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Congratulations to long-time staff members Sean McManus and Josh Welsh for their appointment today as Co-Presidents of Film Independent. Independent filmmakers know both men well as McManus has been serving as Senior Director and Welsh the Director of Artist Development. The two men replace Dawn Hudson, who left FIND to become the CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The press release, issued today, follows:


LOS ANGELES (January 10, 2012) — Today, the Film Independent Board Chairman Bill Condon announced that Senior Director Sean Mc Manus and Director of Artist Development Josh Welsh have been appointed to newly created positions of Co-Presidents. They succeed Executive Director Dawn Hudson, who departed in June to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as CEO. In their new positions, Mc Manus and Welsh will work together to lead the organization and run its year-round programs that nurture independent filmmakers and expand the audience in which their work can be appreciated.

“The Board of Directors and staff are delighted to have Sean and Josh as Co-Presidents. They are a seasoned team whose skills and expertise complement one another beautifully. They collectively possess 25 years of experience, in every area of the organization, and it’s clear they have a shared vision that will take Film Independent to its next level of growth. We’re confident they will build upon the solid foundation Dawn established and will successfully usher Film Independent into the future,” said Condon.

“Josh and I are incredibly passionate about Film Independent and its mission, and we are eager to step into our new roles and jointly lead the organization’s robust portfolio of programs. We are also deeply appreciative of Dawn and her 20-year legacy of creating a uniquely warm and welcoming organizational culture. Dawn instilled core values in us and in Film Independent, especially freedom of expression, artistic excellence, inclusiveness and accessibility. We are honored to follow in her footsteps and are ready to move full steam ahead,” said Mc Manus.

“Sean and I have a long track-record developing and administering programs together, so this will be a very natural transition for us and for the staff,” said Welsh. “We’ve inherited a thriving organization with a strong, committed team in place on the Board and on the staff. I’m so excited to work with Sean in this capacity as we continue to expand existing programs and develop new ways in which Film Independent can provide vital support to the independent film community.”

“Selecting a new permanent leader for Film Independent one of the most important decisions our Board has ever made. We took it very seriously and explored many candidates. We found ourselves uniquely inspired by Sean and Josh’s complimentary talents, their complete dedication, and their combined potential to strengthen Film Independent’s existing programs while developing new initiatives to serve filmmakers’ needs. It became clear to the Search Committee that creating a shared leadership position was the best possible way to expand the organization’s reach and carry it into the future,” said Search Committee Co-Chair and Board of Directors member Alan Poul.

Sean Mc Manus has nearly 20 years of experience building organizations that have come to make a meaningful impact in both the domestic and international film and non-profit worlds. He joined Film Independent in 1998 as Development Director and was promoted to Senior Director in 2006, overseeing 36 full-time staff members and more than 100 contract employees including management and administration, fund development, marketing and communications, technology, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Los Angeles Film Festival and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series. He has played a key role in engaging and galvanizing stakeholders, resulting in the expansion of the organization’s annual budget from approximately $1.6 million to more than $8.5 million, in addition to securing $3.5 million in yearly in-kind contributions. Mc Manus began his career in the non-profit sector as a development professional, advancing over five years in positions of increasing responsibility at USC and serving for one year as the Director of Major Gifts at AFI.

Outside of his professional efforts at Film Independent, Mc Manus is the Chairman Emeritus, having served two terms as Chairman of the Board of Directors and ten years as a Board Member, at The Trevor Project, a national non-profit organization determined to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Under his leadership, the organization was nationally accredited as the expert in its field and was recently honored for its service by the President of the United States. He is a graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business and grew up in Rochester, New York with longstanding family ties to the Eastman Kodak Company. He lives with his long-time partner and their beloved Wheaten Terrier, Camden, in the Hollywood Hills.

For the last ten years, Josh Welsh has been responsible for the overall design, strategic planning and implementation of all of Film Independent’s Artist Development programs. They include the Filmmaker Labs for Directors, Screenwriters, Producers and Documentarians, Fast Track, and the Grants Program, and four years administering Film Independent’s signature diversity program, Project Involve. Welsh designed the curriculum for all of the Labs and has overseen the selection of all Film Independent Fellows since 2001. In addition, he has been Film Independent’s year-round industry liaison for filmmakers in the Artist Development programs and maintains relationships with many of its alumni. Welsh also manages the Grants Program, which includes Donor Named Fellowships, Sloan Producers Grants and in-kind grants. In 2009-2010, he oversaw the Netflix FIND Your Voice competition and is currently administering the selection of writers and designing the curriculum for the Fox Writer’s Intensive with Fox Studios.

Prior to working on the Filmmaker Labs, Josh was in Film Independent’s Programming Department where he helped select films for the Festival Buzz, Documentary Buzz and New Visions Screening Series. He worked with the Spirit Award Nominating Committees, as well as the blue-ribbon committees that determine winners of cash grants at the Spirit Awards. He has been a judge for UCLA’s Screenwriting Showcase and the Outfest Screenwriting Competition, a juror for the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, served as thesis advisor in UCLA’s graduate producing program, and has spoken on numerous panels and at film schools. Before moving to Los Angeles, Josh earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Philosophy from Kenyon College. He lives with his wife Bonnie Gavel and their daughter Isla, and in his spare time he is lead singer in the alt-country band Meatyard, whose second album, Sweet Old Green Life, came out in 2010.

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