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Our Staff


Cinema Ed staff members, volunteers and mentors work year round on various projects that seek to empower young filmmakers across many platforms.

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Deborah Davis Ford
Chief Operating Officer

Deborah Davis Ford (she/her) brings an impressive 25-year record of corporate experience in the field of personnel training/development and client management to her civic engagements. She was elected to the Board of Trustees of South Orange Village in May 2007 and was appointed Clerk of the Board of Essex County Chosen Freeholders in 2009. Deborah is also a past member of the Newark Rotary Club (where she served as the first female president from 1993-1994), served on the Executive Board of North Jersey Jack and Jill,, and is a past member of the Regional Business Partnership, the NJ Transit Advisory Board, the Cancer Care Advisory Board, as well as a past President of the Greater Newark Chamber Small Business Council and Past Chairperson of Partners in Education and Quality. She attended Northeastern University and Rutgers University and is most proud of her family. She is married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of a recent college graduate.

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Richard Stephen Bell
Executive Director

Richard (he/him) works directly with schools to help mentor students by providing expertise in the classroom to assist in film production and coordination with various Cinema Ed projects. In addition to his work at Cinema Ed, Richard is also a screenwriter, actor and filmmaker. His feature length scripts have placed in such prestigious competitions as the Austin Film Festival, Nicholl Fellowships for Screenwriting (run by the Academy Awards), Final Draft Big Break, BlueCat Screenplay Contest, Creative World Awards and Coppola’s Zoetrope.  He has also written and starred in an award-winning short film, "Bartleby 2013", based on Herman Melville's short story, and was on the production team of “Shy Guys” a hilarious new short film that has appeared in over 40 film festivals.  Written and directed by veteran actor Fredric Lehne (Tallulah, Zero Dark Thirty, Men in Black, among many others) it stars Tony Winner Reed Birney (The Humans, House of Cards and many more).  Richard’s acting exploits can be seen on television, in film, on stage and on the internet. Richard is most passionate about his work with student filmmakers, who are our future creative leaders.

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Amaris Mitchell
Director of Community Affairs

Amaris (she/her) is a writer, film director, connector, and coach to grassroots organizers within and outside the nonprofit realm. She works together with Cinema Ed's community partners to create and advance filmmaking programs that prepare local youth for careers in the film industry. She has also served as a Cinema Ed mentor. Early in her career, Amaris worked as a Production Assistant for Food Network shows Cooks vs. Cons and Carlos' Bakery, both shot in New Jersey. As a great communicator and connector, Amaris got her big break into scripted TV through an artist mixer hosted by Creative Capital. She landed a Writers' Production Assistant (PA) position on STARZ P-Valley. As a Writers' PA, Amaris assisted renowned playwright and showrunner Katori Hall, a host of writers, and fellow support staff in helping develop a play into a television series. As a new series with a story based around dancers centralized in the Mississippi Delta, the first season took two years to develop. While working as an assistant, Amaris was a member of Newark Women in Film, where she wrote and directed her first short film 'An Uber Ride.' The film was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2020 Newark International Film Festival. It was a pathway for Amaris to recruit and practice filmmaking with friends, family, and local artists in the area. 


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Nina-Simone Crawford
Friday Mentor

Nina-Simone (she/her) is Cinema Ed's "Friday Mentor" at Orange High School. She works directly with Orange HS students to improve their filmmaking skills for future careers in film and other industries. She is an independent filmmaker originally from Orange, NJ. In 2020 she graduated from John P Stevens High School in Edison, then enrolled at The New School in New York. Nina-Simone first began making photo series in 2018 where she covered topics from motion sickness to self-expression, and deeper topics such as bullying and vulnerability in the black community. She then started to incorporate videography by writing and directing trailers for her series’. Her love for filmmaking grew over the years which led up to her writing and directing two independent short films, ‘The Cleaning Lady’ and ‘Vegan Diet’, which were featured at the 2022 SOMA Film Festival. Nina-Simone has proudly collaborated with Cinema Ed and Drew University for the past 4 years where she’s worked on six short films. 

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