Our Executive Team
FOUNDER | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
NuNu Deng was born in Khartoum, The Sudan; raised in Ames, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Fairfax, Virginia. NuNu attended the prestigious The Theatre School at DePaul University (1998-2000) studying Theatre Management as a Dean's Theatre Studies Scholar and has freelanced in a variety of industries, primarily entertainment and philanthropy.
NuNu is on the advisory board of Chicago based charity Childhood Fractured and was pro-boneau public relations for Village of Hope Tuskegee, a charity founded by the matriarch of the Voting Rights Act, the late Dr. Amelia Boynton-Robinson. She is currently based in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area.
Linda provides program and directional support to the Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (SSHCO), an organization that runs a clinic in a remote area of the country. Linda is a native South Sudanese and came to the US as a refugee in 1994. She is currently an Instructional Designer for the University of Florida.
She has worked on a USAID-funded project advising the government on state-related issues of governance and is very well-connected. Linda previously co-hosted a show on Africa Network Television called “Africa 3000” focusing on Africa’s development issues and the foreseeable future of its economy. She loves the arts and it’s ability to transform culture.
LUAL A DENG
Dr. Deng is an influential South Sudanese speaker, author, and policy expert and has a key role in the National Dialogue as the Coordinator of the Secretariat. He is a member of South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly. He is currently a member of Advisory Group for Sub-Saharan Africa (AGSA) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Managing Director of the Ebony Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS), a non-profit research institution in Juba, South Sudan. He is also a guest speaker at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Deng was educated in Sudan, Egypt and the United States of America, where he obtained respectively Bachelor’s Degree in Economic Statistics from University of Khartoum (1973); Master’s Degree in Biostatistics, University of Alexandria, Egypt (1976); Master’s Degree in Economics, Iowa State University (1982) and Doctorate in Development Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1984). His career has covered teaching, international development, research, and politics: Assistant Professor of Economics (tenure-track) University of Wisconsin Center System (1985-86); Country Economist, African Development Bank (1986-89); Senior Economist, World Bank (1989-1991); Division Chief, Environment and Social Policy, African Development Bank; Economic Advisor to Dr. John Garang (2003-05); State Minister of Finance (2005-10) and Minister of Petroleum (2010-11) in the Government of National Unity of The Sudan. Dr. Deng is also the author of The Power of Creative Reasoning – The Ideas and Vision of John Garang and Rethinking African Development: Toward A Framework for Social Integration and Ecological Harmony.
Chris Hanley is best known for producing landmark films with independent spirit and popular reach which include Spring Breakers (2012), American Psycho (2000), and The Virgin Suicides (1999). They are often breakthrough films for the artists involved as well as items of enduring cultural value. The 38 produced titles over Hanley's 23 year career cover an array of genres and include two documentaries features (Oliver Stone's South of the Border (2009) and Castro in Winter (2012)) and the Showtime docuseries The Untold History of the United States (2012). Hanley was educated in English literature and philosophy (philosophy of the mind, artificial intelligence, mathematical physics) at Amherst College and Oxford for additional coursework. Hanley was a visiting scholar in philosophy at Columbia University and did postgraduate studies at the Rockefeller Institute in mathematics. His storied career has encompassed music, art and film. Hanley founded Muse Productions with his wife Roberta Hanley in 1991 and splits his time between residences in Los Angeles, Joshua Tree and Lamu, Kenya.
Sam Lukudu is a South Sudanese filmmaker and entrepreneur based in Juba, with a decade-long experience in film and media. He has a Master’s degree in filmmaking from Kingston University, London, and a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media from Daystar University, Nairobi. Sam has written and produced a number of short screenplays and fiction films, alongside a number of short documentaries about his country.
In South Sudan, he is well known for his award-winning short film ‘Zawaja Gali’, which he wrote and produced in the year 2016. Sam was the first South Sudanese filmmaker to represent his country in two international film festivals in 2017 – In the United States (Silicon Valley African Film Festival – SVAFF), and Nigeria (Africa International Film Festival – AFRIFF). He recently founded ‘611 Film Festival’, an initiative scheduled to take place in July of every year beginning 2020 in Juba, with the aim of screening high quality South Sudanese short films and content, produced and co-produced by ‘611 Films’ (one of a number of companies co-founded and run by Sam Lukudu).
