Board of Directors / Staff



Partner, Alta Global Media
Catalyst Board of Directors
Los Angeles, CA

Award winning Manager/Producer Steven Adams is a Founding Partner at Alta Global Media where he represents international media companies and talent. Adams is a producer on the Netflix Original adaptation of Roger Guenveur Smith’s solo performance piece RODNEY KING and the Peabody Award winning A HUEY P NEWTON STORY for Starz, both directed by Academy Award winner Spike Lee. Adams recently collaborated on the marketing of 2 seasons Spike Lee’s hit series Netflix SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, and the Academy Award winning BLACKKKLANSMAN.


Adams served for 4 years as a VFX Executive Producer with Paris-based VFX house BUF. His credits there include such Academy Award winners as James Cameron’s AVATAR, Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI, THOR for Marvel Studios, as well as GREEN LANTERN, GREEN HORNET, Stephen Sommers’ ODD THOMAS, and Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS.



Founder & CEO, New Market Discovery Foundation
Catalyst Board of Directors
Baltimore, MD

Meryam Bouadjemi is an Algerian-American Producer, Director and Entrepreneur from Baltimore, MD, and is the Founder and CEO of the New Market Discovery Foundation, an institution that empowers visionary, regional creatives to participate in the new content economy.


Previously, Meryam produced CHARM CITY, a feature documentary that was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2019. Meryam is a graduate of USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program, where she won the program’s Marketing Award in 2020. She is a Strategic Consultant for the Sundance Institute’s Episodic Program.

As the CEO of the New Market Discovery Foundation, Meryam sources intellectual property, and develops visionary creatives from disconnected, middle-markets. New Market Discovery Foundation’s Frontier Fund has raised, and will deploy in 2021, $100,000 to advance the development and sale of a slate of creator-driven television products.



Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
Catalyst Board of Directors
Duluth, MN

Rondi’s business career was marked by variety. She began by teaching Freshman Composition while working on a graduate degree in English literature, then moved to assist her Father in a heavy construction business, and then went on to start, grow and sell two businesses focused on environmental protection. She briefly retired, but was lured back to be the CEO of a venture backed technology firm being spun out of the University of Minnesota.

Along side her business career, Rondi kept active with business and volunteer boards mostly focused on entrepreneurship or education, including: Minnesota Humanities Center (Chair), Citizens League Task Force on Higher Education (Co-Chair), Minnesota High Technology Association, Minnesota Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, Governor Ventura’s Council on Entrepreneurship, Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, St Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, ,Gov. Carlson’s Minnesota Sustainable Development Roundtable, and Gov. Perpich’s Committee on Entrepreneurship.



Chief Production Officer, Upper Midwest Film Office
Catalyst Board of Directors
Duluth, MN

Riki has been working in the Film and Broadcast Industry for entire career. She began with her own talk show on KQRS Radio in Minneapolis while still in high school and went on to the commercial industry in Minneapolis as On Camera and Voice Over Talent. McManus continued as an agent and then became the Director of Plaza Three Model and Talent Agency.


She opened the first casting company in Minnesota, Riki Wuolle Casting Company, where Purple Rain was the first feature she casted.  Since then, she has cast approximately 20 feature films. She won a Clio Award for a self-promotion piece she did with The Fallon Agency in Minneapolis for her company. McManus was part of a group of founders for a Film Office in Minnesota and has served as past President as well as Interim Director of the organization.


Since moving to Duluth, McManus and IRRRB Commissioner Mark Philips (formerly MN Power) started the Upper MN Film Office in 1996 as a public/private partnership.  



Founder & CEO Daymaker Productions
Catalyst Board of Directors
Pueblo, CO

Sofia has been on production teams for various networks, production companies, award shows, development and casting teams for over 11 years. Her experience includes working with federally funded organizations, independent projects, big brand content, viral videos and original content with companies such as Lionsgate's LOL Network, Defy Media, MTV and others.

Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Sofia found mentors who gave her the opportunity to help launch and establish their independent production company called Dream Factory Entertainment where she became head producer in 2012. The six micro budget feature films she and the team produced there were released internationally and domestically by the following distributors: Direct TV , NBC Universal VOD , Hulu, , Best Buy , Amazon , Itunes, Walmart, , Redbox and Google Play and more.


Her early career and life experiences inspired Sofia to launch her company in 2015. Daymaker Productions is an independent company where Art, Marketing, Philanthropy and talented, innovative
minds meet.



Senior Producer of Global Content Strategy, UNICEF
Catalyst Board of Directors
New York, NY

At UNICEF, Priyanka's work involves the development and production of original video content that aims to generate and maintain public interest in children’s rights. She oversees all aspects of the production process and works on video strategy across platforms.


Priyanka has been instrumental in transforming the substantive and stylistic ways in which UNICEF uses visual storytelling to convey its message, drive advocacy, reach new audiences and deepen engagement with existing audiences. Priyanka develops creative guidance for video crews as well as production companies involved in content creation. She has been UNICEF's creative lead for award-winning videos produced with global agencies including McCann, 180 LA and Grey.

Priyanka has travelled around the world for UNICEF and covered some of the biggest crises in recent years. She has produced hundreds of videos, interviewed activists, diplomats, UN officials, celebrities such as Shakira, Orlando Bloom, Novak Djokovic and Katy Perry. Priyanka has scripted and produced TV spots on emergencies that have aired on CNN and Al Jazeera. She has also worked on partnerships that have resulted in the placement of UNICEF’s video content with digital sites including AJ+, Guardian, Mashable, Upworthy, Buzzfeed.



Founder of ITVFest; Producer
Catalyst Board of Directors
Los Angeles, CA

AJ Tesler (Director, Producer) is the founder and president of Peak Curiosity, a Los Angeles-based production company. As a director and producer AJ Tesler has built a thriving business producing for Netflix, Comedy Central, Lionsgate, Sony, FTVS, VH1, MTV, History Channel, CBS Studios and more.


Since online content has grown up, AJ has been an architect of its growth, first founding the Independent Television Festival (now Catalyst) and subsequently helping launch the production arm at one of the first MCNs, Big Frame, running production at Jash, (the digital collective founded by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera and Adam Carolla), helping enterprises like Omaze build a production infrastructure, and helping established traditional companies move in to the digital space.

AJ recently finished his narrative feature directing debut titled HERO'S MODE, which stars Sean Astin and Mira Sorvino set to release in 2021.  His award winning documentary about his daughter who lives with Rett Syndrome, MAGNOLIA'S HOPE, will be released in 2022.



CEO/Executive Director at Catalyst
Duluth, MN

Philip's creative career began at a young age making short family films on VCR tapes while growing up in the suburbs of Boston, MA. In college, he started to explore the theatre & film world while earning his Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics from Boston College.

Philip moved to Los Angeles and learned the business side of the industry during his time as a Business Affairs Analyst at HBO where he worked with on financial components of major series such as “The Sopranos”, “Sex and the City”, Six Feet Under”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Wire”. It was during his time in Los Angeles that Philip met the original founders of Catalyst (then called ITVFest) and developed a deeper understanding of the need to better connect independent story artists with the larger industry companies. In 2012, Philip was brought on board as Catalyst's Executive Director.

Philip has also served on the Board of Governors of the Boston/New England Chapter of the National Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences, and currently sits on the Duluth Public Arts Commission.

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Contact us:

(218) 208-0140

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1

Duluth, MN 55801

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Federal Trademarks: Catalyst Stories, Catalyst Content Festival