Our Team

STAFF

 

      

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Devyani Kamdar, Executive Director

Devyani has an entrepreneurial background in publishing. She has worked in editorial and finance on numerous large-format photography books, including the best-selling Day in the Life series. Three of the books Devyani worked on were New York Times bestsellers: A Day in the Life of America, A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union and Christmas in America. Devyani was named a literary laureate of the San Francisco Public Library for her work on One Year Off. Devyani was director of finance on A Day in the Life of Africa, a charitable project which benefited AIDS education programs in Africa. In 2005, the start-up she co-founded, DeVie LLC, produced the popular Pink Ribbon Men of Marin Calendar featured on Anderson Cooper, CNBC, and Evening Magazine, among others. The Pink Ribbon Men project raised awareness and money for breast cancer research and education. Devyani’s involvement in film began during a stint in Japan in the 1980’s when she acted in the Japanese movie Maboroshi no Mizumi (Lake of Illusion) directed by Shinobu Hashimoto, was a regular cast member of the TV series, Tadaima Houkago, and had a guest role in an episode of the TV series, G-Men. A Stanford graduate with degrees in International Relations and Japanese, Devyani is a world champion XTERRA triathlete, who continues to enjoy cycling and running.

 

 

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Alf Seccombe, Director, Media and Programming

Alf teaches film history and production at Menlo College. He received a master's degree in Film from Columbia University and has been a consultant for the Sundance Feature Film Program International for the past eight years. Internationally, he has worked with the Romanian production company Strada Film and Producer In-Ah Lee. Alf recently won a North Carolina Humanities Council Grant to produce a documentary on microfinance.

 

 

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Alexandra Ippolite, Managing Director of PAIFF

Alexandra is a Project Manager with over 10 years experience in web/database design and development, e-commerce, search engine marketing and optimization, and web strategy. She has worked on accounts with MBNA, Disney, The Academy Awards, Sony, among many others. Alexandra recently served as the Database Analyst and web technology staffer for the Sundance Film Festival. She brought her extensive background in web and application technologies specific to the Film industry to Sundance and now looks forward to working with the Palo Alto Film Festival. Alexandra’s knowledge and talent will be critical to the fulfillment and expansion of the Film Festival’s mission and vision in the years ahead. 

 

 

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Kaitlin Sullivan, ART Director

Kaitlin is a designer and photographer. She graduated from Parsons School of Design with a degree in Communication Design. She has worked for a number of Bay Area start-ups and has done freelance design work for clients such as Stanford Sports Medicine and Tesla Motors. Her photographs have appeared in several exhibits, and she is a member of the Palo Alto Camera Club. She loves hiking and gardening.

 

 

 

COLLABORATORS

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Joy Li

Joy is a student filmmaker and volunteer videographer/editor at the Institute. After her short documentary, Ramon's Tree, she is researching for a documentary on the investment environment and corporate lifecycle in China in the first part of the 20th century. Besides filmmaking, she enjoys mountain biking, reading history and learning from children. In a prior life, she ran the west coast operations at China Daily and was a product marketing manager at several tech companies. Joy holds a master's degree in international history from London School of Economics and Political Science.

 

Jessica dela Merced

Jess is a graduate student in film at NYU. Her last film was about a Japanese karaoke worker who hates his job and then meets a mute girl who wants to sing. Her next film is a dark comedy about a Filipino girl whose mother forces her to use bleaching cream to lighten the color of her skin. Recently, Jess climbed Mt. Fuji while living in Japan. Jess assists the Institute with film and editing projects.

 

BOARD

 

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William Edwards, President, Director, Founder
Will Edwards is the President of the Board of Directors of the Palo Alto Institute. Will is also Chief Investment Officer of Palo Alto Investors, the Institute’s principal funder, a private investment firm he founded twenty years ago. Will provides vision and support to the Institute.

 

 

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Devyani Kamdar, Executive Director

Devyani has an entrepreneurial background in publishing. She has worked in editorial and finance on numerous large-format photography books, including the best-selling Day in the Life series. Three of the books Devyani worked on were New York Times bestsellers: A Day in the Life of America, A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union and Christmas in America. Along with the author, Devyani was named a literary laureate of the San Francisco Public Library for her work on One Year Off. Devyani was also director of finance on A Day in the Life of Africa, a charitable project which benefited AIDS education programs in Africa. In 2005, the start-up she co-founded, DeVie LLC, produced the popular Pink Ribbon Men of Marin Calendar featured on Anderson Cooper, CNBC, and Evening Magazine, among others. The Pink Ribbon Men project raised awareness and money for breast cancer research and education. A Stanford graduate with degrees in International Relations and Japanese, Devyani is a world champion XTERRA triathlete, who continues to enjoy cycling and running.

