To our grantees, filmmakers and the social issue documentary field, Thank you.  Working with creative, passionate and gifted storytellers every day for the last nine years at The Fledgling Fund has been an unbelievable honor.  Thank you for inviting me into your work, your lives and your impact on the world.  I could never quantify what I have learned, how I have grown and how you all have lifted me up with your commitment to social justice, equality, human rights and empathy.  I am so grateful. People often ask me which documentary film I think has had the most social impact.  My answer is always: “That’s impossible”.  It’s impossible because the work you all do as storytellers, and the field that supports them, is beyond measure.  I read, hear and see every day the ways that your persistent truth sharing has not only changed hearts and minds, but lives.  And so many of you are never truly recognized for the bravery, selflessness and compassion in which you tell these stories.  Thank you for what you do. I’m also so grateful for The Fledgling Fund itself.  My colleagues Diana Barrett and Sheila Leddy have been the most supportive and wise colleagues I could have asked for.  As I step away from Fledgling this month, I leave full of all of that gratitude, but also with a real sense of hope because I know that storytelling will always lead movements and that Fledgling will continue to support that vital work in so many forms. I’m stepping away to launch my next professional pursuit.  But, before I do that, I’m making a story of my own – a new baby.  Any day now, my husband and I will welcome a new mini activist into our family and I can’t wait to pass along so much of what I have learned from you all to this next generation in our family.   I hope to stay in touch as I develop the next chapter in my family, life and work – I’m confident our paths will cross again soon.  Thank you again. Warmly, Emily Verellen Strom

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