Board & Team
Poppy Jasper International Film Festival
Mattie Scariot – Director
Mattie has been the Festival Director of the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival since 2018, and it has been her vision that has guided the tremendous growth of the festival in the past five years. The festival now spans eight days and five cities: Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, Hollister and San Juan Bautista. This year the festival plans to host more than 250 filmmakers from over 14 countries. It will show approximately 260 short and feature films. It’s because of Mattie’s tireless efforts that Poppy Jasper was named Nonprofit of the Year in 2021 by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce and two MovieMaker Magazine Awards in 2021 and 2022.
Her commitment to film and the arts in general has been an ongoing passion. She was a founding board member of the Gilroy Arts Alliance and a former Arts Commissioner for the City of Gilroy for 10 years. Presently she is the Vice President of CMAP TV and on the Board of Directors for the Gilroy Downtown Business Association. During the pandemic, she partnered with IMAX Theater, MyJamFest, and local businesses and restaurants to host outdoor movie nights. She worked in the film and television industry in LA for 12 years as a Costumer and Writing assistant. Mattie is also a filmmaker and producer who co-owns 152 West Productions.
Mary Ellison – Fund Development Chair
Mary Ellison brings over a decade of experience as a grant writer and fund development coordinator to her role as the Fund Development Chair. As the Marketing and Development Coordinator for the Salinas Public Library, she helped raise over a million dollars to fund programs for adult and family literacy. Several of the programs she developed like “Read. Grow & Play” are still in practice today. She also received a prestigious award from the National Foundation for Family Literacy for an early literacy program she developed. Mary was recently recognized by the Morgan Hill Foundation for her fund raising efforts on behalf of Poppy Jasper Inc. She is a longtime resident of Gilroy with a passion for film, poetry and pottery.
Fran Fitzharris – Hollister and San Juan Bautista Events Manager
Fran Fitzharris is a power-house organizer and community advocate. She is the founder and co-owner of Brewery Twenty Five, a brewery that utilizes ingredients from local businesses. Brewery Twenty Five has its own tasting room in downtown San Juan Bautista. When she is not brewing beer, or making deliveries to restaurants throughout the tri-county area, she is involved in organizations committed to seeing local businesses thrive. She currently chairs the San Juan Bautista Hospitality Committee, and is on the Women’s Fund committee for the San Benito Community Foundation. She has won multiple awards including “Entrepreneur of the Year” and the “Lift Your Spirit Award.” With a long history in hospitality, having worked for many years for Great America in Silicon Valley, she is happy to call San Juan Bautista her home.
Norma Garcia-Muro – Women’s Panel Chair and Juror
Norma Garcia-Muro brings a contagious passion for film, broadcast, theatrical exhibition, and cinema technology to the festival and her joint positions as Women’s Panel Chair and Festival Juror. As Vice President of Marketing at Kaleidescape, a company that provides high-end theater systems to consumers, Norma draws upon her extensive foundation in film marketing to propel Kaleidescape’s growth and revolutionize the home cinema experience. Prior to Kaleidescape, Norma was a Marketing executive for Paramount Pictures, and later transitioned to Lucasfilm Ltd. in San Francisco to become their head of International Marketing where she had strategic oversight of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. She also helped launch George Lucas’ NAACP Image Award-Winning biopic Red Tails.
Norma also has a passion for empowering young women of color within the film industry. She served as a mentor of UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Program and is a member of both Women in Tech and Women in Exhibition. She was the Founder of the Latino Employee Network MUNDO under Dolby’s Diversity and Inclusion program and the Founder of #WomenCOLLAB, a resource-sharing association connecting female entertainment and tech professionals in the Bay Area with the mission statement, “We Rise by Lifting Others.” In 2021 and 2020, Norma was named one of the Top 50 Women in Global Cinema.
Mark Waxman – Marketing Chair
Mark has served as Chief Marketing Officer since 2001 for CBIZ. Prior to joining CBIZ, he was the CEO and Creative Director for one of Silicon Valley’s most well-known advertising agencies, Carter Waxman. Most recently, he was a founding partner of SK Consulting (acquired by CBIZ in 1998), providing strategic marketing and branding services to a wide range of companies and industries. Mark continues to serve as an advisor to several high-growth, early-stage companies.
Mark is also passionate about helping nonprofits and increasing awareness of the power of marketing. He has been a featured columnist and contributor to many businesses and trade publications. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and the West Valley-Mission Foundation. He is a past Chairman of the Board of the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, SV Creates, the San Jose Repertory Theater, and Artsopolis.com.
Paul Johnstone – Creative Director
Paul is a design director and filmmaker, spending much of the last 20 years working at the intersection of entertainment, art, brand & technology. Across a varied career, he has made tv streaming experiences and global film & TV art campaigns, directed narrative films, promos, title sequences & photoshoots, and built creative teams, studios & even a pop-up film poster shop.
