Each year, Greenwich International Film Festival is proud to honor humanitarians who use their voices for positive social change. We are proud to highlight the accomplishments of these Changemakers, as part of our mission to support causes that relate to basic human rights, education, the environment and health care.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winning songwriter, actor and director. He is the creator and original star of Broadway’s Tony-winning Hamilton and In the Heights. His additional Broadway credits include Freestyle Love Supreme (Co-Founder, Guest Star, Special Tony Award Recipient), Bring It On: The Musical (co-composer/co-lyricist, Tony nomination for Best Musical), and West Side Story (2009 revival, Spanish translations). Miranda is the recipient of the 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award, the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors and the 2019 Portrait of a Nation Prize. He received an Emmy Award with Tom Kitt for their song, “Bigger” from the 67th Annual Tony Awards. Mr. Miranda, and The Miranda Family, are active supporters of initiatives that increase people of color’s representation throughout the arts and government, ensure access to women’s reproductive health, and promote resilience in Puerto Rico. TV/Film credits include: tick, tick … Boom!, Encanto, Vivo, In the Heights, Hamilton (2021 Emmy Award, Outstanding Variety Special – Pre-Recorded), His Dark Materials, Fosse/Verdon, We The People, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Curb Your Enthusiasm (2018 Emmy Nomination, Guest Actor), Saturday Night Live (2017 Emmy Nomination, Guest Actor), Sesame Street, The Electric Company, House, DuckTales, 200 Cartas, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Moana (2017 Oscar nomination, Grammy Award for Best Original Song) and Mary Poppins Returns. Miranda received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2002. He lives with his family in New York.
As a journalist, author, and empowerment advocate, Gretchen Carlson has paved the way for the #MeToo movement, with her historic 2016 sexual harassment complaint against the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes. Named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” Carlson is one of America’s most successful news anchors, as well as a globally recognized advocate for female empowerment, with her TED Talk on the subject garnering almost 2 million views. She is also the celebrated author of the New York Times bestseller “Be Fierce.”
In December 2019, Carlson founded the organization “Lift Our Voices” with former Fox News colleagues Julie Roginsky and Diana Falzone. Its mission is to end the practice of Non- Disclosure Agreements, confidentiality provisions and forced arbitration clauses that have prevented employees from publicly discussing and disclosing toxic workplace conditions, including sexual harassment and assault. Carlson previously hosted “The Real Story” on Fox News and co-hosted the number-one rated cable morning news show, “Fox and Friends,” for more than seven years. Carlson’s most recent return to television, as host and executive producer of A+E and Lifetime Network documentaries “Breaking The Silence,” “Beyond The Headlines: NXIVM Cult” and “Beyond The Headlines: The College Admissions Scandal.” Her return is a beacon of hope for other brave women demoted, fired or blacklisted from their chosen careers after reporting sexual harassment. Carlson will next produce an interview series with Blumhouse Television. The forthcoming series will see the return of Carlson to the interviewer’s chair, and feature special guests to discuss topical, provocative subject matter, including #MeToo and the movement’s evolution.
In 2016, Carlson became the face of workplace harassment survivors, gracing the covers of Time and Good Housekeeping magazines. Carlson’s book “Be Fierce” debuted in October 2017 and immediately a New York Times bestseller. Her memoir “Getting Real,” published in 2015 was also a best-seller. Profits from “Be Fierce” go to Carlson’s Gift of Courage Fund, which supports organizations empowering women and young girls. This year the fund is providing free workshops to low-income women facing gender-based discrimination and violence through the Gretchen Carlson Leadership Initiative and supporting the March of Dimes’ Gretchen Carlson Advocacy Fellows.
Since her harassment complaint became public, Carlson has worked fearlessly to change laws that protect predators. In December 2017, she joined a bi-partisan coalition of legislators to introduce the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act,” which voids forced arbitrationagreements that prevent sexual harassment survivors from getting their day in court. The bill was reintroduced in the House in February 2019 and Carlson testified before the House Judiciary Committee in May.
An honors graduate of Stanford University, Carlson was valedictorian of her high school class and studied at Oxford University in England. A violin prodigy, she performed as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra at age 13, and in 1989 became the first classical violinist to win the Miss America crown.
Will Reeve is an actor and journalist, as well as a philanthropist who is committed to furthering his parents work to cure paralysis. Reeve is currently a correspondent at ABC News where he appears on all platforms and shows, including Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir, and Nightline. Prior to joining ABC, Will was a correspondent at ESPN and hosted the MSG Hockey Show. Reeve is also an actor who isknown for In the Gloaming (1997), The Brooke Ellison Story (2004) and Everyone’s Hero (2006).