Firmly believing Art to be an environment that both nurtures and protects; I approach this most sacred place with reverence, and through my creative works, pay homage to the deity that sustains the human soul. I am a lecturer, actor, author, theatre and movie director and performance and installation artist based in Milan. I am also a trained interpreter for the International Commission for Refugees in Milan, Monza and Brescia. I have followed two Masters Programs in Social Interpreting by ITC Rome 2015 and 2019. A naturalised Italian of Nigerian origin; I have a degree in “active theatre” 1999 to 2005 and worked with
“Compagnia del Novecento” of Milan in the same period as part of the program. Additionally, in 2013/2014 I followed a Masters Program in Social Theatre Writing at Accademia Dei Filodrammatici. I have worked for IOM (International Organization for Migration) “Aware Migrants” campaign program, directing a film (Granma) that toured over one hundred countries. I have toured different countries both in Europe and Africa (Italy, France, Germany/Nigeria) as part of the Promotional/Campaign program on the IOM film promotion platform.
I have worked with different directors both in television, cinema and the theatre, and have written and directed many plays in important theatres in the Italian theatrical panorama. Winning a number of awards, my works often focus on different social themes including war, migration and the environment. I utilize everyday items to re-create enduring symbols.
Maurizio Pisani is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Seeyousound Music Film Experience, the first music film festival network in Italy. He is also an Artistic Consultant at the Italian National Museum of Cinema.
Ron Hansford, a native New Yorker, with over two decades of experience as creative director for set design and the fabrication industry. His event design and production management skills covers a diverse variety of platforms and disciplines. Driven by the marriage of branding concepts and the mechanics of spatial construction, his eye for environmental installations led him to be involved with some of the most prominent events and celebrated projects nationally. Ron’s work has appeared in multiple publications internationally and his unique artistry has guided his career to include fashion shoots, events, music videos and environmental design.
Siaka Massaquoi was born in Rochester, New York and raised in Evanston, Illinois: a Chicago suburb renown for its arts community, open thinking and education. Siaka, originally a history major, stumbled into acting. Upon graduation, he studied at Act One Studios and the famed Steppenwolf Theater. Since moving to Los Angeles, Siaka has kept his love for the stage alive by performing in VACANCY, WOMEN OF MANHATTAN, and Amiri Baraka’s DUTCHMAN which was staged by Levy Lee and also performed at the annual AFRICAN-AMERICAN PLAY FESTIVAL in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Siaka recently returned from filming PROVIDENCE ISLAND, directed by Roger Bob, starring Vivica A. Fox and Lisa Wu; recently featured on FOX’s LETHAL WEAPON, COMEDY BANG BANG; and the critically received WHEN KIDS GROW UP. He is currently working on the adapting John Howard Griffin’s BLACK LIKE ME for the big screen; motivational speaking to children on the importance of following their dramas and not acting on their fears.
Rob Harris has been a film publicist for thirty-five years. He is a three-time nominee for the Publicists Guild’s highest honour, the Les Mason Award for lifetime achievement. Harris is a full voting member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). He is the author of three memoirs, The Hannibal Journals, Unexposed Film: A Year on Location, and the upcoming The Trouble with Love in the Movies.He has been a supporter of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, which helps homeless and poor children in Vietnam and Mongolia. He lives in England with his wife, journalist-publicist Nicola Graydon Harris.
Rob is currently a Professor of Acting at The Theatre School at DePaul University and University of Southern California‘s School Of Dramatic Arts. Rob Adler is a an internationally recognized expert in improvisational acting. He specializes in teaching actors how to get out of their head and bring spontaneity, presence and play to theatre, film & television scripts so well-prepared performances look improvised. He is an actor, director, teacher and the founder of the AdlerImprov Studio in Hollywood, a coach for actors, directors and production companies like Lionsgate, Disney, FOX, NBC and ABC and notably on national television as the on-air acting coach for Disney’s High School Musical: Get in the Picture, he writes a regular column offering expert advice to actors for Backstage.
Masha was Born in Baku, Azerbaijan. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she has worked with several multidisciplinary design studios where she played an integral role in creating visual identity systems for clients such as AT&T and XEROX from concept to design, as well Communication Arts award winning museum exhibition From Memory to Action at the United States Holocaust Museum.
As an independent designer she continues to collaborate with UC Berkeley, having created visual identity systems for sustainable architecture design competition and DeNovo Group, a collaboration between scientists at UC Berkeley and Stanford dedicated to turning novel university research into applicable technological solutions to address the needs of deserving communities in developing regions. Most recently she has created Information Architecture and User Experience for the National Museums of Kenya collection portal.
