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We seek to level the playing field...

Our mission

Empower the next generation of filmmakers

Chicago's historical and systemic lack of inclusion restricts new and emerging creatives. We seek to level the playing field by providing resources for hyper-local connection, instruction, learning and career advancement. Through our programming, we ensure women and non-binary filmmakers of color can actively participate in Chicago's bustling media production scene.

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special thanks to our mezcla supporters

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Grayish blue shape with white text reading Skill Scout

Who We Are


Elena helped start Mezcla and served as Board President until November 2023. Elena was named HR Superhero by DisruptHR Chicago and was a part of the 2020 Newcity Film 50 list. She is CEO of Skill Scout where she has created videos for clients like Nike, McDonalds, and American Airlines.

Colette amplifies Mezcla’s reach and recognition by championing the organization throughout the field; she also supports the Leadership Circle in strategic decisions. As part of the Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator Program and the 2020 BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, she is directing Traces of Home, her first feature-length film documenting her journey back to Mexico and Palestine to locate her parents' original homes, which they were forced to leave decades ago. Colette's work has been highlighted on international outlets such as Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, Univision, and TEDx. She was named 2020 Filmmaker of the Moment by Newcity’s Chicago Film 50 List and was listed on Arab America’s “30 Under 30” list.

Meet the Leadership Circle

Interim Executive Director

Naeema fundraises and strategizes to get more resources for the greater Mezcla community. Naeema currently works as an independent producer and director, managing the production of short content for production companies and nonprofits, as well as developing and producing independent documentary projects in Chicagoland and beyond. Her work has screened at a number of festivals, including New Orleans Film Festival, San Francisco Doc Fest and St. Louis International Film Festival. She is also an educator and has worked as an adjunct lecturer in film at Northwestern University and DePaul University.

Director of Operations

Kenyetta works internally with the Executive Director and coordinators to manage tasks and create systems that allow Mezcla to run smoothly. She is a filmmaker and organizer from the Southside of Chicago with a passion for storytelling. Kenyetta has worked with entities such as Full Spectrum Features as an Associate Producer and is a member of the Reservoir Collective, a mutual-aid collective established by and for Black artists to pool funds to financially and creatively support Black Queer, Trans, and/or disabled artists in completing their artistic projects.

Director of Community

Regina focuses on bringing filmmaking resources to Mezcla through meaningful programs and partnerships. She is a freelance filmmaker and has served as a grant writer for several upcoming documentaries such as Traces of Home, Searching for Onoda, Love is a Stranger, BAPSI and more. She is working on the Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project as their Impact Coordinator and as Full Spectrum Features’ Community Development Specialist. Her DP debut was for a puppet satire called Beverly Hills and is currently in post-production.

Communications Manager

Alicia informs Mezcla members of upcoming opportunities, programming, and resources through social media and digital communications. She is a documentary filmmaker and DP of the Filipinx diaspora exploring identity, memory, and intergenerational healing through the lens of the personal. Alicia is an Associate Producer for the docuseries Chicago Stories, produced by WTTW/PBS. She was an inaugural member of the Video Consortium’s Sony Mentorship Program. Alicia’s most recent documentary Of the Heart (2022) is a personal essay film that reveals the spiritual threads that connect mother and daughter.

Grant Coordinator

Tamarra helps Mezcla thrive by finding, writing, and applying to grants that support our staff and programming. Her specialties include impact producing, grant writing, diversity and inclusion, equality training in the workplace, and amplifying voices through storytelling. She takes pride in her ability to leverage her expertise and knowledge to drive positive change and create a lasting impact. 

Board Members

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Patrick Dal
CEO & Owner, Banner Collective
Abby Cheesman
Co-Founder, Skillscout
Elena Valentine
Chair & President
Co-Founder & CEO, Skillscout
Paula Froehle
Vice Chair & President
Executive Director, Chicago Media Project
Jessica Tolliver
Mezcla Media Representative
Freelance Filmmaker & Cinematographer