The Team

Reel Stories would not be possible without the dedicated and passionate hard work of our staff, boards, and volunteers. Want to join us in achieving equity in the media industry?


Esther Pearl - Executive Director


Founder, Executive Director

Esther Pearl is the founder and Executive Director of Reel Stories. She received her Bachelor’s in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego and her M.B.A. in Sustainable Management from The Presidio Graduate School. She spent 15 years working in Production Management in the entertainment industry. The majority of Esther’s film career was spent at Pixar Animation Studios where her feature film credits include Academy Award winning films The Incredibles, Wall-e, and Monsters, Inc. Her other credits include Titanic, Starship Troopers, Armageddon, and What Dreams May Come. Esther has been honored for her contributions to Bay Area Women in Film, Television, and Media by the San Francisco Women’s Film Institute. She was a semi-finalist for the Echoing Green Fellowship awarded to a social entrepreneur addressing urgent issues in society today. In 2018, she received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Advanced Imaging Society. Esther believes in the power of great storytelling to create social change.


Marketing, Outreach, & Events

Anjalie is a University of California, Santa Barbara graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Communication. She's been with Reel Stories since February 2017, starting out as a marketing volunteer and joining the team full time in January 2019. Anjalie is passionate about advocating for gender equity in the media and stoked to be working with Reel Stories to fight the patriarchy!


Program Manager

Alexandria has spent the past eight years as a journalist working in newsrooms across the country - from the mountains of rural Western North Carolina, to the coast of Miami and, most recently, in Santa Rosa. She obtained a graduate degree from Columbia University and as a journalist has covered topics including the opioid epidemic overwhelming foster care systems, the difficulties of accessing mental health services, LGBTQ+ rights and cases of sexual assault. She is a first-generation Cuban-American woman. Alexandria brings her strength of storytelling and passion for highlighting the stories of those underrepresented in the media to the Reel Stories team.


Development Associate

Vera is an arts administrator originally from Brooklyn, New York. She is an avid reader, hiker, and movie-lover. In addition to working with Reel Stories, Vera currently works with KPFA Community Radio. In the past she has worked with Bay Area media organizations including Making Contact and The Freedom Archives. She is passionate about supporting artists and organizers create and challenge the world around them


Alumni Engagement

Grace is an Art and Technology major at Mills College with dreams of making movies that will change the world. She has been a part of Reel Stories since 2014, and is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. The film she is most proud of creating at Reel Stories is “After The Storm”, which had its audio mixed at Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco. Some of her favorite TV shows with strong female characters are Crazy Ex Girlfriend, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Glow.

Yasaman Ford

Media Teacher

Yasaman Ford is a graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor's degree in Film and Television with a concentration in Documentary and Digital Media. Yasaman attended the very first Camp Reel Stories in 2013 and returned in 2014 and 2015 as a camper. After graduating high school Yasaman attended camp for three more years as a volunteer "producer" and in 2020 as a staff member after graduating college. Being introduced to the film world through Reel Stories, filmmaking and feminism has always gone hand in hand for Yasaman and she aims to educate others, from toddlers to teenagers, on the importance of representation in the media. Yasaman's own work as a filmmaker includes narrative production design to directing documentaries to freelance motion graphics and editing.

Clarissa Lam

Student Board Coordinator & Program Assistant

Clarissa Lam is a sophomore environmental studies and political science dual major and Spanish minor at Reed College. Clarissa began attending Reel Stories programs in 2014 when she was 13. After attending boot camp, she participated in Reel Stories's first advanced camp and Institute programs, and served as a student board member for three years. After graduating high school, Clarissa volunteered as a producer for four films created by campers, and worked as one of Reel Stories's summer interns in 2020, helping transition programs to a hybrid (virtual and in-person) model following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This fall, Clarissa was hired to lead the student board as they create a film about voter suppression in the 2020 election.


