Erin Gannon has been actively involved in the Special Olympics Allegheny County program for over 30 years participating in swimming and golf. She has competed on the international level at the Special Olympics World Games where she won a Silver medal at the 1999 World Games and a Bronze medal in 2003. This past spring, she won The Press Club of Western PA - Golden Quill Award for her work on the Unabridged Press’ podcast “Look Who’s Here”! Along with being an active volunteer throughout her community, she has also worked as an administrative assistant for the past 12 years at Achieva’s Early Intervention Program.
Erin will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of Intelligent Lives on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.
Chris Jagielski is a dedicated and active member of the Special Olympics community. This year, he celebrates his 23rd year participating in Special Olympics. Though he enjoys playing basketball, bocce, and soccer, his favorite sport is golf. In 2007, he competed with Team USA in the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, China. He was inducted into the Special Olympics PA Hall of Fame in 2009. He currently serves as an Athlete Representative on the SOPA Athlete Congress and the Special Olympics Allegheny County Management Team. He has worked at Brookdale Senior Living in Mt. Lebanon for the past 9 years.
Chris will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of Intelligent Lives on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.
Having qualified as a solicitor and given up his legal career the same day, Nick Kelly’s working life has been devoted to creative endeavors. He first began writing and directing award-winning short films in 2003, culminating in his third short, Shoe, being shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in 2011. His first feature, The Drummer and the Keeper, premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2017, where it won Best Irish First Feature. In addition to his work in film, he is a Clio-winning advertising creative, a Choice Music Prize-nominated musical artist and an Ian St. James Award-winning short fiction writer.
Nick will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of The Drummer and the Keeper on Wednesday, October 3, 2018.
Born with Cerebral Palsy, an incurable neurological disorder affecting movement, coordination and balance, Brandon Mendenhall faces numerous challenges. With limited movement on his left side and zero mobility in his left hand, the odds were stacked against him from birth. However, his passion for music inspired him to teach himself how to play guitar, rehabilitating his left hand without surgical intervention. His band, The Mendenhall Experiment, also features bass player Nathan Stockton, who overcame a disability of his own - childhood deafness - through the power of music.
Brandon will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of Mind Over Matter on Friday, October 5, 2018.
Marisa Niwa has trained and competed as a Special Olympics athlete for the past 30 years. Though she has participated in various Special Olympics sports programs, her favorite is golf. She is also a member of the Special Olympics Allegheny County Management Team. In 2003, she traveled with Team USA to compete in golf at the Special Olympics World Games in Ireland. For the past 17 years, she has worked at the Bethel Park Market District Giant Eagle as a bagger. She volunteers with her dad, Joe, at the St. Thomas More Community Garden through the South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM).
Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan and serves as the Director for Medical Student Success. While earning his M.D., he suffered a spinal cord injury, paralyzing him from the chest down. After two surgeries and intense rehabilitation, he was blessed with some return of motor function. He is the VP of the River City Challenged Athletes, a non-profit that supports the local adaptive sports teams, and the Director of Design the Future: Midwest, a summer program that teaches high school students to utilize design thinking and entrepreneurship to create solutions for problems facing people with disabilities. He has a catch phrase, “Disabusing Disability,” hoping to demonstrate that DISability doesn’t necessarily mean INability, with a goal of creating a health system that is both inclusive and accessible for all.
Sébastien Paquet started out as a music writer in France, working for some of Europe's biggest rock and metal magazines. He worked with legendary bands and forged long-lasting relationships which took him around the world as a rock photographer, videographer and filmmaker, with the likes of Grammy Award-winning metal band Korn. He has an eye for the spectacular and an instinct for spotting a great story and telling it with honesty and authenticity. Sébastien now works across the arts sector, capturing the impact of contemporary art exchanges from his home city of Los Angeles. He continues to hone his unique documentary style while cultivating his passion for music and telling stories that reach a global audience.