Brooklyn Heights

St. Francis College to celebrate Women’s History Month

February 26, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Professional author, advocate and photographer Alyscia Cunningham. Photos courtesy of St. Francis College

Events Include Film Festival, Special Lectures

St. Francis College celebrates Women’s History Month with a full slate of free events that feature successful women in politics, the film industry and the arts.

 The month begins with a Women in Government symposium moderated by former state Assemblymember Joan Millman, new Scholar in Residence at St. Francis College. Millman will welcome state Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and state Sen. Roxanne Persaud for the launch of a new lecture series on Thursday, March 3 at 11:10 a.m. in the college’s Maroney Forum for Arts, Culture & Education (Room 7402 at 180 Remsen St.).

The following week, on Monday, March 7 at 12:20 p.m. in the Maroney Forum, professional author, advocate and photographer Alyscia Cunningham will speak about embracing our natural beauty. Cunningham will point out the distinctions between the natural beauty each of us has within vs. societal and external measures of beauty and worth. Her talk is part of the college’s yearlong focus on respect and is co-sponsored by The Women’s Center/Women’s Studies Minor, the American Studies Program and the Department of English.

Following Cunningham’s talk will be day one of the first Women’s Film Festival at St. Francis College, organized by communication arts Professors Augusta Palmer and Magaly Christopher-Colimon. Their goal in co-founding this film festival was to create a mutually beneficial, inspirational, supportive bridge between the emerging female digital media artists at St. Francis College and the professional female digital filmmaking community in New York City.  

The films will run on March 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. in Founders Hall and were curated by Lili White of the acclaimed Manhattan screening series “Another Experiment by Women Film Festival” (AXW). The program features experimental films by women from Taiwan, France, Italy and the U.S. and will be paired with work by SFC student filmmakers. In addition, the audience will also hear from Duana Butler, program coordinator for New York Women in Film and Television.

The second day of the festival falls on International Women’s Day and runs from 11:10 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. in the Maroney Forum. The program features a sneak peek of the Women Deliver Conference Cinema Corner, which will take place in May in Copenhagen, Denmark. That conference is one of the world’s largest with a focus on women’s struggles and resilience around the world. The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell, curator of the Cinema Corner, will introduce the films and answer questions. Additional work from the SFC community will follow.

The festival is co-sponsored by the Communication Arts Department and the Women’s Center.

 

About the Speakers

St. Francis College Scholar in Residence Joan L. Millman represented the 52nd Assembly District in the New York State Assembly from 1997 until her retirement in 2014. A life-long educator, Millman spent more than three decades working on behalf of New York City’s children prior to entering the Assembly, where she was a leading advocate on senior and educational issues and for consumer rights.

Millman served as chair of the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Aging as well as the Assembly Committee on Election Law, where she worked to increase access to voting, limit the influence of special interests in elections and level the playing field between political candidates.

Millman was an early advocate for the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park and worked to revitalize the entire Brooklyn waterfront. She has been on the forefront of the struggle to clean up the Gowanus Canal and adjacent properties, led the fight to keep Engine Company 205 open and has also been a leader in the fight to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH); in both the firehouse and LICH campaigns, Millman was arrested protesting the proposed closures.

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon grew up in a working class neighborhood in Yonkers and was the first in her family to attend college. Simon graduated Iona College with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences, Gallaudet University with a master’s degree in education of the deaf, and Fordham University School of Law, where she earned her law degree at night while working full-time.

After stints as a judicial law secretary and teaching in Hofstra University School of Law’s clinical program, she established a disability civil rights law firm in Downtown Brooklyn. Simon is a nationally recognized expert in her field, whose work has been featured in the New York and National law journals. Simon is also an adjunct assistant professor of law at Fordham. She has lived in Brooklyn since 1981 and has previously served as president of the Boerum Hill Association and chaired its Traffic and Transportation, Land Use, and Atlantic Yards committees.

Simon was a founder or co-founder of numerous organizations, including the Downtown Brooklyn Coalition, BrooklynSpeaks.net, Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Friends of Douglass/Greene Park, Hoyt-Schermerhorn Task Force, Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) where she is also general counsel, and the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Task Force. She chaired the Gowanus Community Stakeholder Group and Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition. Simon is a member of the ARISE Coalition, which seeks to improve educational and life outcomes for NYC’s children with disabilities. She is also the former president of Everyone Reading, Inc.

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud was elected to the state Senate in November 2015 after serving in the state Assembly. Prior to being elected to the state Legislature, Roxanne spent many years as a higher education administrator, including as registrar at St. Francis College. In addition, she is a longtime advocate for the community. She served as president of the 69th Precinct Community Council in Canarsie, a member of Community Board 18 and Commissioner on the New York City Districting Commission.

She also is a graduate of the NYPD Citizens Police Academy as well as the New York City Office of Emergency Management-Community Emergency Response Team. Additionally, she was a member of the Community Action Board of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and chairperson of the Neighborhood Advisory Board-District 18. She also serves on organizations highlighting domestic violence and cancer awareness, among others. She has traveled overseas on several occasions as a volunteer on medical and social outreach programs.

Persaud was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the U.S. with her parents and siblings. She is a graduate of Pace University from which she holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education administration.

In the Senate, Persaud’s legislative priorities for the district include safer communities, affordable housing, funding for schools and libraries, supportive services for youth and senior and quality health care.

Roxanne lives in the Canarsie section of the 19th Senatorial District.

Augusta Palmer, co-founder of the SFC Women’s Film Festival, is an assistant professor of communication arts at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.  She is a filmmaker and scholar who holds a Ph. D. in Cinema Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. As a documentarian, she is best known for “The Hand of Fatima” (2009), a feature documentary about music, mysticism and family history. Her award-winning documentary and experimental video work has screened in national and international festivals, as well as at venues like New York’s Anthology Film Archives. In 2016, her first fiction film “A is for Aye-Aye: An Abecedarian Adventure” has been screening at children’s film festivals from Seattle to New York.

Magaly Colimon-Christopher, co-founder of SFC Women’s Film Festival, actress, writer and director, credits the timely popularity of digital video filmmaking as the facilitator of her filmmaking career. She also credits the inspirational words of fellow actor, filmmaker, director and writer Jackie Alexander, who she met following a screening of his film “Joy” in 2002. 

Colimon-Christopher has produced, written and directed short films “Yes Madame!” “Her Tory” and “Two Women and a Camera” and a web series “BN4 Real.” When asked what keeps her inspired, she said, “Team work makes the dream work in filmmaking and I love the collaborative process. I have found that the famous quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” actually is true, ‘If you build it, they will come.’” 

Finally, Colimon-Christopher continues to be inspired by the growing numbers of female actresses, producers and directors, like Lena Dunham, Julie Delpy and Jodi Foster, who continue to prove that female actresses have a story to share, and there are audiences who want and need to see the world from a female perspective. Colimon-Christopher earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Columbia College, received her MBA from Binghamton University and her MFA in acting from Yale School of Drama. She is currently an adjunct professor in the Communication Arts Department at St. Francis College.

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