The Board of Directors of Alliance of Women Directors (AWD) has named its first Executive Director. This marks the first staff position for AWD which has been an all-volunteer organization dedicated to fostering a community of professionals to advance the art, craft, and visibility of women directors in film, television, and new media for 22 years.
AnnaLea Rawicz Arnold, a Founding Partner of advocacy organization WeForShe, will assume the Executive Director post immediately. Arnold’s hiring comes in light of a surge in AWD membership, which has doubled in size in the last two years to over 350 members due to a widening awareness of the systemic inequalities in the entertainment industry. Women directors are coming together under the umbrella of AWD to enact change on behalf of current and future women directors. As Executive Director, Arnold will be instrumental in crafting plans and successes for the future of the organization and its members, and positively impacting the film and television industry.
“We are thrilled to have AnnaLea join us during this pivotal moment for our organization and our industry as a whole. Her deep commitment to gender equity, representation, and diversity and inclusion coupled with her vision for our strategic growth in programming, development and outreach is just what we need for the future,” said Jennifer Warren, Founder and Chairperson of Alliance of Women Directors.
Arnold will oversee AWD’s growing programs which includes partnerships with NBC (Craft Enrichment Series), CBS (Business of Television), Canon and Fotokem (Works-In-Progress), as well as many internal programs such as their Career Advancement Program, In-House Shadowing, Art of Directing Program, and Fireside Chats with notable directors like Patty Jenkins and Dan Attias.
In addition to working with AWD’s Board, Arnold will interact closely with the Advisory Board which includes Jonathan Frank (Executive Vice President, FX Current Series and FX Productions), Karen Horne (Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development and Inclusion for NBC Entertainment and Universal Television Studios), Marc Guggenheim (Executive Producer and Co-Creator for Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), Wendy Mericle (Jack & Bobby, Eli Stone and Arrow), and Betty Thomas (EMMY winner and prolific producer/director of film and television).
Arnold said, “I am honored by the opportunity to lead Alliance of Women Directors. The members have created a phenomenal hub where women directors can keep their skills fresh, build necessary relationships and enjoy the camaraderie that allows them to endure in an industry that too often tells them they are not welcome. I am looking forward to building on the current momentum to bring AWD to the next level, expand our board, partnerships, and programs and raise the profile of the incredible women directors in our membership.”
In February, AWD was recognized for their efforts on behalf of women directors by the Humanitas Prize when the winners of the documentary category (Gemma Atwal and her writer producer Karen Edwards, Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram) donated their $10,000 cash award to AWD.
AnnaLea is a Founding Partner at WeForShe where she launched their annual WriteHer List and DirectHer Program advocating for over 120 women writers and directors over the past five years. As well, she oversaw the development of the WeForShe Showrunner Salon Series. Arnold has a Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship from USC Marshall and has been a strategic consultant for global brands in diversity and inclusion at Talk to Jess, LLC.