Meet The Team

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Mariela Gomez de Ell

Associate Board Member

Mariela Gomez de Ell, originally from Morelia Michoacan, worked from a very young age in children's theater at the Casa de la Cultura and later joined the National Theater Company. Her career in journalism began at the age of 14 when she was a pioneer of the Michoacan radio and television system later she worked as a news presenter for Telemundo in Tucson and Phoenix later a news producer for Univision manager of the television channel salam TV, manager General of Latina TV Network, she is Ceo of dreamline creative media entre radio Show conéctate con la noticia

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Rene Lopez

Board Member

Councilmember René Lopez has lived and worked in Chandler for more than seven years. He began his first term on the Chandler City Council in 2015. He is a third generation Arizona native, born and raised in the East Valley. René graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering, with a minor in Direct Energy Conversion.  René is also a third generation U.S. Navy seaman. René has an extensive career in Project Management, with more than 14 years of experience working in telecommunications, energy, and currently in information technology. He currently serves as an advisor on Congressman Matt Salmon’s Hispanic Community Affairs Advisory Council.

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Lynette Carrington

Board Member

Lynette Carrington has been “seeing stars” ever since she appeared in the classic Steve McQueen film “Junior Bonner” as a toddler. She is an Arizona native with a lengthy background in media, public relations, marketing, business communications and business ownership. During her 15+ years in media, she has interviewed more than 100 celebrities and high-profile individuals on numerous red carpets and for various publications. Most recently, she was the marketing director for Arizona’s largest print and digital publisher. She has been involved with the Chandler International Film Festival since its first year - assisting in bringing in talent, creating buzz about the festival and providing various resources.

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Jason Schenk

Board Member

As an ever-diligent professional Realtor, Licensed Contractor, and former Commercial Banking Vice President with proven market results, I take great pride in saying exactly what I do, doing exactly what I say, and doing it very well. As a successful small business owner in the greater Phoenix area, I have spent the last 30 years building relationships and going the extra mile for my clients and their assets. Relationships are everything. I afford my clients 30 years of experience in financial services including brokerage, retail banking management, and commercial lending. "I am your KEY to buying and selling real estate!"

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Erin Cooper

Board Member

Erin is the director of marketing and co-owner of The Melting Pot Restaurants of Arizona and BKD’S Backyard Joint (in Chandler). Erin is married to Kelly Cooper (the “K” in BKD’S), and they have two children (Mason and Kennedy). Erin was the director of talent relations for Phoenix Comicon. One of her  highlights was bringing Dick Van Dyke out to his very first comicon. Erin also was the exhibitor manager for Phoenix Comicon. Most recently, she managed the actor Elijah Wood’s celebrity appearances at comicons and conventions throughout the country and Canada for two years. Erin and her children are also part-time actors. In addition to five movies and several commercials, her husband, their two children and one of their dogs were in a national Offerpad commercial that also aired before the Super Bowl. 

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Christine Wenger

Board Member

Christine Wenger is an Arizona Native born in Flagstaff.  She has a love and passion for helping people and animals alike.  Has a Bachelor of Science majoring in Animal Science from CSU with a concentration in large animals.  Was a judge with Block and Bridal and judged many state fairs in the South West. Now, the Sales Manager for Nations Lending in which she helps people get into their dream home.  She has been in the mortgage industry for 20 years and truly enjoys what she does. Everyone matters. She is also very active Ambassador for the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and Director of the Ahwatukee Chapter of Power Networking Team. 

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Ari Levin

Board Member

Ari Levin is an entertainment industry veteran whose expertise runs the gamut from conceptualizing, staging, scripting, producing and directing London, Los Angeles and Las Vegas live shows, theatre, episodic television and film, to producing, directing and writing television specials. Theatrical and special event production scripting and direction are Levin’s specialty, and he masterfully crafts and supervises every facet that falls under his direction, paying careful attention to the budget and production value. Levin had his own show in Las Vegas called “Xtreme Magic,” and produced and directed the grand opening of 2007 NBA All-Star Game with Kobe Bryant. He has produced and directed for Paramount Studios, CNN, HBO, TNT and the BBC. He also executive produced the Lifetime Achievement Awards at CinemaCon (previously known as ShoWest) for Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Goldie Hawn and Jodie Foster.

