A program of

Jody Kielbasa

Festival Director and UVA Vice Provost for the Arts

Jody joined the Virginia Film Festival in May of 2009 after a nationwide search for a new director. He came to us from Sarasota, Fla., where he served for 10 years as the founding executive director of the Sarasota Film Festival. Under his leadership, that festival became one of the top regional film festivals in the United States with more than 45,000 attendances in 2008. Jody was appointed vice provost for the arts at UVA in January 2013 where he has guided the launch of the President’s Speaker Series for the Arts, the Berlin Wall Symposium, The Arts magazine, and a newly designed University Arts Website.

Jenny Mays

Managing Director

As Managing Director of the Virginia Film Festival, Jenny supervises the Festival’s full-time and seasonal staff; directs all branding, marketing, and promotional efforts; oversees the UVA student internship program; and manages the Festival’s financial and strategic planning. Since her hire in 2010, she has guided the Festival through a period of rapid growth where revenues and expenditure budgets have doubled and the number of staff have tripled. Under her leadership, the Festival has overhauled its organizational chart and internship program, invested in new community outreach and audience engagement efforts, and refreshed its graphic and brand identities.

Jenny has worked for the University of Virginia in arts management and administration for over 15 years.  Former positions include Interim Managing Director of the Heritage Theatre Festival, Assistant Business Manager of the UVA Department of Drama, and Operations Manager of the Virginia Film Festival. Jenny has a B.A. in Media Studies from the University of Virginia and is a former Film Festival intern.

Erica Barnes

Business Manager and Outreach Coordinator

Erica manages VAFF year-round operations and fiscal needs, and oversees the planning and implementation of VAFF’s outreach programs. Erica began working with the Festival in 2013 as the Digital Media Gallery Coordinator and most recently as Filmmakers and Sponsors Lounge Coordinator. She has substantial experience working with arts organizations, previously as Assistant Director at Second Street Gallery, Programming Director at KRUI, and served on the board of Student Broadcasters, Inc. She has a B.A. in Arts Management from the University of Iowa and moved to Charlottesville in 2012.

Rob Dunnenberger

Operations Manager

Rob manages the technical, venue, and special event operations, oversees the production team, and manages off-season programs. Born and raised in Charlottesville, Rob graduated from James Madison University in 2012 with a Bachelors of Music focusing on Music Business and Percussion Performance. He joined the VAFF team in June 2019 and previously served as a house manager.

Chandler Ferrebee

Assistant Programmer and Communications Manager

Chandler manages the Festival’s social media accounts, writes copy for the website and program, and assists the Festival’s publicist. In her role as Assistant Programmer, she works with the programming team on film selection and guest invitations. She is also the film programmer at Light House Studio at Vinegar Hill Theatre. She has attended the Festival since moving to Charlottesville in 2010 and credits it with fostering her passion for film.

Lizzy Ramey

Assistant Director of University Arts Development

Lizzy leads the VAFF’s fundraising efforts and serves at the main point of contact for all corporate sponsors, individual donors, foundation and grant supporters, and advisory board members.  She comes to UVA from Meridian International Center in Washington, DC, where she managed numerous aspects of development work for the corporate and individual giving councils including prospect research, strategy, solicitation, donor communications, events, and database management. She has significant experience working closely with high-level government officials and their staff including ambassadors, U.S. State Department leaders, and members of Congress. Lizzy earned a BA in Foreign Affairs from UVA in 2014 and held leadership positions with the Hoos In Treble singing group and Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity while she was a student.

John Kelly


John Kelly is a Charlottesville-based freelance publicist and writer who has worked with VAFF since 2005. He plays a key role in a variety of messaging and marketing efforts throughout the year in addition to pitching local, regional and national media, handling all press inquiries and managing media relations during the Festival. He is also connected to the Virginia film industry through his work as Unit Publicist on Virginia-based productions including Killing Kennedy (Nat Geo Channel) and Mercy Street (PBS).

Jenny Gardiner

Volunteer Coordinator

Jenny Gardiner is an award-winning #1 Kindle bestselling author who has published nine novels, a memoir, and a collection of essays. Her work has been found in Ladies Home Journal, The Washington Post, and on National Public Radio, and she is a regular columnist for Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress, as well as an occasional essayist on regional NPR affiliate WVTF-FM. She has worked as a publicist for a United States senator, and as a freelance photographer, photographing such notable public figures as Prince Charles, Elizabeth Taylor, and the President of Uganda.