Vanja Srdic is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, producer and technical director with more than twelve years of experience in the entertainment industry. His expertise is technical and creative management, direction and production of digital film screening presentations at multi-venue film festivals and other events. As an owner of Frame House Media, Vanja runs a creative team specializing in video production, website design and digital content delivery.
Nirav Mehta is a critically acclaimed, award winning actor, producer and humanitarian artist from India. He is best known for his Bollywood films and has quickly become one of Hollywood’s sought-after talents. Nirav is known for his ingenious ways of making conscious choices in bridging the East and the West through the world of Film & TV.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ADVISOR
As a university student in Silicon Valley, Camilla was discovered by a fashion agent and has since worked as an international model for renowned luxury designers such as Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Escada, Oscar de la Renta, Tommy Hilfiger, Tiffany’s and is also remembered for her standout appearance in Season 3 of the Emmy Award winning Project Runway show on Bravo TV network.
Camilla is a proponent of the African Union’s Charter for African Cultural Renaissance and its relevance in improving the socioeconomic status of African people in the African diaspora and on the continent. Camilla currently serves as strategic advisor for private sector development & celebrity outreach for Pathway to Solutions, a United Nations special project under the auspices of UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed designed to popularize the SDGs in the African diaspora, and on the continent.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ADVISOR
Rolf Hajek, a Norwegian citizen based out of the United Arab Emirates, has been producing investment reports world-wide for 15 years that have been published in NYT, International NYT, Fortune, Time, Newsweek, CNBC Business magazine and Hurun Report of China. In 2015 he worked on a report on Uganda, one of the strongest supporters of South Sudan and has had a soft spot for East African people and culture ever since.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ADVISOR
Sommer Lawal is a Nigerian-American Strategist, Analyst, Digital Advertiser and writer based in Los Angeles, originally from St. Louis. A published writer at age 9 and Narrator of UNICEF World Choir helping children at an early age, she raised awareness for endangered species in Africa through Greenpeace. As a former D1 nationally-ranked Track & Field State Champion, she continues to teach children by coaching basketball camps, dance and cheerleading. She served as Sponsorship Chair for Pharrell Wiliams’ Kidult.com Youth Leadership Conference in 2010. In 2017 she served as an Analytics instructor while on the Strategy Team at Team One (Saatchi & Saatchi/Publicis Groupe - Lexus account) for Crenshaw Core - a community outreach program providing small business owners with data resources. In 2019, she produced a winning campaign for the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council to address safer streets, economic development and create shelter and jobs on Skid Row.
Sommer studied Creative Writing and Film at Miami University (Ohio) with a minor in Advertising/Marketing. Sommer leveraged her interests to begin a career as an intern, leading to TV Research Analyst at FX, and has since worked in Research and Analytics client side at Disney Interactive Media Group, NBC Universal (E!, Esquire), and agency side at Saatchi & Saatchi, Universal McCann and MediaCom Worldwide. Throughout her 19-year career across Strategy, Research, Analytics, Digital Media Planning and Ad Buying, she’s launched/supported client campaigns for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Summit Entertainment, Toyota, Lexus, Adidas and Sony PlayStation - among several brands/clients/market segments in the digital media ad tech space.
CARRIE ANN MANTHA
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ADVISOR
Dr. Carrie Mantha is the founder and managing director of Aporia Capital, a Nordic focused life science investment fund. A scientist by background and physician by training, she is an experienced investor and company builder with a passion for unlocking potential in people, places, and technologies.
A former Miss Florida USA, Dr. Mantha is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Florida where she was a conference-champion equestrienne. She earned a medical degree from the University of Miami as well as a master’s in business administration from Auburn University. Dr. Mantha lives in Oslo, Norway and is an avid supporter of film and emerging artists, being a frequent attendee of the Cannes, Sundance, and Tribeca film festivals.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ADVISOR
Michael is a highly-awarded architect whose numerous transformative and creative projects across Australia have reﬂected his progressive, engaging and innovative approach to managing client, consultant and community relationships. Since leaving university Michael has continued to work closely with communities to develop and realize numerous projects, including university masterplans, strategic local government plans, corporate activation projects and numerous arts and educational works. Michael’s work within the global art sector includes spearheading large-scale contemporary African art exhibitions, developing art fair engagement as well as providing logistic and sales support for a number of international galleries and collectors. Michael has developed long lasting partnerships with numerous local, state and national governments as well as airlines, hotels, development firms and allied arts associations. Michael, as Director of Gallery TINY continues to establish Harlem, NY as the touchstone for American engagement with Africa utilizing the global contemporary art sector as a platform for discovery, debate and connection.