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Barbara Bisanz

Festival Coordinator

Barb spent many years as a special educator and department chair before venturing into film making. In 2011, she co-founded Spinning Reels Productions and has since produced award winning short films. She has been involved with many aspects of feature film making in the areas of production assistant, production coordinator, production manager, producer, catering and post production supervisor. She has lived in Arizona since 2012.

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Miler-Anne Latinovich

Volunteer Coordinator

Miler-Anne Latinovich has experience in the Music Festival Industry both creatively and logistically. Working with street teams, vendors, sponsors, and volunteers, she has a purpose and a passion for events!

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Joseph Yang

Social Media Director

Joseph Yang is the Social Media specialist for the festival. He joined the CIFF in 2019 and is currently the head of the Digital and Social Media department for the CIFF. Our great team consists of Jodi, his right hand, Tyler, Natalie and Ella, they are interns for our social media department. As everyone says an organization is only as good as its team. Joseph is very honored to drive the CIFF social media to the top but also work with an amazing team like Mitesh, Betty, Barb and the social media team. He is excited and hopes to see you all at our 2022 festival as we work to make it bigger and better this year and every year for many more to come.

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Mitesh Patel

President/Festival Director

Mitesh Patel graduated from S.P University (India) with a Bachelor in Fine Arts (Applied Arts) in 1997, with the highest distinction of  earning the Best Design Award. In 2008, Patel made his first low budget feature film "The man in the maze" which received 12 awards from various film festivals and theatrical distribution. It wasn’t long before Patel started acquiring film rights for theatrical re-release in North America. One of these films, "Delhi Safari", was shortlisted in the Oscar race of 2012. Patel has directed two feature films and has produced/distributed over 10 feature films in the past 10 years, balancing his time between Hollywood and Bollywood. Patel is also a part of PGA, the Producers Guild of America. Today, he plans to keep creating art by producing one film every year.

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Betty Ramirez

Vice President

Betty Ramirez is a president and a social media marketing director for the Chandler International Film Festival. Working with colleagues on the creative and technical elements, she has expanded CIFF’s social media presence to reach across multiple channels. Her track record of winning results for clients in the local and political online space includes Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke and City Council Members Terry Roe, Jesus Rene Lopez and Mark Stewart. She has helped with online media promotions for Mix 96.9’s Battle of the Burbs, promoted an online writing course for cancer survivors by local author Lynne Hartke, does video and social media promotions for Zerimar Medical Equipment Services which she co-owns with her husband Paul Ramirez, and currently serves as social media vice-president for local non-profit CRW.

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Mark Stewart

Board Member

Vice Mayor Mark Stewart has been a resident of Chandler since 2001 and began his first term on the City Council in January 2017. He has spent more than 20 years with Fortune50 organizations and now owns a marketing and brand company, Concept2Completion. As a serial entrepreneur, he is involved with two additional startup companies as a founding partner. He works to foster a community that embraces inclusion, innovation and spirit on entrepreneurial development. Vice Mayor Stewart has a Bachelor of Science degree from Missouri State University. Within the community, he volunteers and supports local non-profits and maintains an active faith.

 

 

 

 

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Dave Waltzer

Treasurer

Dave Waltzer was born in Wakefield, MA(Near Boston) in 1974 to Roman Catholic parents.  He comes from a hard working family whose Dad was Mailman and Mom was a homemaker. They divorced when he was 14 and that's when he started working and helping to raise his younger brother and sister along with attending High School.  He was accepted and started attending Babson College in Wellesley, MA after High School. He wanted to be an International Business & Marketing major but was not disciplined enough at that point to complete college. In 1994 he decided to join the United States Air Force. He served 4 1/2 years and was stationed in such exotic places as Misssissppi, Texas, & South Korea where he scheduled and dispatched flights as well as maintained flight records. He was Honorably discharged in 1998.