Who We Are

Who We Are


Joe Newman, Executive Director. Joe is a writer, photographer and media consultant who has led photography workshops in Cuba, published three collaborative photo books financed through Kickstarter campaigns, taken on photography assignments for various NGO clients, and founded the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival. Previously, he served as the director of communications at the Project On Government Oversight.  He started his career in Florida, where he worked 17 years as a reporter and editor at the Orlando Sentinel, St. Petersburg Times and Palm Beach Post.

Mona E. Avalos, Program Manager. Mona is an emerging photographer who captures a creative perspective of street life, nature and architecture. Her work was recently featured at IGDC’s first community exhibition. As a research and policy analyst, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mona has worked in Central and Latin America and Africa to reduce mercury pollution, particularly by artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations.

Kirth Bobb, Festival Coordinator. Though “formally” educated in the computer sciences and cyber security disciplines, his journey into photography has been one filled with discoveries and is driven by an endless curiosity about the human experience, light, shapes, color, the creative process, and everything in-between. Kirth’s wedding, family documentary, fine art and street photography has been internationally recognized.

Tim Hill, Designer. Tim is an award-winning web developer and graphic artist. He has worked in the newspaper industry for more than 25 years, fighting to his last breath in the alternative news trenches in Gainesville, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland. With his agency Draft Horse Studio in Kansas City, Missouri, he builds websites and designs publications for a variety of local and national organizations.

Mike Lee, Writer. Mike is a photographer, editor, labor journalist and writer based in New York. His photography has been featured in several group shows, most recently at Art Thou Gallery in Berkeley and Darkroom Gallery in Vermont. A portfolio and interview is published in Neicebook 2, and upcoming at Palooka. His short fiction is published in several literary journals, including The Avenue, The Ampersand Review, Reservoir, Ghost Parachute and The Airgonaut.

Board of Directors

Shamila N. Chaudhary, President. Shamila is Senior Advisor to the Dean at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Her analysis is regularly cited and published in leading media outlets; she has appeared on CNN, BBC News America, NPR, and Fox News, and other outlets. Durng the Obama administration, she served on the White House National Security Council as Director for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Chantale Wong, Treasurer. Chantale is a management and policy expert with more than 20 years of senior level experience in the Federal government. In her last Federal position before her retirement, Chantale served as the Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer for the Millennium Challenge Corporation. She was a presidential appointee in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations.

Katie Jett Walls, Secretary. Katie is a documentary photographer, creating visual stories for families in the Washington D.C. area, as well as shooting documentary projects that give voice to those in marginalized communities and witness to the human experience. Before turning her attention full-time to photography, Katie worked in nonprofit development in the D.C. area, helping to secure major donor funding for City Lights Public Charter School, Capital City Public Charter School, and the American Institute for Cancer Research.