Our Team

Taylor Hensel

Producer

Taylor Hensel is an Oklahoma-based filmmaker and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She has most recently worked on Season 2 of the FX series, Reservation Dogs, and Season 1 of Reciprocity Project. Taylor’s work has largely involved supporting stories of animal justice, environmental protection, as well as Indigenous sovereignty, and identity. She has previously directed the documentary films, Zibi Yajdan (2019), and Native and American (2017). Her work has been seen in festivals globally and she is a current fellow in the IllumiNative Producers Program in partnership with Netflix.

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Adam Mazo

Producer

Adam is the co-director and producer of the Emmy® award-winning feature-length film, Dawnland (Independent Lens), First Light (Camden International Film Festival) and Dear Georgina (Camden) and Bounty. As co-founder of Upstander Project these films have been broadcast on domestic and international television, programmed at film festivals and conferences, and screened at universities, middle and high schools, where they are also often used in curricula.

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Kavita Pillay

Producer

Kavita is a Helsinki based producer, documentary filmmaker, and journalist. Kavita’s work has been supported by the LEF Foundation, the Sundance Documentary Film Program, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Pulitzer Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fulbright Scholar Program. She has reported for WGBH Boston, PRI’s The World, NPR, the BBC and co-hosts the Subtitle podcast. Her feature length documentary on south Indian men named Stalin and Lenin is in post-production.

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Tracy Rector

Producer

Tracy comes to Nia Tero with two decades of experience as a community organizer, educator, filmmaker and film programmer. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, ImagineNative, National Geographic, as well as at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, and at film festivals including Cannes and Toronto. She has received the Horace Mann Award for her work in utilizing media for social justice and is a recipient of the National Association for Media Literacy. Currently, Tracy is the Executive Producer of Reciprocity Project and the Managing Director of Storytelling at Nia Tero.

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Sauli Pillay

Production Manager / Editor

Sauli is a Helsinki based cinematographer and editor who has worked on numerous feature documentaries, including One and Only, Black Memorabilia, and Family Affair, which premiered in competition at Sundance. In addition to extensive work as a director of photography and editor for clients including Harvard University, MIT, Cisco Systems, GreenerU, and the National Academy of Sciences, Sauli is the cinematographer, editor, and co-director of Stalin, Lenin, and Other Tales from South India.

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Mishy Lesser, Ed.D.

Learning Co-Director

Mishy is the learning director for Upstander Project and Education Fellow at Dodd Human Rights Impact at the University of Connecticut. She is co-director of the Upstander Academy, a weeklong professional learning experience that focuses on genocide, decolonization, and developing the skills of upstanders. She authored the teacher's and viewer's guides for Upstander Project's films: Coexist, Dawnland, Dear Georgina, and Bounty. Mishy was a Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador and spent 12 years learning and working in the Andes.

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Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Learning Co-Director

Dina (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a lecturer of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos, and an independent consultant and educator in environmental justice policy planning. She teaches courses on environmentalism and American Indians, traditional ecological knowledge, religion and philosophy, Native women’s activism, American Indians and sports, and decolonization. Dina is an award winning journalist and her most recent book is As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock.

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Jacob Bearchum

Video Editor

Jacob is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and is of Northern Cheyenne, Yakama, Bitterroot Salish descent. For the past 11+ years, he has worked as a freelance video editor based out of Seattle, Washington. In this time period Jacob has edited two feature films, a short documentary, and two series of short documentaries; Sixty-Four Flood (PBS) and Who's at Risk (for Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes).

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Cindy Chischilly

Creative Director/Graphic Design

Cindy Chischilly is Diné (Navajo) and is based on Duwamish Territory in West Seattle, where she works as a graphic designer, business owner, illustrator, and educator. From her start at an international design firm to her work as co-founder of White Canyon Design, Cindy brings over twenty years of experience in designing for retail, entertainment, packaging, and web to a diverse base of clients. She has worked as an adjunct professor, teaching branding and design at Cornish College of Design. Cindy is community-driven, bringing awareness of Indigenous issues to the forefront of her work. She believes good design can change our world.

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Eleni Ledesma

COVID-19 Safety Supervisor

Eleni is a Seattle based filmmaker and works part-time at Nia Tero as an Associate Producer and Covid Safety Manager. In addition, she is currently a Producer for Indigenous Genders (working title) with Raven and Relatives, LLC, and Associate Producer on Richman Poorman, with Hemlock Productions. She recently completed, Why We Serve, a project for the National Museum of the American Indian. Eleni is a graduate of the University of Washington, and a former board member for Seattle Latino Film Festival. She lives in Seattle with her husband, one dog, and four chickens.

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Jonah Kozlowski

Print Traffic Manager

Jonah brings a background in nonprofit program management, film festivals, and production to Nia Tero’s Reciprocity Project. Most recently he managed the education and artists services programs at Northwest Film Forum. He served as Print Traffic Manager and on the screening committee for Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival, and as festival coordinator for Seattle Shorts Film Festival. Jonah is focused on encouraging new voices in media to support shifting the collective conversation toward sustainability and social justice.