Meet the Upstander Project Team

Our project is created and sustained by:

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Dr. Mishy Lesser

Learning Director

Mishy Lesser is the Learning Director for the Upstander Project. She conceived and developed the Coexist Teacher’s Guide to help teachers and students use the film in impactful ways. She has worked with youth since the 1980s and came of age as a trainer and facilitator by partnering with community leaders and organizations in Chile and Ecuador. Mishy has extensive experience in curriculum development, workshop design, and group facilitation. She is a Circle Keeper, and her workshops are both content-rich and attentive to the social emotional learning needs of participants. She is also a writer and has been featured on WBUR (Boston) and PRI/BBC’s “The World.” Mishy earned a doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a certificate from the Couples and Family Center at Harvard Medical School. She spent twelve years in Latin American and ten years in the field of workforce development, with a focus on policy and program reform. She is an Associate of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding.

Adam Mazo

Producer & Director

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Adam Mazo is the Director of the Upstander Project and the Producer and Director of Coexist. His work has been featured at film festivals, international conferences, universities, and schools around the world. Beginning in 2006 he spent time in Rwanda researching and shooting video around the country investigating the country’s reconciliation efforts. He is also currently co-directing and producing, DAWNLAND a new documentary film project in Maine. For more than a decade he has worked as a television news journalist. He has traveled through more than 20 countries around the world. He was trained at the University of Florida where he earned a B.S. in television production. He came to Boston, which he now calls home, via Minnesota, Florida, and Paris.

Carrie Grote

Director of Development

Carrie Grote is the Development Director for Upstander Project. She is responsible for leading the efforts to secure funding for the Upstander Project and help with strategic planning for the growth of the organization. Carrie has spent her entire professional career working for non-profit organizations. She has been a professional fundraiser for 11 of those years, working with organizations such as Girl Scouts, Community HousingWorks in San Diego, and La Jolla Country Day School. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, serving on the small coral atoll of Abemama in the country of Kiribati in the central Pacific as a teacher trainer. Carrie graduated from Presbyterian College where she earned a B.S. in education. She is a Florida native, but has lived in South Carolina, Kiribati, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. She is currently based in Connecticut with her husband and daughter.




Upstander Project Circle of Advisors

Dr. Donna Hicks is an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She has been involved as a third party in numerous unofficial diplomatic conflict resolution efforts including projects in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Cuba, and Northern Ireland. Her most recent book, Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict, was published by Yale University Press in 2011.

Dr. Rebecca Lowenhaupt is an assistant professor for educational leadership and higher education at Boston College. Her research interests include K-12 school reform, organizational theory, education policy, immigrant education, instructional and distributed leadership, and leadership for equity.  Becca focuses on the fundamental role education policy and practice play in the immigrant experience and helps schools design meaningful, equitable educational opportunities for immigrant youth, and is especially interested in the changing policy climate for English Language Learners (ELLs). Becca advises Coexist on matters related to school reform and education policy.

Chico Colvard received his J.D. from Boston College Law School. He currently teaches “Race, Law & Media” related courses at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is a former Filmmaker-in- Residence at WGBH, Firelight Media Producers’ Lab Graduate and Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow. Chico’s feature-length documentary, Family Affair, premiered in competition at Sundance and has since won several awards and screened around the world. Family Affair is the first documentary acquired by Oprah Winfrey for her new cable channel, OWN. Chico’s current film project is a love story about the people who consume, manufacture and assume the identities of black memorabilia.

Robert Koenig is a multiple Emmy nominated producer and director. Robert served as the field producer and story consultant on Coexist.  Robert directed the documentary film Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army which won the prestigious Artivist Award for Child Advocacy. Robert served as an adjunct professor in The Department of Electronic Media & Film at Towson University and is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.

Dave Joseph, LICSW, Vice President, Program for Public Conversations Project.
 An experienced dialogue practitioner, trainer, facilitator, mediator, and consultant who enjoys focusing on constructive conversations and conflict management, Dave has facilitated dialogues around intra- and inter-religious differences, class, abortion, marriage equality, domestic violence/healthy marriage/responsible fatherhood, and many other issues in the United States and in Africa. He co-founded and headed the Community Mediation Center of Rhode Island, and has directed mental health and addictions treatment services at community health centers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Dick Olsen has several decades of experience as a strategic planner and fundraising consultant for major non-profits and public universities including the ACLU, the University of Southern California, the University of California Los Angeles, and Echo Parenting and Education. He lives in Southern California.