Also a founder of the IFF, Patti has created and operated several businesses and spearheaded various volunteer projects. She was a direct marketing consultant for many Washington publishers and others. Patti served as a Peace Corps Volunteer to Thailand 1962-64. She believes in the power of a small group of committed individuals to bring about change in attitudes and policies.

Kathleen Madigan

Kathleen is a management consultant and executive coach who has spent her career helping organizations and their leaders accomplish goals. She has been a volunteer docent at several DC art museums and served on the board of a number of non profit organizations. Kathleen is an eager student of film aesthetics and history and believes strongly in film as a powerful influence on social change.

Patti Absher, Co-chair, Marketing/PR


Judith Johnson, Chair 2016 Festival


One of the founders of the Immigration Film Festival, Judith was the former CEO of a large nonprofit for 25 years. She has run many conferences and events. She brings her extensive knowledge of budgeting and program evaluation to the IFF.

An immigrant himself from Chile, Rod has his own business in design and construction. He is familiar with the immigrant experience and sees up close the difficulties immigrants face trying to work and maintain a family under unfavorable immigration policies, especially those working in the construction industry.

Meet the TEAM

We are a group of unpaid volunteers working year-round to produce an annual film festival bringing stories of immigrants and refugees to Capital area audiences.

 The Immigration Film Festival is under the wing of the Washington Ethical Society, a nonprofit, humanistic religious congregation. Since it serves as the Festival’s fiscal sponsor, all donations are 100% tax free and dedicated exclusively to the Festival.​

Rod Brana, Program Director

Julie Campbell

Julie has been an active volunteer fundraiser throughout her adult life. For many years she was a leader of Stanford University’s Annual Fund effort in the Washington area and in 1991 received Stanford’s highest volunteer award. She has also served as chair of the Washington Ethical Society’s annual pledge drive a number of times and is a past president of the WES Board of Trustees.


Our goal is to put faces on immigrants and tell the stories of global immigration through film, the most popular of media. We do this not only to entertain but also to inform and inspire action. We live in an interconnected web of being. Recognizing this, we aim to motivate viewers to take action to correct the injustices that lead to migration and the dislocations that result from immigration.

Chairs and Directors


Charlotte Jones Carroll

Charlotte, a retired international development specialist who has lived in Latin America, has been involved in the past decade with nonprofits that support the health, early education and cultural needs of immigrants. She also has connections to local universities. As a long-time film lover, she is convinced of the power of film to reach the hearts of audience members and inspire them to action.

Aldo Bello
Aldo Bello is an Emmy award-winning documentary film director, television producer and co-owner of Mind & Media, Inc, a strategic communications and media company located in Alexandria, VA. Since 1994, Mind & Media has been providing comprehensive media strategy and full production services to help federal government, commercial and nonprofit clients solve large-scale and complex communication challenges.  

January 2013  - Washington Ethical Society (WES) members pass a resolution seeking to further immigration policy change.

March 2013 - Sign in front of WES building goes up proclaiming, “WES says YES to a path to citizenship for 11 million”

June 2013  - Members agree to launch the first Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival.

October 2013 - WES Steering Committee seeks and finds partners at local Unitarian congregations. Search for grants is underway. Dates are set for first festival to take place in 2014.

October 2014 - First Immigration Film Festival screens 13 films at 12 locations in the DC Metro area. More than 900 people came to see the films.

December 2014 - Evaluation study based on 41% of filmgoers providing feedback showed a majority of the respondents endorsed the festival calling it valuable on many levels.

October 2015 - The second Immigration Film Festival expands to include movies from all over the world and draws a greater number of filmgoers, some 1600, to 15 feature films and two shorts programs. All films were followed by discussions with film directors, immigration experts and journalists. Local and national media coverage was outstanding.

December 2015 - The executive team reflects on successes and missteps to draw up a plan for the third Immigration Film Festival to take place Oct 20 over four days. To build awareness and traffic more films to be screened in downtown DC.

February 2016 - Contract signed for Saturday night Gala and Screening at George Washington University.