Team

Director Allison Walsh is both a Prospect High School alum and a former student of Mr. Camardella’s World Religions class. This class served as a fundamental catalyst for her development as an artist and filmmaker. Thus, she is personally invested in—and in many ways a testament to—the transformative power of thoughtful, explorative education in students’ lives and in society more broadly. She is interested in re-visiting the classroom she once sat in as a student; this time with a documentary lens, to observe and communicate the impact of religious literacy on high school students.

Allison Walsh 
Director/Producer

Allison Walsh is an independent documentary filmmaker and

fine artist, who is committed to

local political advocacy and documenting social issues in the Midwest. Walsh’s films have screened around the world including Paris, France (Paris Art and Movie Awards), Sayulita, Mexico (Festival Sayulita) and Chicago, Illinois (Pride Film Fest, Femme Filmmakers Showcase). She is the recipient of an Acorn Equality Grant, awarded to work that positively impacts the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons and allies. She has been invited to speak about her films at Western Illinois University and the El Paso Museum of History. Walsh is a recent graduate of the internship program at Kartemquin Films in Chicago. During her time at Kartemquin, she worked on the documentary film The Dilemma of Desire, led by the Emmy and Peabody award-winning director Maria Finitzo and City So Real, led by the Oscar-nominated director Steve James.

Shuling Yong
Sound

Shu Ling Yong is a

Singapore-born,

Chicago-based documentary filmmaker, DP and Location

Sound Recordist who has worked on films like The Feeling of Being Watched (Tribeca, 2018, dir. Assia Boundaoui) and America To Me (Sundance, 2018, dir. Steve James). Her feature-length debut, Unteachable, was the first local film to win the Audience Choice Award at the 30th Singapore International Film Festival 2019, Shuling is a Tribeca Film Institute program alum, a Kartemquin Films Diverse Voices in Docs Fellow, a participating filmmaker at the BRITDOC Queer Impact Producers Lab, the DocNet Southeast Asia Strategy Workshop and the KOMAS Video For Change Forum. She was also chosen as a DOC NYC "40 under 40" Honoree in 2019.

Lilly Hanson
Associate Producer

Lilly Hanson is a Midwestern creative focused on assisting projects that shed light on systemic issues and new ideas. With a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in film & journalism, she has worked on projects that help grow the Madison film community. Hanson honed her skills for project management and producing for documentaries through her internship with Kartemquin Films, where she assisted with the successful Kickstarter campaign for The Dilemma of Desire (dir. Maria Finitzo). She recently managed the Kickstarter for the documentary Czechs in Chicago (dir. Susan Marcinkus) and is currently working as the associate producer for Untitled Sam Project (dir. Nadav Kurtz, producer Diane Quon) 

Hanna Awwad
Assistant Producer

Awwad is a writer and modern embroidery artist committed to supporting projects that explore the relationship between identity and place. She graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Religious Studies. Awwad is currently based in Rhode Island and pursuing a Master’s in Urban Teaching at Providence College.

Alanna Schmelter
Editor

Alanna Schmelter is a film & television editor with a concentration in narrative non-fiction & documentary. After graduating with a degree in film editing from Columbia College Chicago, she started her career by cutting comedy at the world-renowned Second City. She has since edited series for Starz, National Geographic, Travel Channel, Ovation and A&E. Finishing in 2018, she served as Co-Editor for two years on an epic ten-part documentary series directed by Steve James titled America to Me (Kartemquin Films & Participant Media), addressing race & academic achievement in public education.  It made its debut in the inaugural Indie Episodic category of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and aired on Starz in Fall of 2018.  Her latest episodic project, Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order (dir. Ruth Leitman), premiered in November 2018 at DOCNYC and is still pending distribution. She is currently contributing work as an editor for an upcoming Steve James project following Chicago’s 2019 mayoral election, premiering early 2020. 

Linghua (Lily) Qi
Assistant Editor

Lily Qi graduated from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a specialization in social justice and investigative reporting. Her film was screened at the 2020 American Documentary and Animation Film Festival and she is a graduate of Kartemquin Educational Films' internship program and a former Free Spirit Media PRO fellow. She also contributed to Finding Yingying, the Kartemquin feature documentary, as one of the key translators. As an editor, she worked for organizations such as the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).

