Odyssey Impact™ is a team of exceptional film and social justice professionals who believe that powerful documentaries can motivate people to do great things. We strategically build and execute social impact campaigns around award-winning documentaries to inspire people of all faiths and good will to engage with their communities on important issues in their lives. Read our mission here.
Our commitment to helping build a better society through driving awareness, change in attitude and action has been fundamental throughout our history. The work we do with Transform Films, an independent film production company, and their award-winning documentaries, created by independent filmmakers, on the topics of mass incarceration, gender inequality and other social issues has had an impact on communities across the nation. Several of these have been dubbed best documentaries by numerous high profile outlets. Here are some of our projects.
PRESIDENT AND CEO
“If all people said was ‘great film’ but did nothing [about a social issue], then we have failed,” says Odyssey Impact’s CEO and visionary Nick Stuart. He’s talking about the organization’s mission of social impact beyond just making great documentary films. It’s a role that he calls “a calling, not a job” and it’s the culmination of a lifetime of experience in mainstream television news and entertainment production on both sides of the Atlantic, from BBC to Discovery. His prior experience with traditional media outlets allowed him to explore current issues, but not prompt action afterwards.
On his arrival, Stuart masterminded a wholesale shift in Odyssey from an interfaith cable TV network to a documentary-filmmaking and coalition-building organization that facilitates change via telling stories of spirituality making a difference in people’s everyday lives, no matter the religion. He cites instances where progress would never have been made without faiths working together, such as in “The Troubles,” Northern Ireland, a story he covered extensively for the UK’s largest network, ITV. He says, “Below the surface, there were priests and ministers working to build trust. A Catholic priest and a Protestant minister would work together when someone got killed; they would call on the widow or family of the dead person and offer pastoral care and healing. These were ordinary people, not superheroes, and they weren’t looking for the limelight. Priests also served as go-betweens among the Irish government, the IRA, and the British government.” He also cites the example of faith leaders collaborating with secular activists in South Africa to end apartheid. He continues, “They went into that poisonous space and when things were collapsing around them, managed to hold that country together, playing a part and helping to solve an ‘unsolvable’ problem.”
Odyssey works to take films back into the communities represented as well as to other nonprofits and organizations to continue the conversation on a person-to-person level, even among constituencies that disagree radically. In the case of the film “MILWAUKEE 53206,” about families left behind in a zip code of Milwaukee where 62% of adult Black men are currently in prison or have served time, a local screening and discussion was met with lines around the block.
In generating these outcomes of change, British-born Stuart brings a background of looking at world events and human stories via the role of faith, from his early days at British TV network ITV through time as an MTV producer, as a BAFTA judge, at the Discovery Channel, and in various BBC posts. His experience varies from creating a comedic religious game show to reporting from the front lines of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the end of apartheid in South Africa and the rise of Hamas.
A filmmaker must also deal in trust. The subjects of Odyssey’s films know that they’ll be portrayed as real people, not tokens. He reflects, “We deal with the stuff of people’s souls.
DIRECTOR OF ADVANCEMENT
Ann has been a fundraising professional for over 20 years. As a mission focused professional, Ann has successfully raised millions for organizations such as The United Way, YMCA, Audubon and a private school. Through inspirational partnerships with volunteers, staff and organizations, Ann has managed Annual Fund Campaigns, Capital Campaigns, Festivals, Golf Tournaments, Lectures, Galas and securing transformative million dollar gifts from individuals and foundations. Ann received her BA from Assumption College and a Masters in Education from Cambridge College.
Kirsten is an Impact Producer for Odyssey Impact, overseeing development and production of long- and short-form documentaries and impact film production. She is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and her recent film, The Homestretch, a feature documentary about homeless high school students in Chicago Public Schools, was a co-production with Kartemquin Films and Spargel Productions, her company with film partner Anne de Mare. The Homestretch was broadcast on PBS Independent Lens as part of the American Graduate Initiative with Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS. Previous film projects include the award-winning Asparagus! Stalking the American Life and the upcoming The Girl With the Rivet Gun – an animated new media project about Rosie the Riveter.