 

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Jennifer Trailer, Secretary/Treasurer, Director

A founding member of the Institute, Jennifer also supports the research team at Palo Alto Investors. At the Institute, Jennifer provides continuity and institutional memory and support in legal and financial matters. Jennifer is a runner with several marathons under her belt.

 

PAI ADVISORY BOARD

 

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Charles Cho, M.D., Advisor

Charlie is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine and also works as an analyst at Palo Alto Investors, LLC.

 

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Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson is a consultant and philanthropist living in the SF Bay area. Previously she spent ten years as President and Executive Director of the Sapling Foundation, where she focused resources on economic well-being and environmental and human health in the developing world, primarily sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, and launched the TED Fellows program. She has served on a variety of corporate and non-profit Boards, and is on EDF's National Council. Her current focus is on hunger, food security and agriculture.

 

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John Doux M.D., M.B.A., Advisor

John Doux obtained his undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford and his master's degree in business administration from Wharton. He has published multiple research papers and also co-authored several speculative articles on various scientific and medical topics. He has edited periodicals for several professional organizations over the years, and has composed freelance pieces for said publications as well. In addition, he is a avid fanatic of all things media and design, with a particular interest in experimental literature, animation, and advertising.

 

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George Kembel, Advisor

George is co-founder and Executive Director of the Stanford Institute of Design (d.school) and has taught on subjects ranging from human values and innovation in design to creativity and visual thinking. He has also won national and industry awards for entrepreneurship and excellence in design. A serial entrepreneur who has co-founded several design-centered corporations George aids the Institute with its own rapid prototyping process.

 

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Patrick Lee, M.D., MBA, Advisor

Patrick is a staff radiologist at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Medical Center. He is also a partner at Palo Alto Investors specializing in the healthcare sector. His prior experience includes a consulting role at McKinsey & Company, where he advised top-10 pharmaceutical companies on management and product strategy.

 

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Chris Sams

Chris Sams is the director of BATS Improv's On-The-Go programs. Chris delights in using improvisational theater technique as a trainer-facilitator to teach spontaneity, adaptability, creativity, leadership, storytelling, communication/listening, ensemble and team building. Chris leads improv classes and workplace workshops for companies and corporate teams. His professional background is in non-profit management. Chris is collaborating with the Institute in its Art and Science of Being Funny explorations and publishing projects.

 

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Joon Yun M.D., Founder, Advisor

Joon served on the clinical faculty of Stanford's Department of Radiology prior to his current position as a partner and President of Palo Alto Investors, LLC.  Joon is one of the founders of the Institute and authors many of its publications.

 

 

PAIFF ADVISORY BOARD

 
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Mike BuNnell, Sci-Tech Oscar Winner, CEO of Fantasy Lab, Inc.

Michael Bunnell is president and CEO of Fantasy Lab, Inc., a video game studio that is using film language to create compelling interactive entertainment. Michael's ground-breaking computer graphics research in global illumination recently won him a Sci-Tech Oscar. His technology has been implemented in renderers at Pixar, Dreamworks, and Sony Pictures/Imageworks and used in over thirty major motion pictures, such as Iron Man 2 and Toy Story 3. In the past he worked at Silicon Graphics on image processing and digital video editing tools. Later he became a member of NVIDIA's compiler team, helping to introduce programmable graphics processors to the world. He has written several chapters for the popular GPU Gems series of books and has spoken at the Game Developer's Conference and Siggraph.

 

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Susan Dawson

Susan Dawson is a consultant and philanthropist living in the SF Bay area. Previously she spent ten years as President and Executive Director of the Sapling Foundation, where she focused resources on economic well-being and environmental and human health in the developing world, primarily sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, and launched the TED Fellows program. She has served on a variety of corporate and non-profit Boards, and is on EDF's National Council. Her current focus is on hunger, food security and agriculture.