Reeve has served on the Board of Directors for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation since 2013. The Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by advancing innovative research and improving quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis. Christopher Reeve put a human face on spinal cord injury and had an unrelenting drive to pursue the best research in the world. It was his vision, his passion, and his brilliance that attracted young scientists to take on the cause and advance the field of spinal cord research. And while Dana was universally known as the model for caregiving, her real legacy is the creation of the Paralysis Resource Center that has reached
so many of those living with paralysis and their families with life- changing resources. The organization’s mission can be summed up into four words, “Today’s Care. Tomorrow’s Cure.” which reflects the dual purpose set forth by Christopher and Dana to provide a continuum of hope for individuals living with paralysis worldwide.
A long time Greenwich resident and member of the Brunswick School Class of 2010, Reeve graduated from Middlebury College where he received a Bachelor of Arts. He currently resides in New York City.
Eva Longoria Bastón is an award-winning actor, producer, director, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Eva is a committed advocate for gender equality and the representation of women and people of color in the entertainment industry. She is a co-founder of the Time’s Up movement. She founded the Eva Longoria Foundation in 2012 to help Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship. Her entrepreneurial activities include serving as a Global Brand Ambassador for L’Oreal Paris, CEO of UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, fragrances EVA and EVAmour, a New York Times-bestselling cookbook Eva’s Kitchen, and a home collection line with JCPenney. Eva received her master’s degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge, writing her thesis on “Success STEMS from Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers.
Bobby Walker, Jr. is CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich. After graduating from Williams in 1995, Mr. Walker returned to his Texas home at St. Mark’s as a teacher, coach and administrator. After five years as Dean at McDonogh School in MD, he and his wife became Middle School Heads in Southwestern Fairfield County. He held that position at King Low Heywood Thomas in Stamford for 9 years. His wife is the current Head of Middle School at Greenwich Academy. In July 2014, Mr. Walker accepted the role of CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich. This move has allowed him to continue to help young people, some of whom come from backgrounds similar to his, and who are all seeking ways to access life’s greatest opportunities.
Nominated for several Golden Globe and Emmy awards, Ashley Judd received the “Changemaker Award” for her work as the Global Goodwill Ambassador with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). As a feminist and social justice humanitarian, Ashley has been working internationally, with NGO’s, grass roots organizations, governments, and supranational bodies since 2004. In 2018 Ashley was named one of TIME Magazine’s Person of The Year for her activism and leadership in the feminist movement.
Duncan Edwards has been a leader in our educational community and is the current Executive Director for Waterside School. “The School represents courage, determination, and resolve”, Edwards said. Waterside conceived as a model for future efforts, is an independent school in Stamford, CT, serving children and families regardless of limitations in income or circumstances. The School empowers its students with the knowledge, skills and virtues required to enable them to excel as students. GIFF was humbled to honor Duncan Edwards as our 2018 Community Changemaker.
Academy Award-winning actress Renée Zellweger received the “Changemaker Award” for her leadership and support in the search for effective treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), in honor of her dear friend Nanci Ryder, veteran publicist and co-founder of BWR Public Relations who was diagnosed in 2014, as well as her work with the SIMS Foundation, a charitable foundation dedicated to support those in the Austin music industry, suffering from depression and mental health illnesses.
Humanitarian, maternal health advocate and model Christy Turlington Burns received the “Changemaker Award” for her work as Founder & CEO of Every Mother Counts, an organization working toward making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness about the global maternal health crisis and links mothers to providers of essential care, by addressing these three barriers to maternal health: transportation, education, and supplies.
Andrew Niblock is a leader in the educational community and is the current head of the lower school at Greenwich Country Day School. He has inspired thousands of students and instilled in them a love of learning that will last throughout their lives. Andrew was recently diagnosed with ALS and is continuing to inspire his students and the entire community. Andrew has become a committed advocate for the fight against ALS and has demonstrated strength and grace as he confronts this disease. GIFF is humbled to honor Andrew Niblock as our 2017 Community Changemaker.
Accepted the Changemaker Award on behalf of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Accepted the Changemaker Award on behalf of her work and advocacy for Girl Rising.
Accepted the Changemaker Award for founding the Rainforest Fund.
Accepted the Changemaker Award for serving as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Accepted the Changemaker Award for her work with UNICEF.