Launch of ‘The Digital Story: Giving Voice to the Unheard in Washington D.C’ – Report of the Community Voice Project

CMSI’s Community Voice Project (CVP) is a unique participatory community storytelling initiative at American University that connects students with communities in Washington Metropolitan Area to produce short documentary films and digital stories. Since 2008, the CVP has produced over 80 films and digital stories. These stories, created in collaboration with over 25 community organizations, have brought voice and visibility of underserved groups to the public while providing students and community members with transformative and practical experiences.

The report ‘The Digital Story: Giving Voice to the Unheard in Washington D.C’ traces the landscape and impact of digital storytelling, while also elaborating on the CVP, its method and impact and concluding with an ethnographic report through interviews with the CVP storytellers. Professor Nina Shapiro-Perl is the founder and creator of CVP. Professor Brigid Maher, Director of the Film and Media Arts division of AU’s School of Communication currently directs the CVP.

Meet Our New 2018 CVP Fellows

The CVP launched its third year of the CVP Fellows program recently with four outstanding new Fellows. These American University students and recent alums will be working with nonprofits in Washington, D.C. to help facilitate the creation of digital stories within the community:

Joanna Zwanger graduated with an MA in Producing for Film, Television, and Video from American University’s weekend master’s program in the spring of 2017. She currently serves as the Supervisor of Broadcast Network Operations for BBC America in Silver Spring, MD. Before joining BBC America, Joanna worked for PBS as the Assistant Director of Promo Distribution. Joanna moved to the DC area shortly after graduating from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Radio/Television. She also studied radio documentary at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, ME.

Asia Taylor currently works as Senior Video Editor/Producer at O’Keefe Communications. Experienced both behind the camera and in the edit suite, Asia brings her creative focus and vision to each production she works on. She has received positive industry recognition for her work, including several Telly Awards. Asia received her BA in Mass Communications with a concentration in Video Production from Frostburg State University, and a Master’s in Producing for Film, Television, and Video at American University.

Linda Golden is working towards a Master’s in Public Anthropology while working at the Career Center at American University. She is interested in health and environmental issues. Her undergraduate degree is in photography, and she hosted and produced a podcast about culture and events in Louisville, Kentucky. Linda also spent two years in Togo with the Peace Corps. Through the Community Voice Project, she is looking forward to honing her video skills and learning more about collaborative storytelling.

Mary Alice McMillan is an MFA candidate in American University’s Film and Media Arts program. A North Carolina native, she is passionate about sharing stories of rural America. Mary Alice hopes to pursue a career as an independent documentary filmmaker sharing stories that can mold and shape society and create positive change. In the past, she has created short films and promotional pieces for Carolina Cross Connection, the United Methodist Church, and Habitat for Humanity of D.C., among others.

The CVP fellows program provides selected students and recent alumni with Master Class sessions in Digital Storytelling, facilitated by American University’s Film & Media Arts division within the School of Communication. Over the course of 10 months, Fellows partner with local nonprofits and collaborate with individuals to help them tell their stories.

CVP fellows previously created work in conjunction with the Anacostia Community Museum.


CMSI’s ‘Rise-Up Media & Social Change’ Project featured at the 2018 International Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit