Festival Staff

Meet the team behind the scenes of the world’s largest green film festival.

Maryanne Culpepper

Executive Director

Maryanne Culpepper is the Executive Director of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital and an award-winning writer/filmmaker with extensive experience in developing, writing and producing high-profile documentaries and nonfiction series.  She is the former President of National Geographic Studios, where she oversaw development and production of 100+ hours of factual programming annually. She recently coproduced Vamizi: Cradle of Coral, a film on the coral reefs of Mozambique, now in international distribution, as well as video and editorial content for a traveling exhibition for science museums. She is an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and serves on the Advisory Council for the Cuba Environmental Film Festival and for Women in Film and Video. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and an Affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers.


chrisChristopher Head

Managing Director

Christopher Head has been Managing Director of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital since 2008. He participates in all levels of programming the Festival, including researching and selecting films and negotiating the rights to screen films. He also negotiates with various speakers, including filmmakers and environmental experts so they may attend screenings for introductions and question and answer sessions. He also coordinates with venue partners to select dates, venues, and films to screen as co-presentations, in addition to securing venues where DCEFF is the sole presenter. He maintains all the Festival’s bookkeeping and helps with general office management and hiring. Before joining DCEFF in 2007, Christopher worked in production for Story House Productions in Washington, DC. He graduated from American University with a B.A. in Film & Media Arts. Learn more about Chris and his work here.


jessieJessie Brinkley

Director of Development

Jessie joined the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital as the organization’s first Director of Development in November 2013.  She oversees fundraising efforts from foundations, corporations, individuals and public agencies. Her career as a fundraiser has focused on her commitment to protecting the wildlife and the environment. She came to DCEFF from Defenders of Wildlife where she was VP for Development. Before that she led development efforts for National Wildlife Federation and National Parks Conservation Association. She started her environmental work at the World Wildlife Fund as director of major and planned gifts.


Brad Forderbrad

Director of Programming

Brad is the Director of Programming for the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. He has worked as the director of photography for various documentary projects – including the upcoming film Painted City – and has served as a videographer for local production companies and universities, as well as at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He holds a BA in Asian Studies from Furman University and an MA in International Journalism from Cardiff University.




Sam Plakun img_8165

Program Manager

As the Programming Manager, Sam is responsible for overseeing the film submission and review process. She is the main point of contact for Festival filmmakers and the source of information for all other departments on selected films and filmmaker attendance. Before joining DCEFF Samantha worked as an Associate Producer for social issue documentaries in New York City. She holds a degree in Media Arts for Social Justice from Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Consortium.



heidiHeidi Hermisson

Development Manager

Heidi Hermisson joined the Festival as a Development Manager in 2015. In addition to managing the development team, she is the point of contact for Friends of the Festival and manages events. She previously worked at the American Academy in Berlin, where she managed their signature annual event, and at the Brookings Institution, where she coordinated events and programs. She has an MA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a BA from the University of Pittsburgh. She speaks German and French and lived in Europe for several years.


saaretSaaret Yoseph

Director of Online Communications and Engagement 

Saaret is responsible for leading DCEFF’s digital marketing strategy, which includes the Festival’s website, e-newsletters and social media content. A multimedia storyteller and producer, Saaret brings nearly 10 years of diverse media experience to the organization. She has a background in online journalism, cultural studies, media education and documentary production, having written, directed and produced a wide range of mission-driven content. Saaret holds a master’s degree in Communication, Culture & Technology, from Georgetown University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English and Africana Studies, from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County.


Monica Schorn

Festival Coordinator 

Monica started her festival career as a programming intern for the Nantucket Film Festival — seven years later, she’s still a reader and analyst for their annual screenwriting competition. She has also served as a judge, consultant, and script analyst for the Richmond International Film Festival, the Creative World Awards, the Bluecat Screenplay Competition, NYC Midnight, and individual screenwriters. Since 2011 she has worked for the American Film Institute’s documentary film festival. She has served as the production manager for the AFI DOCS Film Festival since 2014, and as the production coordinator, associate programmer, and director of programming for the Annapolis Film Festival. Monica is a Washington native and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.