Since 2010, Harvardwood has identified and honored a volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding service and dedication to our organization every year.
2016: Ansley Rubinstein AB '10
Associate Director of Harvardwood 101 and the Summer Internship Program
Ansley Rubinstein is an artist, traveler, and educator. She has starred as action leads and comedic characters in television and film, and she has been featured as a contemporary soloist in dance companies and festivals including Home Grown at the Bootleg, the Pasadena Dance Festival, and LA Unbound. Having spent three of her undergraduate summers writing for the travel guide Let's Go, Ansley continues to travel professionally and often works with student groups abroad - a gig that has led her to nine countries in 2016 alone. Most recently, she worked with the School of International Training on a semester-long program in Brazil, India, and Uganda, focusing on social entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, and social justice. In addition to continuing her work with Harvardwood and as an actress and dancer in LA, Ansley is eager to explore ways of using art for social change and for addressing global issues of our time.
2015: Patricia Danaher, Nieman Fellow 2015
Director of Harvardwood Publishing
Patricia Danaher is Director of Harvardwood Publishing and has been an active member of Harvardwood for ten years. Originally from the West of Ireland, she writes about entertainment, culture and travel for a variety of publications internationally including The Sunday Times and The Daily Mail. She was one of the founders of the Harvardwood Fiction Programme in Los Angeles and is actively seeking new voices in both fiction and non-fiction for publication by Harvardwood Publishing.
Patricia has lived and worked as a journalist and DJ in Japan and Argentina and was Bureau Chief in Dublin for UTV for many years, where she broke stories in covering the implosion of the Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland peace process.
She is also on the board of the American Ireland Fund and is a volunteer with the Young Storytellers Foundation in Los Angeles. She has written short stories, plays and a novel and is adapting a musical biography for TV. Patricia also serves on the jury for the Golden Globes, visiting film festivals in different parts of the world every year in the search for new voices in film.
2014: James Granger '05
Director of the Harvardwood Writers Program—Features & the Harvardwood Writers Competition
James Granger did everything he could to avoid becoming a writer. He failed.
James is a native of New York City and grew up entrenched in the off-off-broadway theater scene. After escaping to college, he spent a little too much time studying what he considered important and no time at all studying anything he actually liked. When confronted with writing a required thesis, he finally fell back on his upbringing and wrote a screenplay.
It was not accepted.
He changed concentrations (a.k.a major, thanks Harvard). His new concentration did not accept his fabulous screenplay either, but they did let him graduate.
Back in New York City, having wasted four years studying stuff like economics and normative social theory, James threw away the rest of his college capital by getting a job as a grunt in independent film where he had the good fortune to watch some really cool directors, producers and writers at work. It was kind of like film school, except without homework and they paid you.
But four years was enough of that, so he quit even that sorry excuse for a job and moved out to LA and became—don’t tell his parents—a writer.
James is managed by Amotz Zakai at Echo Lake Entertainment and represented by Karl Austen at Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein.
2013: Dayna Wilkinson
Chapter Head of Harvardwood DC and Member Profile Writer
Dayna Wilkinson has done an extraordinary job as the Harvardwood DC Chapter Head, re-vamping and rejuvenating Harvardwood activity in that region.
A longtime Harvardwood member, she has organized film & theater events and joint activities with the Harvard Alumni Association and the HBS Club of Washington, D.C. She also led a collaboration with the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Inspired by her brother Rick, an L.A.-based Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning storyteller, she completed a screenplay which she’s currently rewriting.
An executive with experience in media, financial services and e-commerce, her work & client background spans public, privately-held and non-profit organizations and includes market development, channel management and strategy design & execution.
To date, she has written over a dozen Harvardwood Highlights profiles, and looks forward to writing more stories of Harvard alumni in the entertainment industry.
2012: Stacey Collins
Director of the Harvardwood Career Advisors Program
When Stacey Collins was a graduate student at the School of Education, she worked in the Office of Career Services. After graduating she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career. Her first job in Hollywood was found through Harvardwood, working for Writer/Director Peter Radar (’82, ’83) as a research assistant.
Her involvement with Harvardwood has included many facets. She has volunteered at events, written profile articles for the newsletter, joined television writing groups, produced a television pilot showcase, and now is on the board as Director of the Harvardwood Career Connections.
