Michael Taylor has 35 years experience in the media and entertainment industry, served as Chair of Film and Television Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts for 10 years, and currently serves as Executive Director of USC’s Media Institute for Social Change. Taylor also maintains an active career as a producer of theatrical and television films. He produces within the studio system as well as in the independent film arena. Mr. Taylor’s credits include Last Embrace, Bottle Rocket, Phenomenon, The Hi-Line, Instinct, The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, Mrs. Munck, Princess of Thieves, Phenomenon II, The Commuters, and Copying Beethoven.
Among other honors, Taylor is the recipient of an Emmy Award, the National Board of Review Award, the Fourteenth Annual Genesis Award for Outstanding Feature Film, the Santa Clarita International Film Award for best Tele-Feature, the Variety/EDI $100 Million Award and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Executive Director and Founder, USC Media Institute for Social Change at USC School of Cinematic Arts
After winning a student Emmy for technical achievement in 2005 for a local public service announcement, John Berardo ventured to California to begin his career as a director. Before starting the Cinema Production MFA program at USC, John graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a BA in Theatre directing and playwriting. During his time at USC, John has directed, written, and produced projects for CBS, Disney, Vimeo, Armani, a fresh artist Subway webseries, and for various non-profit organizations. John recently directed Strings, produced by James Franco as part of a feature anthology. The Labyrinth is set to release in 2017. After graduating USC, John co-founded the production company, Shatterproof Films, which is currently writing, directing, and producing media content with plans for television and feature development and production. He is currently preparing for the feature film Dembanger, based on USCMISC’s short film he wrote and directed while at USC.
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Desa Philadelphia is a writer, communication strategist and journalist. She is head writer/editor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, responsible for producing communication and development materials about the storied institution¹s 90 year history and innovative curriculum. She began her career at the PBS NewsHour and Time magazine, covering several beats including politics, education policy, business trends and entertainment. She has also provided analysis on politics and entertainment for regional and national television and radio programs, on networks that include NPR, PBS and MSNBC. She is also a founding partner of Language Fish LLC, a communication consulting and translation services firm.
Desa is a graduate of City College of New York (CUNY), where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature; and the University of Southern California, where she earned a Master's in Public Diplomacy. She is the author of 111 Shops in Los Angeles That You Must Not Miss: An exploration of the city’s history and personality through the lens of its retail culture.
Rob Carpenter is a multidisciplinary entrepreneur, writer/producer, speaker, and social activist. He has worked on more than 30 film projects, and has previously worked in the White House; Teach For America; as Professor at Cal State LA; and as LA Transportation Commissioner, overseeing a $150 million dollar budget. Rob has also been a lifelong entrepreneur. He started his first business when he was 9, and as an undergrad launched Students Against Genocide, mobilizing 50,000 college students on 128 campus around the world to protest genocide. He next launched Building LA's Future, which passed ballot Measure R, responsible for generating nearly $10 Billion in Transportation funding so far for Los Angeles County. Rob has also founded and sold an investor backed startup company named as "one of the best websites on the Internet."
Rob has spoken as a keynote speaker at various functions, including TEDx UCLA, and for the I Have A Dream Foundation. He received his BA from Claremont McKenna College, MA from Northwestern University, and is currently working on his doctorate degree at the University of Southern California.
A journalist, researcher, lecturer and filmmaker, Jenna Cavelle brings over fifteen years of experience in multi-media communication with an emphasis on environmental issues within marginalized communities to the USC Media Institute for Social Change. Her work has been published both domestically and internationally in prominent academic journals, magazines, newspapers, and she has lectured and presented her research at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and at various government institutions in Indonesia. Cavelle graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Environmental Science, Policy & Management from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently an MFAc in Film & Television Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, an Annenberg Graduate Fellow, Stronach Baccalaureate Prize Recipient, and served as a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholar at Malang State University in East Java, Indonesia. She speaks fluent Indonesian.
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