Meet our panelists

Mina Hartong, Host
[she/her/hers] 

Mina taught in public schools for 21 years, so now she can basically do anything! 
Her thirty-year career has taken her from classrooms in New York City’s Public Schools to East Africa to Theater Programs for the Incarcerated in Connecticut. She is known for hosting galas and fundraisers, including Silver Hill Hospital at Cipriani’s in New York City. When she is not in the classroom (virtual or otherwise), Mina performs stand up comedy on national stages. The girl next door who dares to say what is on everyone’s mind, Mina says it with humor, grace and empathy. Mina is a graduate of Smith College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Chris Bolan
Director, A Secret Love
[he/him/his]

Chris Bolan has had a career both on and off-Broadway and has performed as an actor with many top regional theater companies in both the United States and Canada while also working in film and television. In 2016, Bolan was Artistic Director for the critically acclaimed European Premiere production of Oh Hell No! at the Alfo Puccini Theater in Milan, Italy and has directed legendary LGBTQ and Civil Rights Activist David Mixner in three world premiere productions at the Florence Gould Theater in NYC. Bolan directed the critically acclaimed Netflix Original Documentary, A Secret Love, based on a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League made famous by Penny Marshall’s classic film, A League of Their Own. A Secret Love was an official selection of the 2020 SXSW Film Festival and was produced by Ryan Murphy Productions, Blumhouse Television, NowThis, and Beech Hill Films. Bolan is a recipient of the Jerome Foundation Emerging Artists Award for directing and is also a Founding Partner of Sweet T Productions with recent projects including The Sound Inside (Broadway/Studio 54) starring Mary-Louise Parker, The Visitor (The Public Theater) starring David Hyde Pierce, Jitney (Broadway National Tour), and Endlings (New York Theater Workshop). Bolan is a company member of the award-winning New York based Wheelhouse Theater Company, is a member of the Board of Directors for LUMBERYARD Center for Film and Performing Arts and is part of the adjunct faculty in the theater department at Western Connecticut State University. Bolan holds an MFA in acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Rhea Hirshman 
Adjunct Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
University of Connecticut
[she/her/hers]

Rhea is a writer specializing in health, science, public policy, and legal issues, is also an adjunct professor of women’s and gender studies at UConn Stamford. Deeply involved in women’s liberation activities including community education, reproductive rights advocacy, and the arts, she was recognized for her contributions in 2005 by the Connecticut chapter of Veteran Feminists of America. She has been a visiting instructor at Yale — where she taught courses on lesbian culture — and Wesleyan; founded a feminist bookstore in New Haven; does frequent public speaking; and, for several years, wrote a gender issues column for the New Haven Register. In an earlier life, she was a high school English teacher.

Sophie Gourgiotis
Youth & Young Adults Outreach Coordinator
Triangle Community Center
[she/her/hers]

As the Youth & Young Adults Outreach Coordinator at Triangle Community Center, Sophie is responsible for organizing and managing all teen and young adult programming, like summer camp and the weekly drop-in. Sophie also provides case management services to all of the LGBTQ+ community — these services range from employment support, finding long-term housing, and completing the name and gender marker change process, to name a few. Sophie’s position perfectly blends her interest and expertise in program development, community engagement, and LGBTQ activism. She strives to make the world a more friendly and inclusive place and considers it an honor to begin working with TCC and the local community.

Brendan Mason
ProducerA Secret Love

Brendan produced and co-wrote the documentary feature A Secret Love, a Netflix Original Documentary presented by Ryan Murphy. A Secret Love is a triumphant love story about two trailblazing women who break barriers and conventional norms, coming out to their conservative families as they face the difficulties of aging (SXSW ’20 World Premiere, released by Netflix in 2020). His previous film, One Last Thing, starring Wendell Pierce, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Joanne Froggatt, was released by Screen Media Films and BET in 2018 and is currently on Netflix. This is Where We Live premiered in 2013 at SXSW in Narrative Competition and was released in November of 2013. In 2010, he produced Helena From The Wedding, starring Melanie Lynskey and Lee Tergesen, released by Film Movement, and premiering in competition at SXSW. He has also worked on such productions as Run, Fat Boy, Run (Picturehouse), A Hole in One and Jimmy Blue (NYFF ‘06). During his tenure at Beech Hill, Brendan has worked in various capacities in both development and production. Prior to Beech Hill, Mason worked at Paramount Pictures. Longtime producing partners with Alexa L. Fogel at Beech Hill Films, Beech Hill is a New York based Film & Television Production Company whose mission has always been to tell the stories of those who are rarely seen on screen. From their first narrative feature, Jim McKay’s Our Song starring Emmy Award-nominated actress Kerry Washington in her film debut, to their recent expansion into documentary filmmaking, the Netflix original A Secret Love, produced with Ryan Murphy, Beech Hill’s focus has been on character-driven projects that invite audiences into complex worlds tackling characters, themes and relationships that have largely been under-represented in our culture.


 

THANKS TO OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS




 




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