 

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Cris Ippolite, iSolutions Inc., President

Cris Ippolite is the president and founder of iSolutions, Inc., a Los Angeles-based information system firm specializing in development of systems for the entertainment industry. Cris is entering his 20th year as a consultant with a resume that includes developing systems for Disney, The Oscars, Sundance Film Festival, NAACP Image Awards, Sony Pictures, Stanford University, Starz, Inc, USC Football, National Institute of Health and countless others. Cris is also a regular speaker at several technology conferences cited as an expert in his field as well as a technology trainer both in classrooms and online. With exposure to the film industry for most of his career, he combines his love of Film with industry insider perspective to the Palo Alto Film Festival.

 

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George Kembel, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Stanford Institute of Design (d.school)

George is co-founder and Executive Director of the Stanford Institute of Design (d.school) and has taught on subjects ranging from human values and innovation in design to creativity and visual thinking. A serial entrepreneur who has co-founded several design-centered corporations, George has also won national and industry awards for entrepreneurship and excellence in design.

 

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Jennifer Knoll

Jennifer is Director of Partnerships, outreach and advocating for the green community at DotGreen, a non-profit organization working to establish the .green internet registry. DotGreen promotes the green movement and supports environmental organizations and projects. Jennifer attended University of California in Santa Barbara before beginning her career in the motion picture industry at Industrial Light & Magic, the acclaimed visual effects division of LucasFilm, LTD in Marin County. She worked as an Optical Coordinator, Assistant to the Head of Post Production and Visual Effects Coordinator on blockbuster movies such as the Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, The Abyss, Ghostbusters sequels, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hunt for Red October. In addition, Jennifer directed product sales for Knoll Software whose products included the graphics tools Cybermesh, Missing Link and Lens Flare Pro.

 

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In-Ah Lee, Producer

In-Ah Lee is a producer based in Los Angeles and Cologne. Lee produced The Way I Spent the End of the World for Romanian director Catalin Mitulescu (Cannes 2006, Un Certain Regard, Best Actress Award), a French Romanian co-production, and Grace Lee’s American Zombie (Slamdance 2007) in Los Angeles and recently completed production on Au Revoir Taipei (Berlin 2010, Forum, NETPAC Award) by Arvin Chen. Her upcoming projects include In the Miso Soup with Wim Wenders, Arvin Chen’s Nanjing East Road, Letters to Matschek by Niels Mueller and Janissary by Peter Antonijevic.

 

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Kieran Ridge, Film Educator

Kieran Ridge is founder and director of the Filmbridge program at The Marin School, in Sausalito, California. In addition to teaching high school students about the art and science of film, the program presents screenings, with filmmakers in person, to audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kieran's guests have included winners of the Oscar, Cesar, Berlinale, Sundance Grand Jury, Independent Lens and Golden Gate awards. Most recently Kieran hosted John Avildsen, director (Rocky; The Karate Kid Triology), at Kerner Optical film studio, and Debra Granik, director, with Jennifer Lawrence, actress (Winter’s Bone), at The Marin School. Other regular program partners include the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Film Society and the the California Film Institute.

 

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Chris Sams

Chris Sams is the director of BATS Improv's On-The-Go programs. Chris delights in using improvisational theater technique as a trainer-facilitator to teach spontaneity, adaptability, creativity, leadership, storytelling, communication/listening, ensemble and team building. Chris leads improv classes and workplace workshops for companies and corporate teams. His professional background is in non-profit management. Chris is collaborating with the Institute in its Art and Science of Being Funny explorations and publishing projects.

 

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TANUJ CHOPRA, FILM DIRECTOR

Tanuj Chopra is an award-winning filmmaker from Palo Alto. In 2003, his New Delhi based short film, Butterfly, won three best film awards in addition to screening at over 30 festivals across North America, Europe, India and Pakistan. His first feature film "Punching at the Sun" premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Variety called his feature "distinctive, original and iconoclastic". Tanuj holds a BA in Art Semiotics from Brown University and an MFA from Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Columbia School of the Arts Dean's Fellowship and the Columbia FOCUS Film Fellowship. In addition to making films, he currently serves as program coordinator for the New Voices for Youth initiative sponsored by the Palo Alto League of Women voters.

 

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BRITT BENSEN

Britt is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder of On Demand Weekly. He is the former head of Affiliate Marketing and VOD for Sundance Channel. Prior to Sundance Chanel, Britt worked for Miramax Films and BMI.

 

 

Click here for more info on the Palo Alto International Film Festival Advisory Board.