Her work has been supported by the ITVS, CPB, AmDoc, MacArthur Foundation, the Sundance Institute, Fledgling Fund, Chicken and Egg, Good Pitch and Bertha Foundation/Brit Docs. She was recently awarded the ‘2015 Spirit of Youth Award” from the National Runaway Safeline for her advocacy work supporting homeless youth surrounding the The Homestretch Impact Campaign. Kirsten is also a theatre director and arts educator and was awarded the President’s 2014 Award for Youth Programs in the Arts & Humanities. She has a diverse background in developing new content for both film and theater which focuses on social justice issues and worked several years on National Geographic’s Explorer series.
Kirsten is a Fellow at the Sundance Documentary Institute and a graduate of the Master’s Directing program at The Juilliard School.
Lily joined the Odyssey Impact team in 2017. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Global Liberal Studies with a concentration in Politics, Rights and Development from New York University. Prior to joining Odyssey, Lily worked on the impact campaign for the documentary Disturbing the Peace, focusing specifically on educational outreach and partnerships. She also has experience working in community organizing and advocacy, and is proud to have held internship positions at The Institute for the Study of Genocide and New York’s Urban Justice Center.
HEAD OF PROGRAMMING
CarolAnne, who is responsible for development of new factual specials and series, has a diverse background in factual television. She’s worked in many genres including history, investigative docs, reality, pop culture, biography, wildlife and adventure, and on subject matter as diverse as shark attacks, crime bosses and how to plan the perfect wedding. She has had success as a network executive, garnering high ratings and awards. CarolAnne has also worked on the production side of the business, creating successful programs for major cable networks. Prior to joining Odyssey, she was Vice President of Development and Production at WEtv, where she was responsible for a variety of programs such as The Secret Lives of Women and My Fair Wedding With David Tutera. CarolAnne was Executive Producer at NHNZ in New Zealand, where she created shows for National Geographic Channel, Bio Channel, Animal Planet and Discovery, among others. She was Vice President of Documentary Series at A&E Television and also served as executive producer of the Biography series. During her tenure at the helm of Biography, the series won numerous awards, including two Emmys, and was consistently the highest rated series on the network. CarolAnne began her TV career at National Geographic Television, acquiring documentary films for the weekly series Explorer.
Head of Social Impact and Communications
Using film, technology, entertainment and new media as a catalyst for social change, Melissa C. Potter is at the forefront of impact innovation. As Head of Social Impact and Communications for Odyssey Impact and Transform Films, she has engaged communities across the nation in dialogue around today’s most pressing social justice issues, uplifting the voices and lived experiences of our nation’s diverse and oft-underrepresented populations. Take, for example, her 2018 NAACP Image Award nomination as Impact Producer for the film “The Rape of Recy Taylor.”
Through her work, Melissa creates a platform for diverse voices to be heard in traditional media spaces. Melissa has been an Impact Producer on several documentary and short-form pieces that focus specifically on the issues of criminal justice, sexual and gender-based violence, and urban gun violence. These films and videos have gone on to much acclaim worldwide, including: winner of Best Documentary Short 2018 at the Tribeca Film Festival; winner of the Peabody Award 2018; and winner of Prize for Human Rights at the Venice Film Festival.
In addition to creating inclusive spaces in digital and new media, Melissa is focused on using technology to foster sustainable social impact in underserved communities nationwide. In the past year, she has coordinated over 200 screenings of “Milwaukee 53206,” a documentary which tells the story of the ZIP code in America with the highest rate of incarcerated African American males. These screenings have served as the catalyst for national campaigns, as well as the formation of prison ministries, community coalitions and reentry and support programs. Melissa believes that diverse storytelling can inspire empathy, awareness and action nationwide.
Prior to her work with Odyssey, she focused on entertainment and advocacy. Potter has worked in public relations with chart-topping entertainment figures such as The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, and Grandmaster Flash as a freelance publicist, with Catalyst Group, and Coolhunters and partnered with Amazon, Audible, Scholastic, and Netflix with Think Big… Think You!, always building a philanthropic dimension into her work, an outgrowth of her own interests in bettering the world around her.
She built lasting awareness of issues while at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and ACLU. But it was not until she joined Odyssey Impact that she was able to combine these fields with the new dimension of follow-up among the public as well as policy-makers in the type of long-term social impact campaigns which she now coordinates, going beyond simply releasing media to actually introducing those with various roles to play in discussion. “I hope that we can now build a community of engaged supporters, including those in the entertainment space,” she says, ever making connections.
