Steve is Founder and Global Chair of Freeland, and a native of Green Lake. He graduated from GLHS in 1980, went on to get his Bachelor and Master’s Degrees at Grinnell College and George Washington University, then ventured out internationally to study and address threats to human and environmental security. He conducted investigations into wars in Afghanistan, Central America, and Africa, as well as human trafficking in the former Soviet Union and USA, exposing the links between narcotics, arms and wildlife trafficking. Eventually he formed Freeland in order to address the increasing convergence of criminal threats to people and wildlife by helping to converge good governmental and civil society responses. Based in Bangkok and a roaming suitcase, Steve and his sister Evelyn set up Freeland USA in Green Lake at Town Square in 2016. Steve has been featured in The New York Times, on Anderson Cooper, Al Jazeera and National Geographic.
Dawn has worked in various departments at over a dozen different film festivals in the US, including the Sundance Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. Her passion lies in film exhibition; she strives to create an inviting and technically sound environment for filmmakers to showcase their films, and a place for communities to come together and have shared experiences in cinemas.
As the Event Coordinator for Freeland Film Festival, Evelyn wears many hats. She has lived in Green Lake the past 18 years, and is absolutely passionate about Green Lake and its Community. She is an avid volunteer for the Chamber of Commerce and the Thrasher Opera House, in addition to being a board member of the Green Lake Town Square. She also finds the time to be an active member of her Church and sits on the Park and Recreation committee for the City of Green Lake. Her ability to network with the community has been an asset, and her goal is to bring this film festival to fruition and make Green Lake what it is intended to be-the Sundance of the Midwest!
A longtime Green Lake visitor, Rich is based out of Chicago, working at the production company he founded, Sedgwick Productions. Now with over 4 decades of filmmaking, Rich has produced for Fortune 500s and tiny not-for-profits. His stories and documentaries have helped the US Conference of Mayors, the Council for Community Based Development, Major League Baseball, The US Postal Service, Northwestern University, and most of Chicago’s museums and sports teams. Rich’s work in environmentalism and preservation includes The Experimental Aircraft Association, REI, The Green Lake Conservancy, The Green Lake Association, Camp Grow, and Town Square. Sedgwick Productions has numerous awards and has been aired on Comcast, PBS, Discovery Networks, BTN, CNN, TLC, and BBC.
Photographer, writer and filmmaker Molly Ferrill has traveled around the world to tell stories about the changing relationship between people and nature. She works with Freeland to document international human and wildlife trafficking issues, and received a National Geographic Explorers grant to document the unique relationship between people and elephants in Myanmar, where the landscape is changing quickly because of rapid development. Both her photography and writing have been featured in National Geographic magazine, and she has also contributed to National Geographic Television, The Discovery Channel, and several news agencies.
For the last six years the focus of Sytsma’s work has been documentary filmmaking that contributes to the universal good. While giving a platform to ordinary people who express a specific socio/political concern his work strengthens community and informs audiences of the actions and consequences at the ground level. Originally trained as an experimental storyteller and cinematographer, he’s worked in a variety capacities in social issue filmmaking. His work has been shown on PBS, Al Jazeera, and in film festivals around the world. Sytsma’s vision is to create intimate and impactful storytelling that evokes empathy and incubates change for the greater good of humanity.
Kurt Sensenbrenner is the director and producer of “From Mass to the Mountain”, a feature documentary about Ripon-native Father Wally Kasuboski and his work on water systems in rural Panama. Sensenbrenner is currently based in Frederick, Maryland where he works as a video producer for the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association (AOPA) a non-profit, membership based organization that works to improve aviation safety, preserve community airports, and connect pilots with NGOs who need planes to access, and provide for, people in remote locations. As a Ripon-native himself, Sensenbrenner is honored to help Freeland start a film festival in Green Lake.
Claire Lind, originally from Berlin, WI, is a public school teacher for English Language Learning (ELL) students in the Milwaukee area. She is an advocate for immigrant and refugee rights and voices. Having spent a few years doing seasonal jobs around the world, she still travels every chance she gets in foreign lands and remote landscapes. As a Fulbright alumni, with a Middle Eastern Studies background, Lind believes cross-cultural exchanges and education are the culmination of the human experience and a grounds for social change
Thomas Eddy is a biologist and botanist. He is a “retired” educator, but continues to teach as an adjunct biology professor for Marian University and UW Colleges. When not teaching, he can be found collecting plants, writing, and photographing “natural capital”, which is the title of his first photography exhibit.
Thomas is a founding member of the Green Lake Conservancy land trust where he serves as VP for Conservation. He is a former President of the Botanical Club of Wisconsin and currently serves as an appointed member of Wisconsin’s Natural Areas Preservation Council.
Luis graduated as a director from Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (México). An interview he conducted in 2011 with Apitchapong Weerasethakul inspired him to write and direct “The Last Veil” a short film launched in 2013 and screened at the 2014 Critic’s Week at Cannes Film Festival. “Mi Sangre Enarbolada (A Family Love Story)” is his first feature length documentary, which tells the journey through the mourning of the simultaneous death of his mother and his uncle and their remaining presence in him and the others who loved them, this film has been shown in more than 20 film festivals around the world. He lived in Bangkok Thailand from 2015-2017, where he made a series of short documentaries on wildlife crime and human rights issues, in Southeast Asia, India and China for Freeland. He currently lives in Mexico City where he’s preparing his first narrative feature film and working actively as a director.
A marketing student turned conservation campaigner.
Working in a marketing field for few years, the only excitement was the increase in sale performance. It felt great but not satisfying. I decided to quit and enter the world of NGO. At Freeland, it is the first time I feel great working. It is much more challenging to sell our goal in helping people and animals than to sell a bottle of shampoo. Finally I can use my marketing knowledge to speak for animals and people in need. Every rescue of animals and people ensure me that I am doing a good thing. And those memories remind me of what we, people at Freeland and those in this field, are trying to do, to protect and to save. It is not anyone’s job to stop trafficking but everyone’s, and I am glad that I am a part of this efforts to bring an end to wildlife trafficking and human slavery.