Intern 2020

Currently in her 2nd year at San Francisco’s California College of the Arts, Mina is an international student studying film. Mina was born in Japan, moved to the Philippines when she was 6, and has spent the last 2 years in the U.S. During her time at CCA, she’s become interested in the pre-production aspect of film, particularly project management. Ideally, she loved to be the project manager for animated films, which she feels have served as a way for her to keep in touch with her culture and plans to dive deeper into the influence of Asian American culture through animation. While in school in the Philippines, Mina helped start the successful Manila Student Film Festival, which is now an annual event! When she's not killing it in film, she loves doing yoga and strengthening her drawing skills.


Media Teacher

Heidi is the founder and former director of the School of Digital Media at Oakland School for the Arts (OSA), and former co-chair of OSA's School of Visual Art. She has B.F.A in Film from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.F.A. in Visual Effects Programming from Savannah College of Art and Design. Heidi formerly served on our Board of Directors in the Bay Area and now is the Media Teacher of various virtual programs for Reel Stories online!

Board of Directors



Penny Krueger is a film and video editor. She is the senior editor at Eleven Inc. in San Francisco. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in film and in recreation administration. Penny has been editing for the past 12 years prior to editing, she worked for several youth programs including summer camps and year round science camp.



Kia Simon, an award-winning filmmaker, started Sneaky Little Sister Films in 2004 in Oakland, California, with a focus on motion graphics and narrative storytelling. Kia says “The design we create should always be telling the story, not distracting from it. It’s always about the ideas that are being communicated.” In addition to mastering new design tools and methods, Kia enjoys learning about new topics and fields through her work. Kia recruits and cultivates artists with diverse design styles and sensibilities, helping them to improve and grow their skills.

Kia’s narrative films, music videos and documentaries have played in festivals all over the world. Her documentary Looking for Sly won awards for Best Short Doc at SXSW, LA International Short, and Tortured Artist Film Festival. Her music videos have been in rotation on MTV, and won awards from Zoie Fest and Berkeley Film Festival. The Pacific Pioneer Fund awarded her the Emerging Filmmaker Grant. Both PBS’s video i and Varnish Art Gallery in San Francisco have presented retrospectives of her work. She participated in AFI’s Women Director’s Workshop and in Film Independent’s Director’s Lab and Fast Track Program.



Niema Jordan is a journalist and filmmaker from from Oakland, Calif. Inspired by her love of storytelling and magazines, she attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In 2008, Jordan graduated with a bachelor’s in Magazine Journalism and African-American Studies. Her work has appeared in various publications including ESSENCE, Niema Jordan received a Master of Journalism (Documentary Film) and Master of Public Health (Health and Social Behavior) from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016. Recently, her documentary thesis “Oasis” won the Spike Lee Student Filmmaker Award at the 38th Denver Film Festival.



Anne Smith has a B.A. in English from Northwestern University. She teaches film, animation, photography, and English in the Piedmont Unified School District.



Crystal Williams is a multidisciplinary artist from Oakland, CA who doubles as an Accounting/Finance professional. She’s a proud HBCU alum with a passion for Women’s Health, Filmmaking and mentoring the next generation of creative girls/non binary youth.

Thanks in large part to Reel Stories’ Women’s Filmmaking Weekend, her passion for filmmaking and acting was reignited and her film resume now includes Acting, Writing, Editing and Music Direction credits.



Melissa is an East Bay native currently working at Google as a Global Program Manager on the Women Techmakers team.Through her work she aims to create visibility, community, and resources for women in tech throughout all phases of their career. She has spoken at tech summits and conferences in Morocco, China, Czech Republic, Spain, and across the US. Prior to joining Google, she spent a year in Malaysia on a Fulbright Scholarship. She graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, CA where she majored in American Studies, and minored in Media and Hispanic Studies.

Student Board of Directors

These talented young women are working on a documentary regarding the Times Up Movement, what it means to them and for society as a whole. They are incredibly aware of the significance of the Times Up & Me Too movements, and have profound ideas on the topic. Keep an eye out for the documentary debut coming Spring 2020!









Advisory Board


Feature Film Director


Re-Recording Mixer


Executive Director at The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture

Change the Statistics

Want to see women represented behind the camera and on screen? Join Reel Stories in making that happen. We’re always looking for people to volunteer, companies to partner with, and projects to help turn into reality.



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