Brenda Friend is a two time Emmy-nominated producer who has worked in the television industry for over 30 years. Her company, Old Beantown Films, has produced dozens of telefilms and series pilots, including the award winning and Emmy nominated TNT/Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation of The Ron Clark Story and the CBS miniseries Joan of Arc which received 13 Emmy nominations. Old Beantown Film’s Lifetime Television production of What If God Were the Sun? based in part on the novel by John Edward and adapted by J. Dulin Jones and Jamie Pachino is where she teamed up with Gina Rugolo Judd as executive producer. The film garnered Emmy and SAG awards nominations for actress, Gena Rowlands. Ms. Friend is a member of the Television Academy and served for several years on the Emmy Awards Panel. She has taught screenwriting and production courses for UCLA Writers Extension program and Columbia College Hollywood in addition to guest lecturing at numerous film programs including the American Film Institute, USC, CalArts, and the Emerson College Los Angeles program. She is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory as well as the Neighborhood Playhouse, where she had the privilege of studying with the late Sanford Meisner.
Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the
condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced. Mr. Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. Mr. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality in America. He led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites which opened in 2018, The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The new national landmark institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching and racial segregation and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias. Mr. Stevenson’s work has won him numerous awards including over 40 honorary doctorates, the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Prize and the ABA Medal, the American Bar Association’s highest honor. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government and the author of the award winning New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, which was recently adapted as a major motion picture.