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Park Professionals-in-Residence

Our Professionals-in-Residence provide unique and diverse perspectives, speaking in classes, holding open office hours, and collaborating on projects with our students.

Fall 2019 Professionals-in-Residence

Dan Heffner '78 executive producer of The Saw horror film franchise; worked on films such as  Kramer vs. Kramer, Ragtime, An Officer and a Gentleman,  and the critically acclaimed The Big Chill.  He will join us Oct 7-12 including being a judge/mentor for our Pitch it to Produce It event sponsored by The Studio.

Ray Villeda '07 Emmy ® Award-winning reporter Ray Villeda joined the NBC 4 New York news team in June of 2015.  Since joining NBC 4 New York, Villeda has covered several high-profile stories for Tri-State viewers.  In July, 2016, Villeda travelled to Dallas and delivered live updates on the ambush-style attacks which left five police officers dead.  Villeda was later awarded a New York Emmy ® as part of NBC 4 New York’s team coverage of the Dallas attacks.  He will join us October 13-15.

Caitlin Burns will join us November 11-13. She is a multi-platform writer. She began her career at Starlight Runner Entertainment, where she worked her way up from intern to full-blown producer on big-budget projects for the Walt Disney Company, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. After 10 years there, she is now an independent creative producer, serving clients both small (like Serial Boxes, a company that releases serialized novels digitally) and large (Disney).

Past Professionals-in-Residence

  • Ed Rivera '88 new media entrepreneur and investor; former Chief Innovation Officer at TouchTunes Interactive Networks and VP at Sony Music Entertainment. During his residency, he invited students to sit in as he engaged in conference calls about the financing of new media deals.
  • Brooke Johnson, former President, Food Network,  met with students and was especially interested in speaking about the role of women in media management.
  • Larsen Zia Wenzel '17 Cultural Insights and Strategy Account Executive at Motive. A fierce advocate artist and activist, they work both within and beyond the systems around them to facilitate a more equitable world, especially for those from marginalized identities and experiences.
  • Leza Raffel '89 President & Founder, Communications Solution Group. Her PR firm specializes in working with local governments and school systems and while she's on campus she is hosting a panel of "Unsung Heroes", representatives of local non-profits that can provide opportunities for our students to offer communications support for their endeavors. 
  • Kelli Grant '04 Consumer Reporter CNBC , covers all aspects of personal finance. She earned the Certified Financial Planner™ designation in 2016,  has appeared as an expert on CNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and Fox and has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Parents and Family Circle. While she's on campus she speaks to journalism classes and mentors students at The Ithacan; she'll be leading workshops on personal financial planning for our seniors about to graduate in the spring. 
  • Billy Hall '84 television consultant, former executive at Fox Movie Channel, TVT, tbs, truTV and BounceTV where he was instrumental in developing content for today's diverse audiences. Billy was a founding member of Turner’s “Black Professionals at Turner”, an affinity group designed to mentor employees, strengthen company networking, outreach to local students and provide Turner with a sounding board on the diversity initiatives with its company and content.

  • Rodrigo Bellott  ’01  one of Bolivia’s most prominent International Visual Artists, named by Fast Company one of the most creative people in business 2017. His 2015 play, Tu Me Manques, about the suicide of his closeted lover, includes a live hourlong Skype conversation, projected on multiple screens, and live Facebook messaging