April 28th Convening: A New Vision for Youth Justice

On April 28th, The Youth First Initiative convened in Washington, DC for A New Vision for Youth Justice, Imagining a World Without Youth Incarceration.  The event drew together over 75 leading voices in the fight to close youth prisons for three days of organizing and trainings.  

Andy Stepanian of Balestra Media produced a spread of online and printed promotional materials for the event as well as a multi-cam Facebook Live broadcast of the event generating over 8,000 unique impressions.  Balestra also partnered with Burning Hearts Media to provide Youth First with a pro-res video package after the event.

Andy worked closely with Youth First to not only develop and produce the promotional materials and event program but also to design and produce Breaking Down the Walls, a powerful 67-page blueprint of successful state campaigns to close America’s youth prisons. Activists in attendance were provided copies of the report back to organizers in their home states, you can download a .pdf of the report HERE.

Activists left the event inspired and eager to bring the shared lessons of successful campaigns back to their own states.  

Balestra Media is humbled to continue to support Youth First's important work. With 4 youth prison facilities being closed this year and one in early 2018, Youth First has created one of the most successful coalitions fighting for youth justice to date. 

Christina DiPasquale
George Washington University Hosts Balestra's Christina DiPasquale at their Women in Business Summit

On, April 1, GWU hosted a summit that included women at all levels of business to share their experiences and advice with students. Balestra's Christina DiPasquale was invited to talk about why she chose to focus her communications shop on human rights issues and what challenges she has overcome as CEO.

The event was moderated by Tori Hannah, director of sports marketing at Under Armour. Others panelists included: Madison Mcghee, founder of The Lemon Stand; Sara Fisher, Media Reporter at Axios; and Caryn Benisch, Communications Strategist with Rational 360.

Christina DiPasquale
Short Film from Youth First Revealing a New Vision for Youth Justice--a World Without Youth Prisons

Balestra Media is humbled to have been invited to work on this short film about the efforts of the Youth First Initiative and to again team up with video partner Burning Hearts Media. Balestra’s Andy Stepanian and Burning Hearts Media’s Jeffrey Wirth co-directed this piece, produced by Balestra’s Christina DiPasquale, to provide a voice to the 50,000 youth incarcerated in America’s juvenile justice system.

The b-roll and 12 interviewees were filmed at the Youth First State Strategy Roundtable 2016 in Richmond. The team scouted locations around the conference, set up a room where lawyers, organizers and youth would feel comfortable talking about their work, and captured their positive vision of youth justice that doesn't rely on incarceration.

This video needed to show the lasting, negative impact of youth prisons where young people are subjected to restraints, brutal violence, and solitary confinement. The Youth First Initiative is taking aim at these facilities with a simple demand, #NoKidsInPrison and inviting more to join them:

NowThis shared a short version of the video on social media and got more than 350,000 views in the first week it had posted.

This Friday, the Larned Juvenile Correctional Center in Kansas will close after 45 years of operation. The closure of this medium/high-security facility, designed to imprison 170 youth, marks a significant victory for Kansans United for Youth Justice, part of the Youth First Initiative.

The tireless work of Youth First, a growing national constellation of organizations from Kansas, Virginia, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and New Jersey that launched in 2015 with a goal of closing youth prisons, has already lead to commitments to close five facilities in four states. Many more youth prisons are under scrutiny from state and federal authorities.

Today’s political climate underscores the importance of Youth First’s work. While youth incarceration has been on the decline for over a decade, due in part to the efforts of Youth First and myriad other juvenile justice advocates, the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have signaled that the youth prison complex may see renewed vigor.

Please follow Youth First’s work on Twitter, Facebook, or their website.

Christina DiPasquale
NHMC’s 20th Latino Impact Awards with Jane the Virgin’s Jaime Camil and How to Get Away With Murder’s Karla Souza

We’re so proud to have joined the National Hispanic Media Coalition for their annual gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel honoring individuals who have furthered multi-dimensional portrayals of Latinos in film and television. Balestra Media's Christina DiPasquale and Courtney Holsworth worked with Variety and Bizbash to feature the gala in their Oscar week photo galleries, and with EFE on red carpet interviews. Balestra creative director Andy Stepanian designed the organization's new logo etched on the awards for the first time this year.

normanlear nhmc.jpg

Proud to stand beside members of NHMC’s talented staff after another successful Impact Awards Gala!

Christina DiPasquale
Balestra Media Founder Tapped to Develop Media Strategy and Skills Class at University of New Hampshire

This month, Christina DiPasquale, Balestra Media founder and CEO, will begin teaching a course that she has developed over the last several months for students at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

In the course, Christina will introduce contemporary media strategies and how they can be used to influence public policy. A three-part approach will focus on 1) recognizing the dynamics of a news cycle and how to identify opportunities in an oversaturated media landscape; 2) developing a context- and medium-sensitive communications strategy that meets established goals; 3) producing writing for a variety of mediums, and preparing for TV and radio interviews.

Christina DiPasquale
The NHMC Team Gathers in NYC to Celebrate Local Latinos for Significant Contributions to the Community

Last night, the National Hispanic Media Coalition honored local Latinos for their leadership and contributions to the community at its 2nd annual New York Impact Awards Reception at Google headquarters in New York City. Honorees included Fox News Latino; Fox 5 reporter Jessica Formoso; Telemundo 47 anchor Jorge Ramos; and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

NHMC staff from the Pasadena and DC offices joined together with board members, Balestra Media's Christina DiPasquale and our Google hosts for the evening.

Christina DiPasquale
Balestra Media Directs Crime Survivor Video, Designs Campaign Identity for the new Alliance For Safety and Justice Launched Today

Communities of color comprise the overwhelming majority of communities impacted by crime, and yet historically have remained underserved by systems designed to prevent crime.  Balestra Media partnered with the Alliance for Safety (ASJ) and Justice to develop a visual identity campaign that not only communicated the goals of the new organization, but also told the deeply personal stories of crime survivors who advocate for healing communities and rejecting overincarceration.

Campaign Identity

Given that ASJ grew, in part, from the the success of local groups like Californians for Safety & Justice (CSJ), our team gave thoughtful consideration to the typographic sensibilities of CSJ and previous color palettes. Balestra developed a brand identity and logo typeset in Proxima Nova, using a saturated carceral orange and tranquil blue to symbolize moving forward from mass incarceration to a future embracing restorative justice.

Cinematic & Digital Storytelling

Balestra worked closely with ASJ to tell the stories of those directly impacted by crime, and those who are advocate for shifting investments from mass incarceration to treatment and trauma recovery.  After interviewing key voices, we produced a 5 minute short film, and five 30-second clips for sharing on Instagram and Facebook.

Website & Data Visualization

Balestra collaborated with ASJ, The Raben Group and Talbot Digital to create an online platform for ASJ to launch to include the crime survivors video, new photos from the recent Survivors Speak conference and information about state campaigns and resources.  Complete with parallax elements, an interactive Crime Survivors Report, and a dynamic data visualization map that highlights rates of incarceration in states across the country, the new website provides an information clearinghouse for anyone interested in criminal justice reform, and the important and often under-told stories of crime survivors.

Audience Building

 Balestra developed a series of digital audience products to tell ASJ’s story on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, accompanied by sample language to share the new collateral across all platforms and increase engagement focused on partner states.

Christina DiPasquale
In Sunday Print, the Los Angeles Times Profiles Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition

Balestra Media worked with the Los Angeles Times on including influential Latinos, including Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, in their online feature profiling 100 diverse influencers who have made a significant impact on Hollywood. Together, they represent the outlet’s top candidates for nomination to various branches of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The piece ran in print on Sunday, June 5.

NHMC’s Alex Nogales was one of 20 influencers increasing diversity in the industry with a breakout Q&A here: http://lat.ms/1t3JKBa.

After publication, the Los Angeles Times acknowledged NHMC in a follow-up piece for their recommendations of dozens of NHMC’s allies for inclusion. Of that list, we celebrate the newspaper’s selection of these amazing Latinos:

Gina Rodriguez (nominated for Actors branch)
Oscar Issac (nominated for Actors branch)
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (nominated for Directors branch)
Aurora Guerrero (nominated for Directors branch)
Jorge Gutierrez with a Q&A here
http://lat.ms/25CBSYq (nominated for Short Films and Animation)
Axel Caballero (nominated for Associates branch)
Ivette Rodriguez (nominated for Public Relations branch)
Eric Rovner (nominated for Associates branch)
Paul Presburger (nominated for Executives branch)

UPDATE: Of NHMC’s recommendations chosen by the Los Angeles Times, the Academy invited three to join.

Congratulations to:

Jorge Gutierrez, animator/director, “The Book of Life,” and NHMC Impact Award recipient
Patricia Riggen, director, “The 33”
Oscar Isaac, actor, “Star Wars The Force Awakens” and “Ex Machina”

Christina DiPasquale
Robin Wright and #StandWithCongo Media Day

We had the incredible pleasure of working with the whole #StandWithCongo team - JD Stier, campaign director; Mike Ramsdell, film director; activist and artist Omekongo Dibinga and the amazing activist and actress Robin Wright.

This was also a very special project to me because I had the opportunity to work alongside my former colleague JD Stier, after our time together at Center for American Progress, and collaborate closely with my former FitzGibbon Media colleague Andy Stepanian on the media relations. So proud to see a Stier Forward campaign in action, with support by The Rockefeller Foundation, and drawing attention to the need for transparency in mining contracts in Congo with the new documentary.

Christina DiPasquale
More, Better Media for Digital Rights Campaigns

Balestra Media' s RightsCon Silicon Valley panel went one hour over time in a livelydiscussion of engaging media around digital rights. Brian Knappenberger, director of THE INTERNET'S OWN BOY: THE STORY OF AARON SWARTZ, shared his insights on storytelling from years of visualizing tech issues--most recently through his direction of the Maggie Gyllenhaal-narrated docu-series Truth and Power. Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron contributed his perspective on years of campaigning and advocacy work. The audience shared their successes and lessons learned, analyzed recent news coverage and workshopped their future ideas with all the panelists.

National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Impact Awards Gala

Very excited to be a part of the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Impact Awards this year to honor outstanding contributions to the positive portrayals of Latinos in media and NHMC’s 30th anniversary. At this year’s gala in Beverly Hills, we proudly wore our #HollywoodBrownout ribbons!

Christina DiPasquale