The Advisory Committee consists of community leaders and organizations who have a passion for public media, cinema, storytelling, the military, and veterans.
Committee members provide meaningful support during the planning of the festival, including promotions, speaker recommendations, media relations and film selection. They also judge submissions to the local film showcase and vote on the award finalists.
The 2022 Advisory Committee Members (as of 7/29/22)
Derek Abbey, Ph.D., President & CEO of Project Recover; Major, USMC (Ret.)
Dr. Derek Abbey is the President and CEO, Project Recover. Project Recover is a collaborative effort to enlist twenty-first-century science and technology in a quest to find and repatriate Americans missing in action since World War II, to provide recognition and closure for families and the nation. Dr. Abbey served 23 years in the Marine Corps and extensively in higher education prior to his current position.
Linda Ball, Grants & Engagement Manager, KPBS
Linda Ball is the grants and engagement manager at KPBS. She oversees grants that support a wide-range of projects, from news to podcasts to community engagement. Since coming to KPBS in 2015, she has assisted in the implementation of the station’s longest-running engagement program, One Book, One San Diego, and also managed Community Conversations, a program designed to explore issues important to the region.
Jodi Cilley, Founder & President, Film Consortium San Diego
Jodi Cilley is an Emmy nominated producer and long time filmmaker, entrepreneur and educator. She has been teaching video production since 2004 and has taught video and editing at UC San Diego Extension Digital Arts Center, Platt College and the Media Arts Center San Diego. She has produced over a hundred projects including web series’, short films, TV specials, documentaries and commercial projects and produced Film Indiego, a 6-Part TV Series for KPBS. She has a BS in Sociology from Boston College and an MBA with specializations in entrepreneurship and management from San Diego State University. As the founder and current president of the Film Consortium San Diego and the founder and producer of the annual San Diego Film Awards and San Diego Film Week, she is working to build a strong local film industry and to increase exhibition, distribution, funding and employment opportunities for local up and coming film talent. She is an adjunct professor at San Diego City College in the Radio, Television and Film department and recently produced, co-wrote/directed/edited the three-time Emmy nominated San Diego Film Awards.
Rik Deskin, Actor & SAG-AFTRA Seattle President; USAF Veteran
Rik Deskin is an actor and the SAG-AFTRA Seattle local president. He is a proud SAG-AFTRA and Equity member, and a longtime advocate for the film industry. Rik is the current chair of the SAG-AFTRA Military Personnel and Families Support Committee. Rik has a BFA in acting from Cornish College of the Arts and is a USAF veteran. His most recent work can be seen in The Devil is in the Details, B U M, and The Scottish Play. Rik’s next project is the Cold War documentary, Cold Warriors.
Elisa East, Int. Director, Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center, SDSU; US Army Veteran
Elisa serves as the Interim Director of San Diego State University’ s Military and Veterans Program (MVP). MVP is committed to supporting active duty, reservist, guard, veterans, military spouses and children in the areas of higher education. MVP provides assistance and support with VA education benefits, CalVet, outreach, military installations and world-wide.
Alison Faith, Clinical Nurse Specialist; Commander, USN (Ret.)
Alison Faith is a Medical-Surgical Clinical Nurse Specialist and combat veteran of the US Navy. Her 20 year career as a Navy Nurse Corps Officer included assignments throughout the United States and Italy. Additionally, she deployed on the USNS Comfort for a humanitarian mission and to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Recently she transitioned from a successful career in the military to the role of Adjunct Nursing Professor at Point Loma Nazarene University. Alison is active with the Navy Nurse Corps Association Southern California and enjoys volunteering at her children’s school, Tri City Christian.
Bradley Garner, MBA, Mgr. Recruiting Consumer Security, AmSec Amazon; MSgt, USAF (Ret.)
Bradley Garner has 22 years of talent acquisition leadership and recruiting experience within the military and civilian sectors. Bradley has earned a Master in Business Administration (MBA) and is currently employed by Amazon Corporate Office as a Manager of Recruiting in their Consumer Security Division, AmSec. His previous positions include Recruiting Manager at Scripps Health, Sr. Recruiting Manager at General Atomics and Director of Recruiting at Workshops for Warriors. Prior to transitioning to the civilian sector, Bradley served over 20 years on active-duty in the US Air Force before retiring with an honorable discharge in 2012, as a Master Sergeant.
Keshia is the Director of Community Partnerships at the Foundation for Women Warriors a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and empowering women veterans. Throughout her career, Keshia has been a volunteer, advocate, and fundraiser for veteran and military causes, including efforts to award the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an all-Black Women’s Army Corps, with the Congressional Gold Medal. Keshia served in the United States Marine Corps as an administrator and reserve career planner. In addition to her formal specialties, Keshia worked as Funeral Honors Coordinator, Toys for Tots Coordinator, and Female Search Team Advisor. Keshia is a 2020 alumni of LEAD San Diego and currently serves on the City of San Diego Veterans, Military, and Families Council.
Joey Jerome, Director of Operations, Armed Services YMCA, San Diego; HMC (SW/FMF/DV/FPJ), (Ret.)
Joey Jerome currently serves as the director of programs and military operations for the Armed Services YMCA San Diego. Throughout his 24-year career in the US Navy, he served as a Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman with multiple tours of combat overseas. During his time in service, he trained personnel in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) and led the High Risk of Capture team for personnel during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. While working in Europe under President Bush’s administration, he had the opportunity to create the medical evacuation for President Bush’s final trip through Africa. Upon retirement from the US Navy, Joey achieved his master’s degree in social work from USC and has helped people from all walks of life, especially Veterans, to lead healthy, successful lives.
Heather Kelly, Senior Manager, West Region, Travis Manion Foundation; Gold Star Spouse
Heather Kelly is the Senior Manager of the West Region for the Travis Manion Foundation. While managing programming in the West, her responsibilities run the gamut of what TMF offers – working closely with veterans returning to civilian life, the surviving family members of those who make the ultimate sacrifice, and fostering America’s next generation of leaders. In addition to her work at the Travis Manion Foundation, Heather is co-author of The Knock at the Door: Three Gold Star Families Bonded by Grief and Purpose with Ryan Manion and Amy Looney Heffernan, published November 2019. Heather, Ryan, and Amy, three Gold Star family members linked forever by unimaginable loss, share their inspiring and unlikely journey that began on the worst day of their lives. In addition to her daily duties as Senior Manager, Heather continues to serve the community through TMF initiatives including Operation Legacy projects and Survivor Expeditions for other families of the fallen. She is honored to work in the company of like-minded individuals, all seeking to strengthen America’s national character.
Todd Kennedy, Former Director, Military & Veterans Program, SDSU; First Sergeant, USMC (Ret.)
Todd Kennedy retired from the Marine Corps in 2011 as a First Sergeant following a 22-year career and retired from San Diego State University in 2022 as the director of the Military and Veterans Program. He completed his undergraduate degree at SDSU in History in 2016 and is completing a master’s program in Anthropology where his research focuses on military and veteran identity and perception.
Bob Lawrence, Former Broadcast Military Reporter; Staff Sergeant, Air Force Reserves (Ret.)
Bob Lawrence aimed to fulfill his goal of trying to make a difference in someone’s life in his more than 30 years of experience at Channel 10. Now retired as of June 2015, that is still his goal. Having served in the military as a staff sergeant in the Air Force Reserves, Bob found his calling as the military reporter at Channel 10 exposing the work and commitment of our young men and women in uniform. Currently, Bob still hopes to make a difference in his position on the board of directors for the USS Midway Museum, a member of KPBS’s GI Film Festival Advisory Committee, and as an emcee for other veteran and military events.
Sheldon Margolis, Former Executive Director, The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park; Captain, USN (Ret.)
Sheldon Margolis is a combat veteran of the US Navy. His 30 year Navy career included serving as an executive officer in Vietnam and as a commanding officer of the USS Lynde McCormick (DDG-8). He holds an MSEE from the Naval Postgraduate School and an MBA from Mary Washington University. Throughout his military career, and continuing still, he is active with the Boy Scouts, Jewish War Veterans, Military Order of the World Wars, and on the board serving as treasurer of the San Diego Chapter of the United States Navy League. He is the immediate past president and CEO of the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.
Lisa Marcolongo, Media Relations and Veterans Specialist, Elizabeth Hospice
Lisa Marcolongo is the media relations and veterans specialist at The Elizabeth Hospice. She is an active member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, North San Diego Business Chamber Military Advisory Council and is a co-chair of the San Diego County Hospice-Veteran Partnership. The Marcolongo family was featured as one of four families in Sesame Street’s prime time show, “Coming Home: Military Families Coping with Change.” The TV segment and support materials help children and their families cope with injuries, visible and invisible.
Nico Marcolongo, Senior Manager, Operation Rebound, Challenged Athletes Foundation; Officer, USMC Veteran
Nico Marcolongo is a veteran of the Iraq conflict who served 14 years as a marine officer. He leads the CAF Operation Rebound program for injured veterans and first responders and is also the founder of the Buddy Bowl Charity Flag Football Tournament Series. Nico is an original member of the GI Film Festival San Diego Advisory Committee.
Maggie Meza, Chapter Director, Blue Star Families San Diego
Maggie has over twenty five years of experience volunteering, advising, holding numerous executive board member positions, and fundraising for numerous organizations that advocate for military families. As a Military spouse, Maggie understands the needs and concerns that affect military families. She recognizes how important it is for military families to be connected not only within their installation but also the outside communities. Maggie has served as an Advisor to the Exceptional Family Member Program and Navy Marine Corps Relief Society facilitating positive changes and experiences for families stationed at Camp Pendleton. Prior to working for BSF, Maggie was the President of a nonprofit raising money for scholarships for military dependents and grants for local nonprofits that aid military families.
Ann Marie Price, Senior Account Manager, Scatena Daniels Communications; Military Ally
Ann Marie joined the Scatena Daniels Communications team in 2015. Her organizational prowess, perseverance, and knack for writing helps her achieve top-tier media results locally, regionally and nationally. Ann Marie has nearly a decade of public relations experience, working with education, arts, science, nonprofit, hospitality, transportation, public affairs and lifestyle brands. She is passionate about working with active duty military and veterans, and sharing their untold stories and talent with the world.
Martha Rañón, Executive Vice President, Southern Caregiver Resource Center
Martha Rañón is the Executive Vice President at Southern Caregiver Resource Center. As the leading provider in San Diego County for caregiver services including programs for military and veteran families, Martha is proud to lead the education and outreach team at SCRC. Her first-hand knowledge of being a caregiver coupled with her passion to connect under-represented communities with vital health care services is what has motivated her to be an advocate for family caregivers. She can be seen at public speaking events conducting presentations, workshops, conferences, including recording podcasts, videos, and live stream classes with the hopes of empowering family caregivers everywhere.
Dr. Patricia Reily, Veteran Advocate; USN Veteran
Dr. Patricia Reily is a retired navy commander, as well as a retired college administrator, college professor and published author. She started several highly successful programs to assist veterans transition from the military into sustainable civilian careers. Patricia Reily’s Navy career encompassed a wide array of jobs in command, operations, program management, education and training. She conducted the first study of Sexual Harassment in the Navy and created the Navy’s first workshops to prevent sexual harassment. Patricia Reily wrote “So there we were…” Leadership Stories from the Men and Women Who Make the Navy Work, (Emergent Publications, 2011) about the use of story in the Navy to train and inspire emerging leaders.
Daniel Romero, Director, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, SAY San Diego
Danny Romero has worked within the nonprofit sector in San Diego for well over a decade. Serving as an AmeriCorps member, he supported low-income neighborhoods across San Diego initiating community-focused programs to address neighborhood needs. In time, Danny expanded his work into diverse communities across San Diego utilizing education and technology to support upward mobility of community members. Currently, Danny serves as SAY San Diego’s senior program director overseeing all military-focused programs including the San Diego Military Family Collaborative.
Jennifer Santis, Veteran Center Manager, National University
Jennifer is the Veteran Center Manager at National University and a former military spouse. Over the last eight years she has dedicated her time to supporting military families and veterans throughout San Diego County. She currently serves as a co-chair for San Diego Military Family Collaborative (SDMFC).
Denise Scatena, Founding Partner and Public Relations Professional, Scatena Daniels Communications
As founding partner of Scatena Daniels Communications, Denise Scatena has nearly 25 of strategic communications experience. She has the ear of the top media powerhouses and community influencers in San Diego County and beyond. Denise has won multiple awards from the San Diego Press Club, and is the PRSA SD/IC 2020 Deborah Baker PR Professional of the Year.
Sheila Traister, Actor, Director, Writer, Educator; SAG-AFTRA Colorado Local Board Member; Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Board; USAF Veteran
Sheila is a USAF veteran and an award winning actor, director and writer for stage and screen. She created the acting department at the Colorado Film School and has a private coaching practice with global reach. She serves on the national SAG-AFTRA Military Personnel and Families Support Committee and has dedicated the past 27 years as an elected SAG-AFTRA leader. Sheila starred in the short film REWIND which screened at GIFF San Diego 2021.
Nancy Worlie, Interim General Manager, KPBS
Nancy Worlie is the interim general manager for KPBS, San Diego’s public media organization. Before joining KPBS in 2003, Nancy was the managing editor of Las Vegas ONE, where she helped renovate its hour-long evening newscast and launched a new morning show as well as a political interview program. Nancy has also served as broadcast director for the late U.S. Senator Harry Reid, D-Nevada, in Washington, D.C., where she worked with the national, state and local media.
Jaime Yslas, Veterans Yoga Project Area Manager; Veteran Engagement Director, San Diego Chapter – Team RWB; Commander, USN Veteran
Jaime is a U.S. Navy veteran and does volunteer work with San Diego area veteran service organizations. Jaime spent 32 years with the US Navy in the field of electronic warfare and intelligence. His service record includes deployments with surface, subsurface and aviation forces as well as numerous headquarters assignments. He is a member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition which fosters collaboration among veteran advocates.