2020 Board Candidates
Individual Member Candidates
Self-Nominated Individual Members and Certified Producers. You may vote for up to (2) two candidates.
Shameka Sawyer is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in communication and a minor in theater. She was admitted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society upon graduation. In 2014 she began producing short narrative films and is the founder of the 5 Shorts Project that assists aspiring filmmakers and playwrights with writing and producing short films and stage plays. A mother of four, she is inspired by Ava Duvernay and Issa Rae and aspires to attain a similar status in the industry and make content that people can relate to and show experiences of women of color in a different light.
How Shameka contributes to PhillyCAM's goal of board diversity:
“I believe that my experience as an African American woman and lifelong Philadelphia resident is reflective of the diversity of the City of Philadelphia because of my experiences and knowledge of the city. As a woman of color, I can contribute ideas and perspectives that represent people like me.”
Derwood Selby has a broad range of my life experiences including as a chef, producer/host of a radio and television show, food and beverage manager of a 5-Star Hotel, co-founder of a wine company, logistics coordinator, former military spouse, doting father, and a people person, who is world-traveled. Derwood’s skill set has given him experiences out in the trenches where he has felt the 'pulse of people' across racial, ethnic, religious and political lines. As a liberal-minded individual, his perspectives on issues are broad, fair and his variety of interests enable him to make informed decisions.
How Derwood contributes to PhillyCAM's goal of board diversity:
“The most successful companies in the world arrived at their status because of their commitment to diversity. The small voices of any community must be positioned to trumpet loudly. The inclusion of all people and a range of demographics comprise the power that enriches this nation. It will be my priority to hear from those, work with those and impact their lives in a way that moves their lives forward.”
Nominated by Non-Profit Organization
Nominated by Non-Profit Organizations - You may vote for up to three (3) candidates.
An Asterisk (*) indicates a ccurrent board member.
Denise James* (nominated by Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University) is an experienced journalist, multimedia content creator, and teacher. She's worked in Detroit, at the nation's first Black-owned television station, in Greensboro, Durham and then Philadelphia at Action News. She is known for thorough, creative, inclusive coverage, and for telling stories that reflect marginalized people's truths in empowering ways. Now as a college instructor and coach, she helps evolving journalists develop their skills. She has a production company and she champions transparency and positive police-community relations as Communications Director at the Philadelphia Police Department. Denise works in the public trust, giving voice to otherwise marginalized people.
How Denise contributes to PhillyCAM's goal of board diversity:
“There is power in diversity. From childhood, my life has reflected diversity in action. I am an African American, whose father was West Indian and whose mother was African American, Native American, German and Jewish (my grandmother fled Hitler's Germany as a young teen). I celebrate all that I am. Attending an elementary school that looked and felt like the United Nations set a high bar for my appreciation of the texture and value of diversity. My stepfather's work organizing work stoppages and marches with the Progressive Labor Party helped shape my need to include voices otherwise relegated to the margins.”
Gigi Nikpour* (nominated by Community Legal Services) is a paralegal with Community Legal Services (CLS) in its home ownership and consumer rights unit where she assists attorneys save Philadelphia's low income homeowners from foreclosure and other home ownership challenges. Prior to working to save homes, she was a paralegal with CLS in Aging & Disabilities unit assisting seniors, people with disabilities, and other individuals and families in a wide range of health and public benefits issues. Her strengths are her ability to issue spot and empathize with struggles of many of CLS’s clients who come from varied walks of life, they've diverse backgrounds, and many need civil legal help--some of which are complex and compounding legal issues. Her work is about advocating for social and economic justice for our clients. She is a commissioner with Mayor's Commission on LGBT affairs. In this capacity, she is the chair of LGBT Elder Advisory Committee and advocates for aging and long term care needs of elder LGBT population in Philadelphia.
How Gigi contributes to PhillyCAM's goal of board diversity
“I have been on PhillyCAM's board for two terms now. I have been chair of the Appeal Committee where we basically formed the process of appeals and grievances for PhillyCAM. I have also been consulted in updating member handbook; consulting with the ED on updating some of the existing procedures, and working on new strategies for further inclusion of member and member retention strategies. I have been involved in PhillyCAM's strategic planning and hope to continue implementing future strategic plans.”
Pascale Vallee* (nominated by Liberty Resources) For the past four years she has been working with Liberty Resources, Inc., a non-profit that advocates for and with people with disabilities. People with disabilities are already a neglected population; members of the community often do not know their rights or opportunities. At Liberty Resources, they empower their consumers to be full members of the community where they have the possibility to speak for themselves. Vallee joined PhillyCAM via her non-profit‚ organizational membership and knew she had found something special. She grew up with a fascination and respect for journalism for similar reasons, and later became an English major and Editor-in-Chief for the college newspaper to follow those ideals. At PhillyCAM, Vallee would advocate expanding one of PhillyCAM’s stated values, Access for All. There is so much untapped potential in those with disabilities who have not yet been empowered.
As someone running for their second Board term, I have gained a lot of insight and institutional knowledge about the organization. I have been active on the Fundraising Committee, Marketing Committee, and the Appeals Committee. My organization, Liberty Resources, has partnered with PhillyCAM to make it as accessible as possible so that as even more Philadelphians can have access to its wonderful staff and resources.
How Pascale contributes to PhillyCAM's goal of board diversity
“In order for any organization to be diverse, there needs to be an understanding of and respect for intersectionality. I, myself, identify as a queer woman with a hidden disability. In my career as an activist over the past 15 years, I have learned when it is critical that I speak and let my voice be heard, but perhaps more importantly, I have also learned when I must be silent, listen, and process. I understand that the role of an ally is to support those who lead the movement, not to lead the movement themselves; to listen to those directly affected by issues, rather than assume or speak for them; to provide tools, access, and information in order to empower others, rather than keeping them in your debt. As a Board member, I would continue to bring my own perspective and voice and honor and respect the voices with different perspectives and opinions than my own. Matched with a background on effective communication, conflict resolution, and community organizing, I would be valuable to the organization as a second term Board member.
Media Justice Nominee
Nominated by Non-Profit Organization representing a Media Justice or Community Media Organization
An Asterisk (*) indicates a current board member.
Ernest Owens (nominated by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists) is an award-winning journalist and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. He is a Writer at Large for Philadelphia Magazine. As an openly black gay journalist, he has made headlines for speaking frankly about intersectional issues in society regarding race, LGBTQ, and pop culture. At 28 years old, I have already used my wide media platform to spread awareness on several important issues. I serve on the board of directors of Philadelphia Community Access Media, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and New Leaders Council PHL. He is a proud graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied communication and public service. Currently, he is working towards his Masters in Communication Management from the University of Southern California while also expanding his media advocacy brand. His work has been featured in The New York Times, NBC News, NPR, CNN, USA Today, BET, MTV News, and other media outlets. He recently was named to the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and received the 2019 NEXT Award by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
How Ernest contributes to PhillyCAM's goal of board diversity
I am a fierce advocate for intersectionality within diverse communities and incorporating these voices for meaningful impact. With my numerous years on serving on several non-profit media boards, including Philly CAM, I plan to continue to advocate for community members and producers across the city and at my second home at 669 Ranstead.