recent short, The Secret Keeper, just finished the circuit, playing 40+ festivals over 18 months.