Meet the Team
A former editor and contributor to outlets including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and The Washington Post, Melissa also worked in a variety of content, marketing, and revenue-driving roles for IMDb, Cox Digital Media, Amazon, and HBO. She founded The Watercooler to create more relevant ways for people to discover films and original series, and to help foster more connection and community around entertainment.
An award-winning media executive and producer and the CEO of Sundance Institute from 2010-2021, Keri Putnam has supported, developed, and produced bold original content from new and established talent throughout her career. At Sundance, Putnam and her team significantly increased the reach and scale of the Sundance Film Festival and its community, grew revenue by 300% with an array of new partnerships and products, expanded into new storytelling disciplines and global programming, built pioneering digital products, launched the Catalyst program – which raised $50M in film financing for independent productions – and significantly invested in equity and inclusion as a leading advocate for historically underrepresented voices in media.
AD INNOVATION STRATEGIST
An Amazon Inventor Award winner for patented innovation, Steve Susi served as the first NYC creative director for Amazon Advertising, and went on to lead creative operations across Europe, Asia, and Canada, where his teams would deliver original brand experiences on behalf of hundreds of advertisers and millions of customers worldwide. Prior to Amazon, Steve led agency teams handling Mercedes-Benz, American Express, AT&T, and many more. His book Brand Currency: A Former Amazon Exec on Money, Information, Loyalty, and Time, a category bestseller, takes the reader inside the company’s operating system to reveal how Amazon has come to dominate business sector after sector.
Cindy White has spent nearly two decades covering the entertainment industry for outlets including IGN, Collider, SyFy Channel, GeekMom, and more. Her published work also includes a romance novel set in Hollywood. She lives in the wild suburbs of Los Angeles with her husband and twin daughters.
AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT LEAD
Antonia Santoro is a Digital Marketing and Audience Development professional with 10+ years of experience working in the media and publishing industries. Most notably, Antonia has worked at The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, setting their digital audience growth and retention strategies across distribution platforms. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and a proud cat-mom to Tina Purrner, the hardest-working paws in show business.
SOFTWARE & DATA ENGINEER
Lazar is a software engineer, data scientist and entrepreneur with deep interest in psychology, pedagogy and educational IT systems. He’s spent years developing information systems that introduce users to more diverse points of view and foster the exchange of ideas with less friction and prejudice. As part of the Netflix Prize competition, and inspired by his work in multidisciplinary team which included psychologists and psychiatrists, he independently developed an effective recommender algorithm.
A veteran Creative Executive Producer with The New York Times and Amazon Advertising, Josh has led innovative, story-based marketing productions, resource and project management for hundreds of leading brands, from AmEx and Unilever to CBS and Google. As a senior partner to Clients, Sales, Product, Data and Ad Tech teams, he’s helped transform clients’ business problems into actionable solutions, curating teams and orchestrating end-to-end execution and optimization of campaigns.
EVENTS & COMMUNITIES PRODUCERS
KANENE AYO HOLDER
A writer, events moderator, and two-time National Endowment for the Humanities award-winning educator and diversity trainer, Kanene Ayo Holder’s clients have included The New York Times School, the Apollo Theater, and Columbia University, among many others. She is also a comedian who has performed at Joe’s Pub.
DEVELOPER & DESIGNER