In 2012 Emmy-award winning documentary filmmakers and producers Dana Cook and Sarah Moshman asked themselves, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?” The answer was simple — make a feature documentary with an all-female film crew about inspirational women throughout the country. The result was an IndieFlix documentary The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things. The film follows five female filmmakers that journeyed across America to encourage, empower and inspire the next generation of strong women to go after their career ambitions.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the film was presented on March 26 at the Charles B. Wang Center Theater. On this rainy night, more than 120 local area high school and middle school students, Girl Scouts, undergraduate students, medical students, nursing students, medical residents, nurses and local area physicians attended this event. The evening opened with a free dinner sponsored by Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) with an exhibit area showcasing representatives from Stony Brook Undergraduate Admissions, American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), WISE and the Program in Public Health (PPH).
Internal medicine resident Dr. Christine Garcia brought together partners from PPH, AMWA and WISE to help bring this documentary and the filmmakers to Stony Brook. After the film, a panel discussion facilitated by Drs. Nancy Franklin and Anne Moyer from the Department of Psychology was held with leaders from the Stony Brook community. They were joined by Dana Cook and Sarah Moshman, and panelists from SBU, including:
- Allison J. McLarty, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery; Associate Program Director, General Surgery; Surgical Director, Left Ventricular Assist Device Program
- Evonne Kaplan-Liss, MD, MPH, FAAP, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine, Program in Public Health, School of Journalism, and Pediatrics; Director, Pediatric Environmental Center of Excellence; Steering Committee, Alda Center for Communicating Science
- Laurie T. Krug, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Stony Brook Discovery Prize Fellow
- Morgan DiCarlo, Undergraduate Civil Engineering Student; Member of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE); ASCE National New Face of Civil Engineering 2015 Collegiate
- Anna Lubitz, Graduate Student, Program in Public Health and MBA program; MBA Association President; Former Undergraduate Student Government President
Panelists discussed major themes in the film and shared their own stories regarding their experiences and challenges in achieving their ambitious careers. Audience members also actively participated and asked many questions.
Event sponsors included Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Dean of the School of Medicine and Senior Vice President of Health Sciences; Dr. Lisa Benz-Scott, Director of the Program in Public Health; Dr. Charles Robbins, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of the Undergraduate Colleges; AMWA and WISE.
The event planning committee included Dr. Garcia , Dr. Benz-Scott , Joanmarie Maniaci (PPH), Eileen Zappia (PPH), Jadry Gruen (AMWA, School of Medicine), Jacqueline Gatta (WISE), Anna Lubitz, Dr. Susan Lane (Internal Medicine), Kelsie Phelan (AMWA, School of Medicine), Paula Askalsky (AMWA, School of Medicine) and volunteers from Harvey Longitudinal Learning Committee.
Through this interdisciplinary collaboration, a free screening was donated by Indieflix for an additional screening for Brentwood high school and middle school students.