The Mentorship Program is at the heart of Career Connections, and this is the third year Stacey has run the program. Each year a dozen or more members are matched with professionals who volunteer their time to mentor people in their desired fields.
Stacey’s responsibilities also include arranging informational interviews, recruiting employers to post available opportunities to the essential job listings section, and providing career search resources on the website. With her start at OCS, in a way she has never left.
She also organized the first ever Harvardwood showcase. Not only did she help the careers of the writers she recruited, the experience helped build her confidence and advance her own career. At its roots, Harvardwood is a place which offers its members opportunities to learn and grow.
Currently she works for filmmaker couple Terry Rossio and Jocelyn Stamat '92.
2012: Michael Persaud HBS '94
Director of Institutional Advancement
Michael Persaud HBS ’94 is Harvardwood’s current Director of Institutional Advancement. Since the start of his term he has worked tirelessly to help Harvardwood successfully manage its unprecedented growth –- from further developing Harvardwood’s corporate sponsorship structure & outreach strategy, to solidifying the financial structure of the organization. He recently joined Ameriprise, one of the country’s leading financial planning firms, and has firmly established Harvardwood’s ongoing partnership with the company (read more on this below). Michael brings to Harvardwood his diverse set of skills and boundless creative energy, and is excited to work with the organization (as well as with all members individually) to help it achieve its financial goals.
2011: Gerry Bryant '76
Director of Legal Affairs, Former Director of Harvardwood Publishing
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Gerry Bryant (Director, Harvardwood Publishing) was the only kid in his neighborhood studying classical music. At Phillips Andover he studied under Albion Metcalf and planned a career as a concert pianist. At Harvard his musical interests broadened to Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington.
At UCLA Gerry earned a JD and an MBA so as to be able to represent himself in the business of music and the arts. Since then many other creative individuals and organizations have benefited from his legal talents. In addition he has continued his career as a musician, arranger and composer with a group he founded, PocketWatch.
Gerry has also volunteered in a number of capacities. He has served as board member and board co-president of California Lawyers for the Arts (CLA), and for many years he played the piano a couple of times a week for patients, staff and visitors at the UCLA Medical Center.
Gerry’s efforts have aided Harvardwood in many ways. He has served on the Board for the past two years and has been editor of the HARVARDWOOD HIGHLIGHTS. He can now add to his list of accomplishments the successful launch and management of the Harvardwood Publishing imprint which releases books by Harvardwood members in hard cover and paperback.
2011: Amit Samuel EXT '05
Director of Harvardwood 101, the Harvardwood Summer Internship Program, & the Harvardwood Talent Group
Amit Samuel was born in India and grew up in Los Angeles. Like all good Indian children, he initially went to college to study medicine. Like all bad Indian children, he discovered free will. He transferred to Harvard as a nontraditional student to pursue a more rigorous education in the liberal arts.
After graduation, Amit worked at Discovery Communications where he felt he would have an opportunity to mix his creative and business interests. After a while he realized the only opportunity for vibrant, creative expression on the business side of entertainment is the choice of screensaver. He left to work for a talent management company. As an MP Lit & MP Talent assistant, he was finally working in a creativity-adjacent job.
Since 2008 Amit has been developing and producing feature film and TV projects. He works closely, not only with writers, directors and actors, but also with studios and network executives. (He is also sorry about the earlier screensaver crack.)
Amit has assumed several responsibilities over the course of the years he has worked with Harvardwood. His commitment began in membership and communications, where he took on editing of the HARVARDWOOD HIGHLIGHTS as well as writing profiles. He then moved on to plan Seminars and create the Harvardwood Salon Series.
Amit now manages the Harvardwood 101 and Harvard Summer Internship programs. He co-directs Harvardwood 101, which introduces undergrads to all aspects of the entertainment industry. He also represents Harvard actors as the talent manager for Harvardwood Talent Group (HTG). HTG actors have booked roles on shows like WEEDS, 90210 and MODERN FAMILY and movies like THE CONSULTANT (a Marvel short) and J. EDGAR.
