Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS, and many other films. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability. He uses his films to lead discussions about the challenges and benefits of inclusive education and disability rights at film festivals, schools, and conferences across the country and internationally. Including Samuel, about Habib’s son who has cerebral palsy, was broadcast nationally on public television stations in fall 2009 and was nominated for an Emmy in 2010. The film was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “Good Morning America,” and the Washington Post. It has been translated into 17 languages and is used as a teaching tool worldwide. Who Cares About Kelsey? was broadcast nationally on public television in fall 2013. It has been featured in Education Week and has been screened at more than 300 events in every state and internationally. Mr. Connolly Has ALS was nominated for an International Documentary Association “Best Short” Award in 2017 and was broadcast nationally in 2018.
Chris Cooper won the 2003 Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in Adaptation. He has been an actor on stage, screen, and television for three decades, with notable roles in Lone Star, American Beauty, Seabiscuit, The Bourne Identity, October Sky, August Osage County, Lonesome Dove, and dozens of other films. In 1987, Cooper and his wife, Marianne Leone, had their son Jesse, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy. They became advocates for inclusive education, and Jesse became a high school honor student. In 2005, Jesse died suddenly from a seizure at age 17. Cooper worked tirelessly donating his time working on the film.
Marianne Leone is an actress who appeared in The Sopranos, a screenwriter, an essayist published in The Boston Globe, and author of the 2010 book, Jesse: A Mother’s Story. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, actor Chris Cooper, and two rescue dogs. The Jesse Cooper Foundation funds inclusion and adapted sports for children with special needs, and supports disabled orphans in Romania.
Amy Brenneman divides her time evenly between acting, producing, and political activism. She has extensive theater credits and her film and television history includes award-winning roles on NYPD Blue, Judging Amy, Fear, and The Leftovers. She produced and directed the documentary The Way the World Should Be about the trailblazing work of the CHIME Institute and its mission of inclusive education. Her 16-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality (only diagnosed at age 15, with only 1,400 cases worldwide), so throughout her early school years she qualified through services through a label of intellectual disability.
James Rutenbeck is an independent producer and editor. His films have been screened internationally at museums and festivals. His feature-length film Scenes from a Parish won the three Insight Awards of Excellence from the National Association of Film and Digital Media Artists and was broadcast on the PBS series Independent Lens in 2009. Rutenbeck has been awarded grants from the Sundance Documentary Fund, Latino Public Broadcasting, and Southern Humanities Media Fund. He is Executive Producer of Class of ’27, a recent series of three short films about the lives of very young children in remote parts of rural America. Class of ’27 was awarded a DuPont Columbia Journalism Award in January 2018. James has an adult son, Anthony, with autism.
Matisyahu is a world-renowned reggae vocalist, beatboxer, and alternative rock musician. Known for blending Orthodox Jewish themes with reggae, rock, and hip hop beatboxing sounds, Matisyahu’s 2005 single “King Without a Crown” was a Top 40 hit in the United States. Based on his commitment to human rights, Matisyahu is donating the use of his songs to INTELLIGENT LIVES.
Paul Brill has composed scores for numerous award-winning films, TV series, commercials, and NPR program themes, as well as several acclaimed original and innovative songwriting. He has received three Emmy award nominations for his film scores and recently collaborated with rock legend U2 on the HBO film, Burma Soldier.
Jody Becker is an award-winning documentary film, radio, and print journalist. As a writer and story editor, she collaborates with directors aiming their cameras at subjects highlighting issues ranging from public policy to health (Autistic-Like, Voices, and Habib’s Mr. Connolly Has ALS) and the arts.
Melanie Perkins McLaughlin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with more than 20 years in film production. She has worked on films for HBO, PBS, ABC, A&E, The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. In 2007, Perkins McLaughlin also received a prenatal diagnosis: her third child had Trisomy 21 and a congenital heart defect. She’s in development on a feature length documentary Accepting Grace that shares the experience of her daughter’s life with Down syndrome.