Alana DeJoseph, Director
Alana DeJoseph has worked in video and film production for over 20 years. She has worn many hats as producer, director, videographer, and editor, but her heart has always been in documentaries. Between 2003 and 2005, she was associate producer of the PBS documentaries The Greatest Good (about the U.S. Forest Service) and Green Fire (about conservationist Aldo Leopold). The Greatest Good appeared at 15 film festivals with screenings in 35 states, winning numerous awards, including the CINE Golden Eagle Award and finalist designation for the Annual Telly Awards. Green Fire appeared in 29 festivals from Colorado to India and New Zealand. Still airing on public television, it was awarded an EMMY, Telly Awards Bronze and a CINE Golden Eagle Award, among others.
Being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer herself, she couldn't help but think that just such an in-depth, comprehensive documentary was needed for the Peace Corps. Alana says: "In a time when the American public either has a very antiquated notion of the Peace Corps,informed by an almost mythological awe of the 60s, or is not even aware that the agency still exists, it is high time to bring this unique organization back into the public discourse, to raise the level of the discussion from quaint to crucial."
Shana Kelly, Script Writer
As a writer, editor, and literary agent for over 18 years, Shana has developed numerous projects including fiction and non-fiction stories, plots for television and books, and dramatic arcs that tell strong stories of complex subjects.
Vanessa Carr, Director of Photography
As documentary director and cinematographer specializing in véritéstyle shooting Vanessa has shot for Al Jazeera, Frontline, HBO, New York Times Op-Docs, Showtime and PBS. From supermax prisons to drag bars, with extensive experience in international videography, she has a passion for outsider stories and complex subject matters.
Lance Bendiksen, Composer
Composer Lance Bendiksen began his career journey mesmerized by the music of the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall soon became his musical dream and second home. Years later he would perform at Carnegie Hall as a pianist and recording artist during his critically acclaimed "Journey Home Tour." The tour donated funds to America's Homeless. As a composer and music producer Bendiksen won an Emmy for the PBS series "Life Wise" and his production team and clients have been nominated and won several Grammys. He has personally won over a dozen broadcast awards and has worked for Sony, Arista and RCA Records. His scoring career began in Denver Colorado, writing and scoring music for TV stations including ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates as well as various PBS stations. In 2004 he wrote and scored the music for the highly acclaimed "The Greatest Good", a documentary film celebrating the hundred year anniversary of the US Forest Service. Bendiksen has also worked with many hit recording artists including Sarah McLachlan, and The Cowboy Junkies. Upon completing "The Greatest Good" Bendiksen worked on the "How to Save a Life" DVD for the hit band The Fray. Bendiksen expanded his musical influences working with the Cape Verdi record label MB Records and began to study the music of Africa, Brazil, and Portugal. Over the last several years Bendiksen has been active scoring and producing several music projects in Denver, London and at Sony / Tree in Nashville. "My passion for creating, scoring and recording music throughout the world runs deep. I'm very thankful for all the great people who've shared this exciting and ongoing journey with me and look forward to what lies ahead."
Dave Steinke, Associate Producer
Associate Producer Dave Steinke has worked for ABC, as well as NBC and ABC television affiliates in Colorado and Texas. He ran the Creative Services department of the US Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region directing all aspects of the department. He co-produced the two-hour documentary film, The Greatest Good, which has been broadcast the past eleven years more than 8,000 times on Public Television across the country. The international version of the show was released in eight languages. In 2011 he co-produced Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time.
Kelsey Marsh, Associate Producer
Associate Producer Kelsey Marsh has worked as Associate Producer and Assistant Editor for Maryland Public Television and as Assistant Editor for Discovery Communications, as well as Co-Producer and Producer on several documentaries. She has guided many productions from initial idea to broadcast mastering and distribution.
Andrea Heiserman, Production Supervisor
Production Supervisor Andrea Heiserman has worked in post-production and production supervision and assisting narrative, reality, and animated television for several years. With disciplined, detail-oriented planning and scheduling, she has kept productions on time and on budget.
Thomas Seidl, Art Director
Thomas Seidl has worked in graphic design and animation for over 25 years. As Art Director and Lead Designer at several software companies he developed 3D visualizations, implemented visualization applications, and cooperated with high-end 3D modelers. He has worked on UI design, animation, editing, graphic design, action script, and 3D modeling brining a unique perspective to each project.
Maritza Diaz, Marketing & Fundraising
Maritza Diaz is the Founder/Editor of Little Giant Life and has been a contributing writer for the We All Grow Latina Network. Prior to her current work, Maritza took on the roles of Communications and Marketing Director for Miami Music Project, National Entertainment Publicist for Allied Integrated Marketing, Public Relations and Social Media Manager for OneKreate, Communications Contractor for Vanguard Communications, and also worked for SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).
Maritza is also a yoga and dance instructor, as well as a motivational coach. Giving back to the community has always been part of her focus, therefore becoming part of the A Towering Task team has been rewarding and inspiring.
"Although I have never been part of the Peace Corps, hearing the stories of RPCV's brings me closer to their cause and passion for helping others."
Joe Shaffner, Marketing & Fundraising
Joe served in the Peace Corps from 2005-2008 in Uzbekistan and Suriname. He was a health education volunteer in Uzbekistan before that program closed early. He went on to Suriname, where he served for two years as a community economic development volunteer, followed by a year as Volunteer Leader. He spent his final year also supporting UNICEF in developing an education pilot program.
Joe currently works as the Senior Communications Specialist for the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Prior to that and for 2 ½ years, Joe served in a consulting role as a Marketing, Communications & Business Development Specialist with organizations like the Peace Corps, Spina Bifida Association, IREX, and Split This Rock. He has worked with Ogilvy Public Relations, Sheladia Associates, Inc. (an architectural and engineering firm), and FHI 360. Joe is also currently providing pro bono support to a new, Washington DC-based initiative called Peace Corps House, where he serves as Vice Chairman.
"Before I joined the team for A Towering Task, I spoke with Alana [DeJoseph] on the phone. What impressed me the most was that Alana is not looking to glorify the Peace Corps, nor aiming to criticize it. Rather, she wants to tell the story of the Peace Corps honestly - to capture its deep history of successes, challenges, and growth and to do so by gathering together decades of perspectives so that we can hear what those collective voices have to say."