DIRECTOR OF FAITH-BASED COALITIONS
Anne Faustin has over a decade of experience in strategic planning and development in both the private and non-profit sectors. She previously served as the Outreach Producer for Bring It to The Table a Talking Eyes Media documentary where she identified and cultivated relationships with colleges, universities, prospect funders, and national organizations in the civil discourse space. Additionally, Anne served as the Strategic Development Consultant for the Ciné Institute, where she created a five year strategic development plan that addressed the short, and long term development goals of the film Institute. Anne served as a Working Group Consultant at the Clinton Global Initiative where she was responsible for building and leading a working group of thought leaders focused on health and wellness in the United States. She has also served as a Regional Vice President and Senior Professional Relations Representative in the Healthcare sector. Anne was born in Brussels, Belgium, and grew up in New York. She graduated from New York Medical College with a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Policy and Management and from Manhattanville College with a BA in Management. Anne received her Certificate in Television and Film Producing at NYU.
David A. Dreilinger is a senior media and entertainment executive with proven leadership qualities and broad experience in large and small, public and private company environments. In addition to being COO of Odyssey Impact, he is currently CEO and Managing Director of Ducksoup Media Enterprises LLC, a consulting firm providing both business and legal services to the entertainment, media and communications industry. DME partners with distribution, production and content creation companies and their CEO’s in all media to provide individually tailored solutions for their businesses. Its projects have included, among many others, creating business analyses and strategic plans for multi-media organizations, concluding a complex deal licensing the motion picture rights in a major theatrical property, structuring the development of a cross-platform licensing property, and resolving a long-outstanding dispute among the creators of one of the iconic motion pictures of the last 25 years. Before founding Ducksoup Media Enterprises, Mr. Dreilinger was President and CEO of Lightworks Enterprises, Inc., an integrated television and motion picture production and distribution company, for which he created the strategic plan. Previously, Mr. Dreilinger was President and Chief Executive Officer of Unapix Entertainment, Inc., an American Stock Exchange-listed film, television, home entertainment and music production and distribution company, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Prior to Unapix, he was Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs and a member of the Board of Directors of BBC Worldwide Americas, Inc., handling all of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s business operations throughout the Western Hemisphere. Before joining the BBC, Mr. Dreilinger was Head of Business and Legal Affairs and a member of the core management team of D.L. Taffner, Ltd., the privately-held worldwide entertainment company responsible for the importation and distribution of such projects as Three’s Company, Too Close For Comfort and, Rumpole of the Bailey. Prior to that, Mr. Dreilinger was Vice President and General Counsel of Viacom, having the distinction of being the youngest in its history. Mr. Dreilinger has been an Adjunct Professor of Entertainment Law at the Syracuse University College of Law and is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He earned a Masters of Laws in Taxation from the New York University School of Law and is a cum laude graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University.
HEAD OF PROGRAMMING
Michelle has served as Production Manager and Line Producer on projects for the likes of BBC World, ITV, Channel 4, History Channel, The Learning Channel, VH1 and HGTV.com before joining Odyssey Networks in April 2011 to work with the expanding short form production department. With over ten years in production on both sides of the Atlantic, Michelle has been involved with the production and delivery of over 100 hours of broadcast network and cable television in genres as varied as documentary, reality, games shows, live debates and comedy and has served as Line Producer for all the Odyssey feature length programming.
Ruby graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Fordham University and has been part of the Odyssey team since 2014 and is now the Data Manager. Prior to Odyssey, she worked at the New York Public Library and also interned with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Her interests include painting, reading and going out for long nature walks.
OFFICE MANAGER/EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
Nancy Dionne is a documentary filmmaker, associate producer and award-winning photojournalist from San Francisco. Her focus is to take one “to a threshold” by producing stories that create possibilities for envisioning a better future. The word “Future” is in most of her personal projects.
She says that “A good film shows you what something or someone looks like but a great film shows you what it feels like to be that someone else.”
No matter what her task at Odyssey, she connects people together to inspire calls to action that foster change for new future outcomes.
Nancy graduated on the Deans List from the New York Film Academy’s intensive documentary program and with honors in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute.
Looking for an event that will educate and inspire? Let us help you organize a screening of one of our film’s at your place of worship, organization or company! Whether you’re looking for internal activities to boost corporate social responsibility, engagement, or educating your audience on various social issues, we can help! When you host a screening we provide you with resources such as promotional materials to help you market the event, discussion guides to help lead conversations and more! Click here to get in touch with our screenings strategist.
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