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A Message From IDA Executive Director Rick Perez and The Board

By Rick Pérez

Dear IDA Community,

I would like to address the recent resignations of four IDA staffers.

I am deeply disappointed that they chose to leave.  I cannot provide insight into why they made their decisions. To do so would be speculative or divulge confidential personnel information. I can say that I am disappointed that in resigning they relinquished an opportunity to respectfully engage in a constructive dialogue with me, the IDA’s Executive Director, to resolve their concerns. 

I can also say that I have a 20-year history in our community as a filmmaker, program designer, funder, advocate and mentor. My reputation and track record of collaborating with and advocating for documentary filmmakers in the US and abroad runs deep and is easily verifiable. I am firmly committed to IDA’s ongoing mission of supporting, funding and advocating for the documentary community. As a long-time IDA member and filmmaker myself, I am wholly invested in and dedicated to leading IDA into a new era where the roles of nonfiction films and documentary filmmakers are increasingly vital. 

Change in leadership, especially during a societal crisis like the Covid pandemic, and in the aftermath of a year of racial reckoning, has presented a unique set of hurdles. It should be no surprise that the resistance and the resultant tensions around change that play out in broader society, also manifest within nonprofit organizations.

My being IDA’s first Latinx leader and a member of the LGBTQ community doesn’t excuse me or the organization from scrutiny. I know I may have to prove myself to those who don’t know me yet.  I welcome that and look forward to showing my passion, commitment and dedication to building a vibrant equitable, and democratized documentary ecosystem.

I look forward to continuing to work with you all, the larger documentary community, and the IDA staff and Board to build on our shared values and goals for the organization. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions, concerns or ideas on how we can all work together to move the field forward. 

Warmest Regards, 

Rick Pérez

A Message From The IDA Board of Directors:

In the last few weeks, a number of documentary community members have expressed concern about recent changes at the IDA - particularly the resignations of four staff members.

We want to communicate clearly and unequivocally that we have been thorough and committed to being fair and equitable, and we are united in ensuring the IDA continues to be an essential resource for the documentary community.

We can acknowledge that the IDA received employee complaints and want to assureour colleagues that the Board of Directors handled them with the serious attention they deserved, including engaging outside legal counsel and an independent investigator.

With the assistance of these professionals, the Board undertook a thorough investigation into the complaints to ensure a process that would be fair to everyone. To protect the individuals’ privacy, we can’t address the specifics of the complaints in this letter nor in a public forum; however we can share that this investigator concluded that the claims were unsubstantiated. To put an end to public speculation, but without divulging the specific nature of the complaints, this result means that there were absolutely no findings to substantiate any purported discrimination or other claims.

All four staffers announced their resignations before the conclusions of the investigation were communicated. We are saddened that they decided to leave before an open and collaborative conversation could be had among staff, our new executive director Rick Pérez, and the Board. They have contributed significantly to IDA and the field, and we wish them well.

The IDA Board is composed of filmmakers, executives, lawyers, curators, and non- profit leaders who have devoted their careers to documentary film. We are 100% committed to the mission of IDA, which is to support the vital work of documentary storytellers and champion a thriving and inclusive documentary culture. How we go about achieving this mission is at the core of the conversations happening in our field. In the midst of the pandemic, social and racial reckonings, and a holistic re-evaluation of how and by whom stories are told in the documentary field, there is even more of a need for taking an inventory of our practices. We embrace these conversations wholeheartedly, especially when they are undertaken respectfully, constructively, and with care. We will continue to provide forums for discourse like Getting Real, Documentary Magazine, and our many other community and educational programs.

It is also important to note that change, at any organization, can be difficult and it’s not uncommon for shifts to occur when new leadership steps in, for any number of reasons. Rick Pérez has the potential to be a stellar executive director of IDA. He brings with him programmatic and field leadership experience from a range of impressive positions at Sundance Institute and WGBH, and through the decades-long endurance of being an independent documentary filmmaker – the core constituency of the IDA. Rick is also the first person of color who is also openly LGBTQ to lead the organization. We hired him to carry out the IDA mission by engaging hard questions and hearing the full range of concerns and contradictions facing our field.

As the IDA goes through this transition, we have enhanced HR support and takenother steps to help the staff, leadership, and the organization move forward. We ask
for the community’s support and collaboration as we enter into the IDA’s 40th
anniversary year.

IDA Board of Directors:

Hallee Adelman, Fonda Berosini, Bonni Cohen, James Costa, Jannat Gargi, Grace Lee, Lauren Lexton, Caroline Libresco, Vinnie Malhotra, Chris Perez, Al Perry, Aaron Saidman, Amir Shahkhalili, Marcia Smith