New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy About Us



Dan Mackler Dan Mackler
Chief Strategy Officer/Senior Vice President/Dean of NYFA Los Angeles

MFA, NYU Tisch School of the Arts; BA, Dartmouth College. Russian film scholar. Consulted on Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. Director of feature film The Karaoke King.

Sonny Calderon Sonny Calderon
Vice President of Academic Affairs

MFA in Screen and Television Writing, USC. BA in Communications, University of Michigan. As co-founder, writer, and producer at Impressionista Films, created and produced award-winning branded entertainment for clients such as Hilary Duff, Miller Beer, DKNY, Ford Motor Company, Macy’s, DirecTV, and Martha Stewart.

Nunzio DeFilippis Nunzio DeFilippis
Dean of Faculty; Chair of Screenwriting

Nunzio DeFilippis has worked in television, film, comic books and videogames for the last two decades. He received his MFA in Screenwriting from USC, and had his thesis screenplay optioned by Hollywood Pictures. Soon afterwards, he began writing with his writing partner and now wife, Christina Weir (also NYFA faculty).

Together, DeFilippis & Weir have written for the HBO series ARLISS and the Disney Channel series KIM POSSIBLE. They have developed an animated series at Disney, a TV movie at Oxygen, feature films at Process Media and Humble Journey Films, and a video game at Sony. Their work in comic books has included runs on NEW X-MEN, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, and BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL. Their creator-owned comics include THE AMY DEVLIN MYSTERIES (in development as a TV series at E!) and FRENEMY OF THE STATE (co-written with Rashida Jones, optioned as a feature film by Imagine Entertainment/Universal Pictures). They are currently working on a novel and a television pilot.

DeFilippis joined the faculty of NYFA Los Angeles in 2009. He helped introduce Transmedia and Sequential Art to the school and became Director of Curriculum Development for the Screenwriting Department in 2013 before becoming chair in 2014.

Susan Ashe Dr. Susan Ashe
Dean of Students

Dr. Susan Ashe comes to NYFA from Cal Poly Pomona, where she served for 12 years. After completing her Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Indiana University, Ashe became the associate director of recreation, programs and marketing at Cal Poly Pomona in 2005.

In 2010, Susan took on the role of Cal Poly’s director of student conduct and integrity. While there, she earned her doctorate from the University of Southern California in 2012. In 2014, she was presented with the Vice President’s Leadership Award for her dedicated service to the students and the division.

Prior to her career in higher education, Ashe held positions in the film and entertainment industry. As NYFA’s Dean of Students, Ashe will have the opportunity to merge many of her interests and talents in both supporting student success and educating students through visual storytelling.

Sam Lingrosso Sam Lingrosso
Associate Dean of Students/Title IX Coordinator

Samuel Lingrosso began a career in higher education administration in 2002 as the Assistant Director of Judicial Affairs and Ethical Development at California State University, Long Beach where he served for three years. He served as Co-Director of New Student Orientation and Assistant Director of First Year Programs at Loyola Marymount University, and most recently has been serving as the Director of Student Conduct and Ethical Development at California State University, Northridge since 2007.

He received his B.A. degree in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and an M.A. degree from California State University, Long Beach with an emphasis in American Government and Public Law, and a second M.A. degree in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate University. He is currently in the dissertation proposal stage of a PhD at Claremont Graduate University, with an emphasis in Public Policy and Higher Education.

Additionally, he has been an adjunct professor at Los Angeles Valley College since 2006, teaching introductory courses in American government, comparative governments, and public administration, and has also taught introductory American government courses at El Camino College, Mount San Jacinto College, and the Tseng College of Extended Learning at California State University, Northridge. His public service background includes Big Brothers and Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, Community Emergency Response Team (CSUN Chapter), and Community Crime Prevention Taskforce for the City of Simi Valley.

Viktor Kerney Viktor Kerney
Director of Student Life

With 20 years of experience in Student Affairs, Viktor has engaged with talented students and staff from different walks of life. He has a Master's in Organizational Communication from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

He previously held professional positions at Occidental College, Loyola Marymount University, the University of Southern California, and Cornell University. Viktor is well-versed in developing and overseeing success initiatives for specific groups of students - particularly students of color, LGBTQIA+, transfer, and first-generation students. He has solid experience in student activities, student organizations, diversity and inclusion programming, student leadership development, and residential education.

Besides being a Higher Education professional, Viktor is a comic book writer and active board member of Prism Comics, an organization promoting the awareness of LGBTQIA+ creators, stories, characters, and readers in the comics industry. And a consistent panelist at WonderCon and San Diego Comic-Con, discussing diversity and inclusion in comics.

