Chairman of the Board of Trustees Jeff Greenhawt ’68 and President Lee Pelton have announced a series of new appointments to the Board of Trustees and the Board of Overseers, effective May 1, 2015.
Chairman of the Board of Overseers Daniel H. Black P ’07 and member of the Board of Overseers Dan Cohen have been appointed to the Board of Trustees. They join 23 other members who share fiduciary responsibility for the College and work in collaboration with the President, senior administrators, and faculty on strategic initiatives that will strengthen the Emerson experience for students now and into the future.
Don Spetner P ’11, who is currently vice chairman of the Board of Overseers, has agreed to succeed Dan Black as Chairman. Spetner, whose son Jamie graduated from Emerson in 2011 and was the undergraduate Commencement speaker, has served on the Board of Overseers since 2009. He is a senior corporate advisor for Weber Shandwick Worldwide, and he and his wife, Laurie, have generously supported Emerson and Emerson Los Angeles.
The Board of Trustees has also appointed two new members to the Board of Overseers: Bret Clemons P ’16, vice president of the consumer goods company Gemline, and Ruth Vitale, executive director of CreativeFuture. They join 18 other members of the Board Overseers who serve as advisors to President Pelton, provide insight into industry and today’s workplace, mentor students, help secure internships, and assist with special projects at the request of the administration.
“Through these membership changes, Emerson College has widened the range of professional knowledge, expertise, and talent for both the Board of Trustees and the Board of Overseers,” said Trustees Chairman Greenhawt. “We are enormously grateful to have such talented individuals willing to serve as volunteers on these boards in addition to our Alumni Board and the Parents Leadership Council,” he said.
Dan Black is shareholder and Chairman, West Coast Entertainment and Media Practice, at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig. He is widely recognized for his ability to navigate easily on the cutting edge of media as well as the traditional entertainment business. He has extensive experience in the television, motion picture, and digital media arenas, having practiced law both in the major studio and law firm settings.
Black is regularly cited as being among the top entertainment lawyers in the world. He has served on Emerson’s Board of Overseers for approximately 10 years and has been Chairman for the past four. Dan Black and his wife Jan, whose son Alex graduated from Emerson in 2007, have made numerous generous gifts to the College and to Emerson Los Angeles over the years. Jan Black has worked closely with Claudia Bright on numerous Emerson LA Center events, including last year’s opening gala.
Dan Cohen is executive vice president, for Pay Television and Digital for Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and Television Distribution, the content distribution arm for the Walt Disney Company. Under Cohen, his team distributes motion picture and television properties from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Disneynature, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Touchstone Pictures, DreamWorks Studios, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior across a wide array of platforms, including electronic home video license, video-on-demand, subscription video-on-demand, mobile, broadband, and other digital technologies.
Cohen has served on the Board of Overseers since 2013 and, along with his wife, Lisa Black, has mentored several Emerson students, shared paid internship opportunities for students enrolled in Emerson’s Los Angeles Program, and provided generous support to the College and to Emerson Los Angeles.
Ruth Vitale is executive director of CreativeFuture, a collaboration made up of more than 350 companies and organizations encompassing film, television, music and book publishing. CreativeFuture promotes the value of creativity in today’s digital age. The organization embraces audience access to content in ways that reward creativity and hard work. It is united in opposition to for-profit theft of creative works, which jeopardizes the rights of all creative individuals, puts jobs at risk, and undermines new business models and distribution platforms.
Vitale has been at the forefront of independent film production and distribution for more than three decades, including as Founder and Co-President of Paramount Classics and as President of Fine Line Features. During her tenure at these companies, she launched the careers of many successful filmmakers such as Paul Greengrass, Sofia Coppola, Scott Hicks, John Hillcoat, and Craig Brewer. She has also worked with established talent such as Sam Raimi, Roger Michell, Jonathan Demme, Paul W.S. Anderson, Patrice Leconte, and Barbet Schroeder. Her films have won three Oscars and received 16 nominations as well as 18 Golden Globe nominations and two wins. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Bret Clemons, is a business executive and entrepreneur who is a vice president at Gemline. He serves on the boards of several startup companies and is an advisor to the Emerson Accelerator Program. He and his wife, Cindy, are co-chairs of Emerson’s Parents Leadership Council, helping to organize support among parents for the College. They have two daughters. Alexis is a rising senior at Emerson studying marketing communication with a minor in political communication. Their other daughter, Lauren, is a rising sophomore at Boston University.