Board of Directors

melissaMelissa Anelli
President

Melissa Anelli is a New York Times bestselling author and the co-executive director of Mischief Management, which runs GeekyCon, LeakyCon, and BroadwayCon, and specializes in the creation of real-world spaces in which geeks can fully enjoy the things they love. She started on this path by joining the Harry Potter fandom in 2000, becoming the webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron and writing the bestselling Harry, A History, which features a foreword from J.K. Rowling. Melissa spent several years as a reporter in New York City and lives in Brooklyn, where she devours as many books, TV series, and stage shows as possible. She serves on the advisory board of NaNoWriMo and is a founding member of The HP Alliance’s board of directors. Her cat, Moochka, is the most fearsome beast alive.


Paul DeGeorge
Clerk

Paul co-founded the Harry Potter Alliance with Andrew Slack in 2005 and served as its Executive Director from 2013-2014. In 2002, Paul and his brother Joe started the band Harry and the Potters, now cited as the founders of Wizard Rock, a genre of music based on Harry Potter. The band was profiled in the 2008 documentary We Are Wizards and they have spent much of the last decade touring the world. Paul is also the creator of the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club, Nerds for Obama, the Secret Order of the Black Diamond and he writes and produces The Cephalopodcast, a fiction podcast from the perspective of a giant squid. He lives in Lawrence, KS where he and his wife run Wonder Fair, an art gallery focused on community engagement projects and adventure.


Samantha Ender

Samantha Ender is a Vice President and Program Officer at J.P. Morgan in New York City. Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, Sam was the Senior Development Officer at Partners In Health (PIH), a global health nonprofit partnering with the public sector in ten countries around the world to ensure that all people have access to quality health care. It was during her time at PIH that Sam first encountered the HPA, after the HPA community joined forces with other fandoms for Helping Haiti Heal, an effort that raised over $120,000 to send five planes of desperately needed cargo to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in January 2010. Sam holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Boston University and a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Amherst College; she lives in Brooklyn, NY with a small gang of very hardy houseplants.


Lillian Karabaic

Community organizing is Lillian’s favorite discipline of magic. By day, she works as a fundraiser and bicycling advocate at the Community Cycling Center and as a nonprofit database consultant. She’s known for creating a library cataloging marathon game, Raiders of the Lost Archives as the Zine Librarian at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. You can also find her flipping pancakes for bike commuters on Portland’s bridges, producing the Bike Portland podcast, dressing up as David Bowie on cross-country speaking tours or while leading the Bowie Vs Prince bike dance party. She’s previously worked for Bitch Media, Oregon Walks, Go By Bike, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. She’s still waiting for her Firebolt, but for now she rides her yellow Ahearne bicycle everywhere.


sangitaSangita Shresthova

A Czech/Nepali media-maker, dancer and scholar, Sangita is the Director of Henry Jenkins’ Media, Activism & Participatory Politics (MAPP) project based at USC. Her work focuses on the intersection between popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. She is a co-author of “By Any Media Necessary” a forthcoming book, which features the Harry Potter Alliance. Her earlier book on Bollywood dance and globalization (Is It All About Hips?) was published by SAGE Publications in 2011. Sangita is also founded Bollynatyam and continues to explore dance and media through this platform. Her work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), the Other Festival (Chennai) and the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC). Her recent research has focused on issues of storytelling and surveillance among American Muslim youth and the achievements and challenges faced by Invisible Children pre-and-post Kony2012.


Andrew Slack

Since cofounding the HPA in 2005, Andrew focuses on using the power of popular stories to unleash the civic imagination through a methodology he calls “cultural acupuncture.” Andrew is an Ashoka fellow, a former fellow at the Nathan Cummings Foundation as a social justice innovator, and been named one of the GOOD 100.

He’s written for the LA Times and CNN, spoken at TEDx Rome and TEDx Youth, done keynotes at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, the American Library Association’s midwinter festival, and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. He’s 2015 chair of the Ignite Talks at MacArthur’s Digital Media Learning Conference and co-chair of DML In Action. He’s been featured in stories by Fast Company, Forbes, NPR, and the New Yorker.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University, Andrew started his career with fellow HPA co-founder Seth Soulstein in comedy and producing videos that have been seen over 12 million times.


sethsSeth Soulstein
Treasurer

Seth Soulstein is a co-founder and founding member of the HPA and its board of directors. Having spent from 2002-2009 traveling the US and making viral videos with Andrew Slack in a sketch comedy troupe, the Late Night Players, he has since focused his attentions on playwriting and academia. He is currently working towards a PhD in the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he studies comedy, superheroes, and the past and present of participatory culture and fan activism. His Master’s thesis, written at the University of British Columbia and titled “Macbeth as Avatar: Fandom in British Romantic Theatre Audiences,” outlines eighteenth-century British fan culture, and poses a 67-day riot as a precursor to modern-day fan activism. He is deeply committed to human rights and environmental causes, and grows a lot of garlic, with which he makes a mean kimchi.