Prima Gonzalez Crickett Rumley
Senior Director, Film Festival Department

Crickett Rumley received her MFA in Film at Columbia University, adapted projects for Killer Films and PBS, and authored the novel Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell. The founder and senior director of the New York Film Academy’s Film Festival Department, she is based in Los Angeles. With diversity, equity, and inclusion at the foundation of her work, Crickett regularly develops educational programs and festival strategy for both NYFA’s diverse student body and international organizations. She has hosted webinars with TV writers Boo Killebrew and Gail Lerner, Jordanian filmmaker Zaid Abu Hamdan, BAFTA, Oscar, and Student Academy Award winners and nominees, as well as moderated panels with staff from festivals such as New Filmmakers LA, Hollyshorts, Austin, and Reel Sisters of the Diaspora. A regular juror for the Forum on Life, Culture, and Society’s International Short Film Competition, Crickett also sat on the jury for the 2021 Tallgrass Film Festival, one of MovieMaker Magazine’s 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee. You can find her doling out festival tips in Backstage Magazine and on Twitter at @Crickett_NYFA.

Mary Samuelson Dr. Mary Samuelson
Dean of General Education; Chair of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Dr. Mary Samuelson received her Ph.D. and MA degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and completed her undergraduate work in Cinema-Television and English Literature at the University of Southern California (USC). For the past four years, Mary has taught courses and advised students in the Cinema and Media Studies and Writing Programs departments at UCLA, the Cinema-Television department at Los Angeles Community College (LACC), and here at the New York Film Academy (NYFA). Her essays "Radical Moment: The National Recovery Administration and Hollywood's 'New Deal'" and “Wartime News Flow: Government and Studio Newsreels, 1941-1945” will come out in collections focusing on film and the law (September 2016) and the U.S. newsfilm (June 2016), respectively. Mary’s dissertation “The Patriotic Play: Roosevelt, Antitrust, and the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry” is slated for book publication in Spring 2017.

Barbara Weintraub Barbara Weintraub
Director of Industry Outreach and Professional Development

Barbara Weintraub is a leading Hollywood entertainment career counselor with a history of hands-on experience, working with many of the industry’s most acclaimed producers and directors.

Barbara’s first job was an actress on Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, which convinced her she wanted to work “on the other side of the camera." She honed her production skills working with legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer on Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun before joining the senior management team responsible for launching E! Entertainment Television, the first all-entertainment reporting cable channel.

Barbara started her own production company, producing television shows including an NBC comedy special with Kelsey Grammer, Jason Bateman and Tony Shaloub. She is also Vice President and Board Member of GreenLight Women.

Prima Gonzalez Prima Gonzalez
Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Prima Gonzalez received her Master’s in Teaching from the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Washington State University. Prima brings years of experience teaching and mentoring instructors to develop and refine educational resources in learner-centered environments.

Her background in fine arts and writing has allowed her to blend her artistic and educational interests by connecting storytelling, critique, and the artistic process to academic skill development. Prima is very committed to professional development and stays active in the community by consistently presenting at conferences and holding a position on the CATESOL Board of Directors. Her presentations have covered a variety of topics including the enhancement of peer-to-peer feedback, using critique to sharpen English language development, and promoting inclusivity through reexamination of practices and educational tools.

As CETL Director, Prima will share her passion for teaching while collaborating on professional development offerings that address the needs of departments on the LA, NYC, and South Beach campuses.

Veronika Kurshinskaya Veronika Kurshinskaya
Community Outreach Manager

Veronika Kurshinskaya is a writer, producer, and actress. She has a BFA in Political Science from Yaroslavl State University and MFA in Acting from NYFA Los Angeles. Veronika believes that through art we can inspire future generations to make the world a better place. Veronika’s passion is creating, organizing, and supporting outreach programs that help to reveal the beauty of storytelling to underserved kids.

Peter Bloland Peter Bloland

Dr. Bloland served for 30 years with the U.S. Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He held a variety of scientific and leadership positions at CDC in the areas of malaria research and control, emerging infectious diseases, global public health systems strengthening and capacity development, and vaccine-preventable diseases. He has participated on US public health response teams in a variety of domestic and global emergencies, including refugee crises (Zaire, 1994) and urgent refugee relocations (Eritrea, Burundi, Liberia, Cambodia), SARS-CoV-1 (Taiwan, 2003), Rift Valley fever outbreaks (Kenya and Tanzania, 2007), Haiti earthquake (2010), and global polio eradication (2013-2019). He has published over 100 scientific articles. Dr. Bloland received bachelor’s degrees in Psychobiology (University of California Riverside) and Veterinary Science (University of California Davis), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (University of California Davis), Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, (University of California Davis), and is an alumnus of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (CDC’s “disease detective” training program).

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