Johanna Calderon-Dakin and Shari Mesulam
The Mesulam Group – Communications and Public Relations
Christa Gugliemelli – Event Coordinator for the Poppy Bash & Closing Ceremony at Eden Rift
Christa is the Founder & CEO of Magnetic Magnificent Events & Incentives, LLC. With over 15 years of experience in the events industry, Christa prides herself on creating world-class events, creating a ‘Wow” for attendees. Magnetic Magnificent Events is a published and award-winning event agency specializing in destination events, conferences, incentive trips, fundraisers, and luxury weddings.
Jeff Dixon – Volunteer Chair
Jeff currently serves as co-chair of the Freedom Fest Fireworks on the Green, and served as the Vice President for 5 years, and President for 8 years. In 2004, Jeff founded the South Valley Flag Football League and continues to operate it. Since 2008, he has served as the Morgan Hill Youth Sports Alliance President. During his tenure with the alliance, he managed the Outdoor Sports Center, opening the fields to local kids for play during the week, supporting soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse and field hockey. Jeff currently works for the Bay Area Panthers in Team Operations and was recently named 2022 Man of the Year by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce.
Rosie Poliquin – Treasurer
Rosie is a South Bay native with generational ties to Gilroy. Living in Gilroy for the last 12 years, Rosie has been devoted to helping families meet their real estate goals across the Bay. Over the last few years, she has expanded her business into the financial services industry where she provides free financial education to all. Rosie is passionate about supporting the community through her brand, The South County Lifestyle where she highlights local events and brings awareness of small businesses to the public.
Kelly De La Rosa – Special Events Chair
Kelly has worked for Netflix for the past 13 years and is a Senior AP Resolution Specialist for Netflix. She is also the owner of Graze Life California, a small catering company that specializes in charcuterie. She is a graduate of Leadership Gilroy and is passionate about movies and PJIFF.
Guillermo Gomez – Assistant Programmer and Content Creator
Guillermo works part-time as a film maker and video editor. Over the years, he has developed a keen eye for directing and loves his work as an editor where he says he has “an impeccable sense of timing.” A graduate of De Anza College’s Film and TV program, Guillermo has worked on many types of videos, including documentaries and animated shorts. He also has done his share of weddings, dance recitals, music videos, and trailers. Guillermo joined PJIFF in 2020 and has taught the “Stop-motion Animation” class for youth. He is delighted to be assisting with the screening of film submissions for our 2023 festival.
Shanshan Whittall – Chinese Filmmaker Showcase Chair
Brian Goldenberg – Sponsorship Committee Chair
Daniel Dy-Liacco – Website
For the past 5 years, Daniel Dy-Liacco has been donating his time building and updating our website. He works on the website on his days off and after a full day of work at his regular job. His devotion to accuracy and his aesthetic sensibilities with design have been an absolute gift. We know our filmmakers and communities appreciate it. As an all-volunteer film festival, it’s people like Daniel that have helped us become so successful.
Shawna Khorsani – Assistant to the Director
Shawna Khorasani is an independent filmmaker who loves telling queer feel-good stories. She considers herself passionate about positive and accurate LGBTQ+ media representation and strives to deliver that in her works. Shawna graduated with two English Literature degrees but discovered her passion for film and story-telling in her last year of college. She adapted, wrote, produced, and directed a modern literary web series based on Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. From there, she dedicated herself to learning everything she could about the film industry. From taking classes to working on sets to networking and making connections, Shawna loved every second of it. Her award-winning lesbian romcom “LoverGirl” was a major hit in film festivals in 2020. Shawna’s new romance short “Popping the Question” premiered on various streaming platforms in the summer of 2021. Original and unique stories about women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and other marginalized groups inspire her to keep telling them.
Nan Su – Virtual Reality Chair
Nan Su is the Chair of the XR (VR, MR, AR) Program. As an independent filmmaker, Nan is enjoying her time writing, directing, producing, and doing post-production on film, TV, and virtual reality projects. She is also teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design. Nan has experience working in the festival world, including the San Francisco International Film Festival and San Francisco Green Film Festival. She holds an MFA in Film from the California College of the Arts.
David Fent – Podcast Producer
David is the the Producer of PJIFF’s new Podcast “Art In Motion.” David began his career in the video and film industry, and has worked on multiple projects ranging from corporate videos to animated films such as Antz and Shrek. After 13 years at PDI-DreamWorks, David is trying his hand at voice acting and is working as a live sound engineer.
PJIFF’s “Art In Motion” will be a weekly podcast that features in-depth conversations with industry professionals, celebrities, and filmmakers who will be attending PJIFF’s 16th annual festival, April 6th – 13th. We look forward to sharing this new series that we’ve been working on for the past couple of months and will be announcing our first guest soon!
Bill Leaman – Founder