GroundworkThe Team

Meet The Team

Milena Velis - Director

Milena Velis is Media Production Director at Media Mobilizing Project. Milena trains and supports MMP movement media makers, and coordinates the production of MMP news reports, documentary projects, and other media telling the untold stories of everyday people building a movement for our human rights. Milena has worked as a local news reporter for Al Día, a Philadelphia-based Spanish-language weekly newspaper. Previously, she worked with the Prometheus Radio Project to build community radio stations around the US. Milena has also taught multimedia journalism at Temple University and worked as a Spanish-English interpreter in courtroom, community, and healthcare settings. Originally from Chile, Milena calls Philadelphia home. Milena holds a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College.

Melissa Beatriz Skolnick - Story Producer, The Engine of my Life

Melissa Beatriz Skolnick is a writer and multimedia artist who uses film and photography to bring awareness to social justice issues that are often ignored. She is committed to fighting alongside the communities she works with, while playing a part in bringing their stories to the forefront. She has collaborated with Philadelphia organizations such as Media Mobilizing Project, Scribe Video Center, and Taller Puertorriqueño, using media as a tool for community building and storytelling. She holds a Master’s in Social Work from UPenn.

Chris Filippone - Editor

Chris Filippone is a Philadelphia-based filmmaker and graduate of Temple University. He has received MiND TV’s Philadelphia Stories grant, a Bread and Roses grant and won the Best Local Film Award for Stray, his first fiction short, at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. He is currently working on Point Breeze, a documentary about gentrification in Philadelphia.

T.C. Owens - Story Producer, The Valley with a Heart

T.C. Owens is a folklorist and videographer. Since 2008, he has worked collaboratively to document, preserve and present the vital community traditions of working communities. While at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, he worked on Eatala: A Life in Klezmer, about klezmer drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts. He holds an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His master’s thesis documents cultural impacts and collective responses of resistance to the natural gas industry in Northeast Pennsylvania. As a media organizer with the Media Mobilizing Project, he recently co-produced Building a Sandcastle: A Broken Promise to Atlantic City, a short documentary that tells the stories of the casino workers who remain after the wave of casino closures and layoffs in 2014.

Helyx Chase - Story Producer, Youth Uprising

Helyx Chase is a dedicated Philadelphian and Technical Manager/Production Assistant at the Media Mobilizing Project. In addition to being an independent video artist, Helyx works with the the Transgender Oral History Project, and as a youth video educator with Scribe Video Center. Helyx is passionate about storytelling and story preservation as a means to draw connections. Their video art is built by, about, and for televisions and computers.

Alexa Ross - Story Producer, Eastwick in the Middle

Alexa Ross is proud to call Philadelphia home, where she is a student and practitioner of healing and transformation. She organizes for racial, economic, and climate justice as a member of the Maypop Collective.

Zein Nakhoda - Story Producer, Eastwick in the Middle

Zein Nakhoda is a community media maker and climate justice organizer based in Philadelphia and a member of the Maypop Collective for Climate and Economic Justice.

Katya Botwinick - Story Producer, Youth Uprising

Katya Botwinick is a multimedia journalist and public interest advocate. After studying sociology at Wesleyan University, Katya moved to Philly and began an interdisciplinary career of media making and advocacy. While she currently provides administrative and development support for Friends of Farmworkers, a legal aid organization for low-wage workers, she continues to stay involved with community media production.