Katahdin Foundation

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Mission and History

Four Portraits of Native Action

Katahdin Foundation, Inc., (dba Katahdin Productions) is a nonprofit documentary production company based in Berkeley, California, with production offices in Los Angeles.

Mission

Katahdin's mission is to tell compelling stories often ignored by mainstream media - stories that inform, inspire and engage.

Dedicated to creating high quality documentary films and educational material, Katahdin projects tackle issues of social, political and historical interest that open minds, provoke dialogue, and encourage positive social change.

Katahdin also provides video production services to museums, philanthropies, nonprofits and other organizations.

History

Founded by Lisa Thomas, cofounder and former CEO of Clif Bar, Inc., Katahdin Productions grew out of a simple purpose: to tell the story of Barry Dana, chief of the Penobscot Indian Nation in Maine. In 2002, Thomas hiked with Dana up Mt. Katahdin in Maine and was moved to act when he showed her the source of the Penobscot River emanating from the mountain.

At its source, the river is a pristine, breathtaking sight to behold; however, as it makes its way to the ocean, the river becomes increasingly toxic – so much so that Dana has spent years battling powerful paper companies and the state government to improve pollution controls on the river.

Convinced that Dana’s story needed to be told on film, Thomas joined forces with filmmaker Roberta Grossman, co-writer and series producer of the 1995 CBS mini-series 500 Nations. Expanding the focus of their film to encompass the larger issues of environmental racism and the plundering of Indian lands, they created Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action. The story of dynamic Native American activists fighting environmental devastation at the hands of multi-national corporations and the U.S. government, Homeland has screened and won awards at more than forty festivals worldwide. It aired on public television stations in the U.S. in November 2005.

Thomas’ experiences on Homeland reinforced her commitment to tell stories that otherwise might not be told. In 2003, she formed a not-for-profit, 501 (c) (3) corporation dedicated to creating high-quality documentary films, ancillary educational materials and media projects that open minds, provoke dialogue and encourage positive social change – outstanding works that touch the soul as they sound a call to action.

In 2004, Katahdin Productions hired executive director Deann Borshay Liem, the former executive director of the National Asian American Telecommunications Association and an award-winning filmmaker with over twenty years experience working in development, production and distribution of educational and public television programming. Liem oversees fundraising, outreach, fiscal sponsorships and other strategic initiatives at the foundation’s offices in Berkeley, while Katahdin’s executive producer, Roberta Grossman, oversees development and operations at the foundation’s production offices in Los Angeles.