Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt has used her degree in Professional and Technical Communication from Rochester Institute of Technology for a diverse range of work in the field of humanities and arts. Since 2007, Nicole has been the Executive Director of Spark Media Project (formerly Children’s Media Project). As Executive Director of Spark, Nicole works to support a large number of youth, community organizations and local businesses with Spark workshops, exhibitions, and production services. Prior to working at Spark, Nicole was the Director of Communication and Individual Donor Relations at Women’s Studio Workshop, an Ulster County arts organization, for five years. Before that, in 1997, Nicole was a project manager for Long Island Progressive Coalition and she co-founded her own nonprofit organization (Phoenix Action Network) that published creative and community oriented materials; publications included national magazines such as The Movement, X-Press Magazine; and Kids’ Beat Magazine—a Hudson Valley magazine written by and for kids. As Executive Director of Spark, she is responsible for organization-wide leadership and direction, fundraising and community outreach. She is a recipient of a 2012 Forty Under 40 award for young “movers and shakers”. Nicole is also a member of the Media Smart Libraries National Advisory Board.
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos
Director of Education
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos, MA, MPS, has over a decade of experience as an educator engaging a vast range of humanity, from prisoners to preschoolers, from homeless teens to blue-chip senior executives. As Director of Education at Spark Media Project, she develops and oversees design, implementation, and assessment of media-rich interdisciplinary curricula across all Spark’s programs, in addition to managing and advising teaching teams and teaching her own courses in media/digital literacies and multimedia production for colleges, secondary schools, and libraries. At Spark, she founded Radio Uprising, Spark’s youth-produced radio program, which since 2008 has been broadcasting weekly on 91.3fm WVKR, where she also serves as the independent radio station’s Executive Administrator. In addition to her work at Spark and WVKR, Mary Ellen is also an award-winning independent scholar of literature, media, and popular culture. Her paper at the Whedon studies Association 2012 conference the prestigious Best Paper Award (known as the Mr. Pointy Award), and most recently, she won the Northeastern MLA Women/Gender Studies Best Paper prize for her 2014 conference paper. Her writing on dystopian narratives, disability studies, auteur theory and transmedia storytelling has been published in several volumes of pop-culture criticism. She is currently co-editor of an anthology on representations of race and ethnicity in the works of Joss Whedon, forthcoming from McFarland Publishers, as well as a edited essay collection entitled Vexing Gender: Convention and Contravention in Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Writing.
Head of Production
Kyle is a Hudson Valley-born filmmaker. He’s a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas who’s been working professionally in the film industry for a decade. Kyle has written and directed several short films. Kyle also has vast experience in improvisational theater, training and performing in New York City and Las Vegas. Prior to his time here at Spark Media Project, he worked with children and teens in an after school improv group to help teach them life skills. He’s thrilled to integrate his love of storytelling, media, and education into Spark’s programs.
Media Teaching Artist
Paul Thompson, a resident of Beacon, NY, has actively worked in the film industry since graduating from The College of Saint Rose. Paul has produced interest pieces and short documentaries for Hudson Valley businesses and the Westchester Library System. Paul previously worked as an employment specialist where he was responsible for providing individuals with disabilities the necessary skills to obtain and maintain employment. Paul intends to utilize his B.A in broadcast and film, experience in human services and video production to assist in creating a growing, creative and expressive environment.
Sarah Weikel joined Spark Media Project as the Development Associate in 2016. Sarah brings to Spark her experience developing winning fundraising campaigns and her background in grant writing, event planning, database management and donor stewardship. Prior to joining Spark, Sarah worked in programming, marketing and development at several local nonprofits including Cerebral Palsy of Ulster County, Historic Huguenot Street, and the Newburgh Free Library. Sarah holds her BA and MA in English Literature from SUNY New Paltz, and is currently working to receive her CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) certification. Sarah serves on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals: Mid Hudson Valley Chapter, the CP Inspire Foundation Board, the event committee for the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern NY, and is a grant review volunteer for the United Way of the Dutchess Orange Region.
Our teaching artists bring a wealth of classroom and media experience to the learning environment, as well as a firm knowledge of pedagogical best-practices. They inspire and engage our youth from the moment they enter the learning space to well beyond the time they leave.
Will grew up in Harlem, Manhattan for all of his life until he moved to Poughkeepsie about 9 years ago. He likes to draw, enjoys graphic design, music, and mostly anything having to do with art. Which is a coincidence, because his last name is Artist. As well, he is a gamer, but that is a whole different arena. Will is a very nice and approachable person and anyone can talk to him about anything. He also enjoys helping people and enjoys seeing people benefit from his help. He enjoys having a good time with other people at all times.
John graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor degree in Media Production. Film has been a major influence on John. He grew up watching canonical classics like Star Wars, The Goonies, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and over time his interests in film expanded, taking a liking to the works of Terrance Malick, David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Werner Herzog, and many others. John is attracted to magical realism and the mysterious and unknown aspects of life; in college, his final project was a short documentary film about strange folklore and the mystical nature of the Shawangunk Ridge, past and present. He is currently working on a follow up Web Series based on that film. John loves breaking boundaries in film genres and experimenting with conventional limitations. He is passionate about DIY filmmaking, and strongly believes we are entering a media Renaissance. John is so grateful to be a member of the Spark Media Project team and is excited to grow and learn with his peers and students.
Matthew L Perez earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Film from Full Sail University. Upon completion of a post-undergraduate internship at AbelCine Equipment Rental House in NYC, he founded his own freelance videography business, and has been working successfully as a professional media producer for the past five years. He is a well versed Steadicam Owner/Operator and Camera Assistant, as well as a proud member of the Steadicam Operator’s Association (SOA). His production credits include pieces for American Idol, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Veteran Artist Program, and over fifty independent films and commercials for Hudson-Valley based businesses. His reel is available at www.steadi-matt.com.
Lawrence S. Sealy has worked for Spark for about 8 years as a Lead Media Educator, working with children on an array of movies, PSAs, animations, and video poems. He was educated at SUNY New Paltz and Fordham University in History and Communications. He has spent many years as head of Hip Hop Theatre and as a Teacher/Media Educator in the Poughkeepsie district. Mr. Sealy has worked full time as a filmmaker and photographer all over the country. He spent time working for NBC and The New York Daily News as a video reporter and editor. Lawrence absolutely loves media and the work that he does with the youth of this community, and hopes to continue to do great work through this partnership between the Poughkeepsie district and Spark Media Project.
Dylan Scott graduated from Bennington College in 2014 with a focus in Theater and Literature. He has been working with kids professionally since 2010 as an improv and writing teacher. He likes roleplaying games, books and movies about wonder and triumph, music that sounds like a soundtrack to your super cool life, critical discussion of media, and pictures of small dogs (especially pugs). He likes working at Spark because it provides him with the opportunity to help people learn.
Sarah Timberlake Taylor graduated from Bard College where she majored in Film Production. She served as a line producer and assistant editor on the award-winning film Persistence of Vision by documentarian Kevin Shreck, Sarah recently was the production manager for Verna Gillis’s one-woman-show Tales from Geriassic Park: On the Verge of Extinction during it’s runs at Fringe NYC and the United Solo Theater Festival. Sarah also works at TMI Project, a non-profit organization offering transformative memoir workshops that culminate in empowering performances, bringing her production skills and expertise to these events and performances. Currently she is making art with a group of friends through a Creative Accountability salon that they established together to foster a sense of conversation, play, and mutual cooperation within their work. Sarah is looking forward to being a part of that same dynamic within the 21st Century Program at Spark.
Gaye Mallet, President
Human Resources Director, Adams Fairacre Farms
Dean Temple, Vice President
Creative Director, Drake Creative LLC
Mark Malone, Treasurer
Vice President, Rhinebeck Bank
Sabrina Schutzsmith, Co-treasurer
CoFounder, Poughworking; Managing Partner, Digital Empire
Doris Diaz-Kelly, Secretary
Assistant Dean of Students & Director, Educational Opportunity Program, DCC
Lorenzo Angelino, Co-secretary
Lawyer, Law Offices of Lorenzo L. Angelino
Richard DuVall, Esq.
Past President, Attorney, McCabe & Mack LLP
Retired Teacher, Special Education
Diane Cicatello, MD
Pediatrician, Mount Kisco Medical Group
Judy Elkin, LMSW
Ass’t Vice President Rondout Savings Bank
Director of Development Research, Marist College Advancement Office
Career Coach, Center Career & Entrepreneurial Services, DCCC
Sr. Dir., Regulatory Affairs, Pfizer, Inc.
Independent Producer for NPR
Dean of the College for Campus Activities
Angela R. Signor
Director of Media Design, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce
IBM Watson Program Manager
Academic Advisor/Project Coordinator, Marist College