Diane Quon
Producing Advisor

Diane Quon is an Academy Award-nominated producer who worked as a marketing executive for 17 years at NBC and at Paramount Pictures before moving back to her hometown of Chicago. Diane is producing Kartemquin Films documentaries including the Oscar and Emmy nominated, Peabody and Sundance award-winning film, Minding the Gap directed by Bing Liu; Left-Handed Pianist along with Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich, and co-directed by Leslie Simmer and Gordon Quinn; The Dilemma of Desire with Peabody Award-winning director Maria Finitzo (premiering at SXSW 2020) and FINDING YINGYING with Director Jiayan "Jenny" Shi (premiering at SXSW 2020). She is also producing the documentary, I Know, by Nadav Kurtz (Paraiso). Diane is a 2017/2018 Film Independent Fellow, a 2019 IFP Cannes Producer Fellow and a 2019 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow. She is also developing a fiction film based on the New York Times best-selling book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Melanie Walsh 
Writer/Story Consultant 

Melanie Walsh is a writer, literary critic, and story consultant. She recently completed her PhD in English Literature at Washington University in St. Louis and started a postdoc in the Digital Humanities at Cornell University in Fall 2019. Her writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, American Quarterly, The Chicago Review, and elsewhere. Walsh has previously served as a story consultant on the films Parallel Lines and The Daily Aesthetics of Alexander Martin, directed by Allison Walsh.

Advisors

Dr. Diane L Moore

Diane L. Moore is the faculty director of Religion and Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions, and a Faculty Affiliate of the Middle East Initiative. She focuses her research on enhancing the public understanding of religion through education from the lens of critical theory. She is currently serving as the Principal Investigator for both the Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative in partnership with the Kennedy School of Government and the Religious Literacy and the Professions Symposium Series.

Dr. Michael D. Waggoner

Dr. Michael D. Waggoner is a Senior research Scholar with the Institute for Religion and Education at the University of Northern Iowa where he taught the past 32 years. Since 2000, he has served as Editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Religion & Education and in 2001 also became Editor of the book series for Routledge Research in Religion & Education.

Dr. Andrew Henry

Andrew Mark Henry is a scholar of late antique Mediterranean religion and the producer of the religious literacy YouTube Channel Religion for Breakfast. He currently serves as a postdoctoral fellow at the American Research Center in Egypt working on a project about Coptic Christianity. He also serves as a fellow at the Center for Mind and Culture working on projects about improving the public's understanding of religion and examining how disinformation about religion spreads on social media platforms. 

Rev. Dr. Nathan Walker
Fundraising Advisor

The Rev. Dr. Nathan C. Walker is executive director of 1791 Delegates and he serves as the managing director of The Foundation for Religious Literacy and founder of the online learning community, ReligionAndPublicLife.com. Walker teaches First Amendment law and human rights at Jefferson University and Rutgers Honors College. 

Dr. W. Y. Alice Chan

Dr. W.Y. Alice Chan, Ph.D., has worked in multinational for-profits, and international religious and non-religious non-profits. These experiences inform her work at the Centre for Civic Religious Literacy (CCRL) and raise her desire to foster religious literacy among professionals - an understanding that was lacking in her corporate environments. As the executive director and co-founder of the CCRL, her work is also inspired by her teaching experience as a middle school teacher, McGill University and OISE/University of Toronto lecturer, her research on religious bullying, religious literacy and religious discrimination, such as violent extremism.

Dr. Kate E. Soules

Dr. Kate E. Soules is an education researcher and curriculum developer specializing in religious literacy and teacher education. Her research interests include teacher education about religion, educators' conceptualizations of religious literacy, and student outcomes in secondary religious studies courses. Dr. Soules is the co-founder and director of the Religion and Education Collaborative (REC), an interdisciplinary network of scholars and practitioners. 

Benjamin P. Marcus

Benjamin P. Marcus is a Freedom Forum fellow. From 2017-2020 he served as the religious literacy specialist with the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum, where he developed religious literacy programs for public schools, universities, businesses, and government organizations. His research and publications examine the intersection of education, religious literacy, and religious liberty in the United States.

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