Current Youth Program Team
Aleta started with Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking in 2016 and later became a filmmaking mentor in 2020. As a film mentor, she taught young filmmakers to make films on subjects such as environmental justice, working towards a resilient Hawaii, mental wellness, and racial justice.
Alexa (Lex) Springer
Alexa (Lex) grew up on North Shore of Oʻahu and graduated from Kahuku in 2019. She works hard to create careers out of her biggest passions - some of which are intersectional feminism, lgbtq+ rights, reviewing & analyzing films, supporting women in film, dog-sitting, photography, running small businesses, and creating her own films.
Alexa St. Martin
Alexa St. Martin, MSW is a social worker, therapist, educator, researcher, musician, dancer, and writer. She is a fierce advocate for social justice education, with a particular passion for adolescent sexual health, school-based sexual health education, reproductive rights, and consent.
Arminda Gandara focuses on access to arts and education. Originally from Texas. Gandara comes with extensive experience in community building, museum education and program development. In her free time she loves to swim, eat spam musubi and foster dogs in her home.
Emily is a current senior at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa studying communication. She has been a part of the Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking program since she was 11 years old, starting off as a participant then working her way up to being a filmmaking mentor.
Inez Anderson has been making films with Hawaii Women in Filmmaking since 2017, participating in multiple filmmaking programs as well as working on the HWF team as a filmmaking mentor. Committed to HWF's message of gender justice in filmmaking, their work has covered a variety of social justice issues, including body positivity, gun control, and the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth.
Jaime Cortez was born and raised in Mililani, Hawai’i. She began making films with Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking in 2021 as a Reel Camp participant and is currently working as a filmmaking mentor. In the fall, she will be attending Chapman University to study Film and Creative Producing. Through her films, she aims to amplify the voices of underrepresented populations while empowering future generations.
Jessilyn is passionate about filmmaking and is inspired by HWF’s work. They hope to bring about change and help others via creative media. They are especially dedicated to LGBTQ+ and disability advocacy.
Jessie is a current Sophomore at Emerson College in Boston studying Media Arts Production. They have been working with HWF since 2019 as a Filmmaking Mentor, and also interned for Season 3 of Reel Wāhine of Hawaiʻi. Jessie is a passionate filmmaker and editor dedicated to bringing more diverse and inclusive stories to the big screen. They are especially passionate about telling stories that include intersectionality, LGBT+ voices, disability rights, and more.
Katie Young-Caldwell is a social worker, writer, teacher, and activist. She has worked with women and girls for over two decades and specializes in gender violence. She teaches women's studies and social work at UH Mānoa and Hawai'i Community College. Katie is an intersectional feminist and works as a social worker and outreach coordinator for Hawai'i Women in Filmmaking. She loves cats, pizza, and running.
Keana Alea Nisbet
A graduate of the University of Hawaii’s at Manoa’s Academy for Creative Media, Keana is a cinematographer and filmmaker dedicated to telling diverse stories and exploring the human condition. Working both commercially and independently, she specializes in producing, cinematography, and colour grading. She is passionate about equality and aims to affect change through the creation of impactful, thought-provoking social commentary films.
Martha Nicholas, born and raised in Honolulu, began her journey in middle school where she made creative documentaries for her school’s newspaper, local broadcasting companies, and non-profit organizations throughout her high school and college experience. Martha was first involved with Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking through the Making Media That Matters program and has since been interning with Reel Wāhine, fellowed in the Wāhine in Film Lab, and currently mentoring. Continuing as a third-year student at UH Mānoa double majoring in Cinema Studies and American Studies, Martha hopes to continue developing films that can inspire future generations.
Ngaio Simmons is a writer and performer born and raised on the island of O’ahu. With a degree in English from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, her work focuses primarily on themes of diaspora, identity conflict, and home. Her writing has been featured in Public Journal, Contemporary Verse, Ora Nui, Flux Hawai’i, and is forthcoming in Bamboo Ridge Press. She is the writer in residence for HWF.
Filmmaker Mentor and Instructor
Noa Helela is a hapa Hawaiian-Asian-European multimedia artist who has worked with HWIF since 2016 as a writing instructor and film mentor. Her work includes filmmaking, playwriting, music, and poetry. Most of her projects involve fantasy realism and dark humor, with intersectional themes including mixed racial identity, diaspora, native issues, racism/racial violence, colonization, feminism, queer relationships, and trans identity. She also likes video games and taking way too many selfies.
Founder and Executive Director
For over 10 years, Vera has been advocating for gender justice in filmmaking through an intersectional lens. Vera founded Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking in 2011 to provide a space for wāhine filmmakers to connect, collaborate, and support each other. In 2017, Vera launched the production of Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i, a short doc film series that redresses gender inequity in the film industry by documenting the real-life stories of Hawai‘i women filmmakers.