2010: Lane Shadgett '00
Director of the Harvardwood Writers Program—Features and the Harvardwood Writers Competition
When Lane Shadgett ’00 was a senior at Harvard, he loved movies, even if it had never occurred to him as a potential career. As president of the Gilbert & Sullivan Players, he dreamt instead of someday directing opera for the Met. Then he met writer-director Stephen Gaghan who had come to town to research a film about a college senior who is in the throes of writing her thesis. Lane agreed to help Stephen with his research, and by the time he graduated, Stephen had offered him a job as his assistant in Hollywood, CA.
Plumber and electricians have apprenticeships. Doctors serve residencies. Law firms assign associates to work with a partner. Screenwriters have nothing.
Lane wants to help change that. Three years ago he led his first Harvardwood writers’ group – he and five other writers meeting weekly in his apartment. This year 24 writers in three groups are meeting in Los Angeles, with additional groups in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Last spring Ed Zwick sponsored the first Harvardwood Feature Writers’ Showcase – a staged reading (in collaboration with the Harvardwood Actors’ Program) of excerpts from the four best screenplays from the workshops. All four writers have made concrete career progress as a result – representation and even some leads on option deals. An industry veteran who avoids workshops said it was the best she had even attended.
Lane has not done all this alone. Others have put in many hours, and he hopes that in this way Harvardwood can create a virtuous cycle whereby writers who have been part of the program as youngsters turn around and help out the next generation.
2010: Matt Weinberg ALM '09
Chapter Head of Harvardwood Boston & Harvardwood Writers Program Module Leader
Some people feel that Harvard does not do enough for the arts. For more than 5 years Matt Weinberg has worked to prove them wrong. Originally from Kansas City and an alumnus of American University in Washington, D.C., he came to Cambridge as a graduate student.
Matt has managed projects for the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, Harvard Graduate School of Design, the José Mateo Ballet Theatre, and has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art. As a Tutor in Adams House, he oversaw the art studios and galleries, taught drawing and painting, and advised students.
For the past several years, he has managed numerous projects in the visual and performing arts for the Office For The Arts at Harvard. Because of his strong advocacy for the arts, Matt was elected as an Advisory Board Member of the Cambridge Arts Council in 2008. He manages Harvard’s annual ARTS FIRST festival and produces the Performance Fair/Dance Fest, which features 90+ performances at twelve venues. In addition he is responsible for outreach, publicity and evaluation.
Matt heads the Boston chapter of Harvardwood and leads the Screenwriters Workshop. He has produced an independent film and written a science fiction thriller, MOTH. He is working on ALREADY MARRIED, a comedy about three mismatched couples united in matrimony by a well meaning but erratic judge.
Matt lives in Cambridge with his wife Christine, and two-year-old son Noah.
2009: Allison Kiessling GSE '05
At Harvard's Graduate School of Education, Allison studied how adults learn about the world through stories and television. She joined Harvardwood to find an L.A. television writing community and considers it a rare artistic experience to work with such talented and supportive Harvard alumni. Allison currently heads the television module of the Harvardwood Writers Program (HWP) and is working on her fourth script. In addition to serving as a Programs Director on the Harvardwood Board, Allison started the Actors Advisory Committee and produced the August 2009 Harvadwood Showcase of original television pilots. Allison plans to produce another showcase next summer and looks forward to seeing the L.A. writing community grow and create good work. "I was afraid this was going to be just another L.A. project where everyone starts off excited, and then it slowly dwindles away...but these writers are not only incredibly talented, they just keep showing up and pushing each other. We've been going on for a year and half like that now and it just keeps getting better."
2009: Spence Porter AB '70
Chapter Head of Harvardwood NYC
An honors graduate with a degree in Applied Math and Physics from Harvard, Spence got his M.F.A. in Playwriting at Ohio University. He writes unconventional plays that fuse dance, puppetry and masks with music and theater. "I love making stories in a way that will amaze and delight people," he says. Spence joined Harvardwood because of his interest in helping people make connections across the arts, and is now the New York Co-Chapter Head. He is proud of the robust schedule of film, theater, comedy, concert and other original events the chapter produces--an average of one each week. Highlights include a Harvard ROCKS event featuring alumni bands that drew 250 people, an upcoming Evening with Arthur Laurents as well as stand up comedy and food events. "We have a real opportunity right now in New York, if we all work together, to create a vibrant arts/media/entertainment community centered around Harvardwood!"