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, serves as the Festival’s Director of Programming 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. Stapleton’s 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.
Shari Angel’s love affair with film started when she was just a girl. Professionally, this took the form of programming for film and TV almost a decade ago. She cut her teeth in film programming and acquisitions at HBO, and then later lead the programming for movie streaming service Tribeca Shortlist. There she hand-picked films for a select and ever-changing group of movies for subscribers focused on quality and expert curation. After completing her undergraduate degree from Pace University in communications and gender studies, Ms. Angel continued her education with a master’s degree from New York University. There, her curriculum included Cinema and American pop culture. She was granted a global research fellowship while at NYU and completed her graduate thesis in central and eastern Europe’s mecca for cinema, Prague. Shari thrives in the fast-paced environment of film festivals and has been on selection committees for other festivals. She loves finding the needle-in-the-haystack movies that stick with you and believes that cinema is our greatest art form and best tool for truly empathizing with others. She is honored to be this year’s Programmer for GIFF and resides in Queens, NY with her husband and two dogs.
Neelab Hussaini joined the GIFF team as Office Manager. She spent most of her time working in Office Administration, Marketing, and Events in various industries such as Real Estate, Retail and Entertainment. She has hosted previous blogger events and her passion of networking and outgoing personality serves a great purpose in the role. She is the friendly voice that will most likely greet you when you call the GIFF office. She is a dynamic, resourceful and energetic individual who is most comfortable with being the go-to person for anything related to the seamless running of our office. There is never a task too big or too small for her. Neelab holds a Bachelors Degree in Marketing from Sacred Heart University.
Bears Rebecca Fonté is a transgender writer/director, the former Director of Programming for Austin Film Festival and the founder and Artistic Director of Other Worlds Austin, one of the preeminent sci-fi film festivals in the world. In two years at AFF, Bears helped shepherd 38 world premiere features and had seven films picked up for distribution at (or immediately following) the festival. Their current sci-fi short, Prenatal, has played 30+ festivals, and their feature thriller, iCrime, which they wrote and directed, was released on DVD, VOD, and streaming by Vicious Circle Films in 2011. Their last short film, the supernatural thriller Roadside Assistance, screened at 69 festivals including Sci-Fi London and Dances With Films. Bears was also one of the producers on the Sundance jury award-winning short film The Procedure.
Prior to arriving in Austin, Bears wrote coverage for independent producers and coverage services in LA and placed in nearly every single screenwriting contest out there. Bears received his BA from Carleton College in British Studies and Theatre Studies, and an MFA in Directing from Indiana University.