As its 16th year promises a fresh and diverse lineup of top-notch films, the Rome International Film Festival announces major growth within its board of directors, welcoming 11 new members to a board of 18 dedicated professionals. In all, a team of 37 business and film industry leaders work to make RIFF possible.

“This is a very exciting and busy time for RIFF,” said Executive Director Seth Ingram. “We’re kicking into high gear, and each of our new board members – as well as our seasoned ones – bring the unique skills and perspectives needed to make this year’s festival a major success.”

“Right now, our board and staff members are working very hard to make this year’s festival one of the greatest yet,” said Jesse Bishop, board president. “Our patrons will want to take advantage of some great new programs we’re adding.’”

2019 RIFF Board Additions

Jeb Arp – Arp is the Assistant Principal at Garden Lakes Elementary and is a former teacher at Cave Spring Elementary School. Arp is also a real estate agent with Toles, Temple & Wright, an active member of Rome First United Methodist Church, and serves on the board of directors of the Rome Area Heritage Foundation. Arp is a graduate of Leadership Rome.

Tom Brady – Brady enjoys a celebrated career as a TV and film writer, director and producer. His works include having written and directed “Hot Chick” and “The Animal” and he most recently produced “Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End,” the 2018 winner of Best Feature Documentary at Slamdance, Austin Film Fest and RIFF. Brady has attended RIFF as a guest artist, panelist and filmmaker.

Doug Collins – Collins joins the board as RIFF’s Development Director. He founded two Arizona broadcast studios, and has provided major network feed to FOX, CNBC, BBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, NBC with segments featuring national talent such as Governor Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, David Axelrod and General Jack Keane. He also produces The DM Zone.

Jim Gibbons – Gibbons is the First Facility Stage Manager for the Rome City Auditorium and is an experienced stage craftsman. He has worked closely with RIFF during programming at the auditorium. Gibbons is also the First Mate of the Roman Holiday, Rome’s 40-passenger excursion boat, and takes passengers on tours of the Oostanaula and Coosa Rivers.

Gary Jones – Jones is a teacher with Rome City Schools, and is a highly rewarded educator of the gifted including Economic Teacher of the Year for the State of Georgia. Jones is the 2016 Judge’s Choice Champion of the Rome Celebrity Dance Challenge, as well as a community volunteer, soccer coach, judge of pageants, actor and family man.

Lauren Jones Hillman – Hillman joins the board as Marketing Director and is the Marketing Content Manager at Harbin Clinic. She is a writer, actress, filmmaker and dancer, and was an instructor for the 2018 Rome Celebrity Dance Challenge. She serves on the board of the joint organization Peacefully Engaging the Rome Community and Turn Your Back on Hate.

Jim Kelly –  Jim has been a professional Audio Engineer since 1988 and has been working with Ready or Not Entertainment Services since 2007. He’s served as President of the Rome High School Band Booster’s Association, Board Member of the Coosa Valley Fair Association, and currently serves as Coosa District’s Vice Chair of the Northwest Georgia Council, BSA.

Thomas Kislat – Since 2016, Thomas has been the Sales Director for Convention Travel and Special Events at the Forum River Center and Rome’s Greater Convention & Visitors Bureau. In addition to RIFF, he serves on several other boards including Rome Rotary, Floyd Against Drugs and Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful. He is a current participant in Leadership Rome.

Chuck Morris – Chuck Morris is an attorney at Parker & Lundy Law Firm in Cedartown. He is also an actor and producer for both theater and film, and has served as President of the Board of Directors of Rome Little Theatre, Chairman of the Cedartown Civic Arts Commission Board of Directors and Chairman of the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation.

Melissa Rutledge – Rutledge is a Senior Graphic Designer for a marketing firm in metro Atlanta. She has enjoyed being a RIFF volunteer for the past several years and is the founder of Rome Knitterati and Free Art Friday – Rome GA. Rutledge also serves on the boards of Makervillage and Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful, and volunteers with several area nonprofits.

Rick Stevenson – Rick is a native Roman and a family man, having been married to Sundai Stevenson for 29 years. Rick has worked event and concert management and enjoys volunteering and serving his community. He is a graduate of East Rome High School and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He and his wife have two children, a son-in-law and a grandchild.

Returning board members include President Jesse Bishop, Vice President Monica Sheppard, Secretary Alan Guyatt and Treasurer Anna Garner, as well as Katherine DudleyLaura Lundy Wheale and Deborah Porterfield.

RIFF also announces Greg Bishop as Technical Director, Dianemarie Collins as the film festival’s publicist, Leah Lynn as Associate Director and Melissa Simpson as Director of Operations. Returning RIFF staff include April Ingram as Programming Coordinator and Executive Director Seth Ingram.

Comprising the Advisory Board are Scott BentleyRussell EvansIan GriffinShay Bentley GriffinAJ JacksonJohn KenyonDianne LewisDr. Dana NicholsJim SantoroRyan SimmonsDavid Smith and Lisa Smith.

The 16th annual Rome International Film Festival will be held Wednesday, Nov. 6, through Sunday, Nov. 10, at the historic Desoto Theatre and Rome City Auditorium.

For more information about the festival, visit