About Us

About Us

Berkeley Advanced Media Institute is the world’s premier center for digital media workshops and custom training programs. Career professionals from around the world choose Berkeley Advanced Media Institute’s programs to gain valuable insight and skills in digital media content production, multimedia storytelling, social media, data visualization, and digital publishing.  Our instructors are UC Berkeley award-winning faculty and leading industry practitioners who are experts in creating and developing compelling innovative digital stories across multiple digital platforms. Visit Berkeley AMI to join one of our upcoming workshops, to inquire about custom training programs, or to access free tutorials and resources online.

Digital Media Team

Vicki Hammarstedt is the digital media director for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. An entrepreneur with a passion for all things digital, Vicki has had an eclectic career as a technology teacher, the developer of a charter school, co-founder of an e-commerce company, and as the business director in the telecom industry. She currently designs and produces multimedia training programs bringing the latest technologies and innovations in storytelling to career professionals throughout the world. When not recruiting savvy, smart industry leaders and academics as partners to support the new media programming, she can be found bicycle touring or bee keeping.

Flynn May is media program specialist with Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. With a background in administration, communications and event production, Flynn has worked with Berkeley Advanced Media Institute since 2014, coordinating workshops and special projects. Offline, Flynn is a writer, an actor and a board member of an Oakland maker space.

Diane Villadsen is the marketing specialist for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. A recent graduate in linguistics, she transitioned from handling Berkeley AMI’s social media to her current role in December 2015. Her background in photo & video comes in handy when creating original content for Berkeley AMI’s marketing materials and documenting workshops. When she’s not at work, she devotes much of her free time to her photography business, as well as playing music and spending time outdoors.

Digital Media Program Instructors

Our instructors are luminaries from academia and industry. They are award-winning storytellers in all things digital with practical experiences in multimedia, visual journalism, social media, data visualization and digital publishing.

Social Media

Máire P. Walsh is a social media instructor for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute, in addition to her position as Digital Strategy Director at Subdirect. She oversees digital media marketing including content strategy, social media, and call-to-action marketing for digital media priorities. She also works with clients on custom digital products and works closely with key partners in social media and technology industries to ensure client success. Máire went from managing circulation for a lifestyle magazine to leading a team that helped build retail sales and partnerships for over 70 national magazines at the Independent Press Association. Máire has been featured in Folio, Audience Marketing, Publishing Executive, The Irish Times, and Yahoo Finance and is a regular speaker at media industry conferences on audience development and engagement strategies.

Mary Polizzotti is Berkeley Advanced Media Institute’s social media instructor and the social media director for men’s fashion e-commerce startups, Generation Tux and zTailors, and directly manages the personal social media for the company’s founder, George Zimmer. Previously, Mary was the digital content strategist at Salt Branding agency, where she managed two regional lifestyle magazines, 7×7 and California Home + Design. In her tenure as digital strategist she she grew the combined digital audience by over 500%. Her other clients included Anheuser-Busch, Virgin America, Google, BMW, PG&E, Wells Fargo, and Bloomingdales. She also produced content for NabeWise.com, which was later acquired by Airbnb, led the content development for travel start up NileGuide.com, and spearheaded the site redesign for its sister property 10Best.com, which was later acquired by USAToday.

Data Visualization

Tasneem Raja is a data visualization instructor for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute and the digital editor of NPR’s identity and culture unit. In her previous role, she was an editor at Mother Jones, where she led a scrappy interactive storytelling team that served up smart, fearless journalism using whatever means necessary. She was the news apps editor at The Bay Citizen, where she built useful things for the Bay Area like a Bike Accident Tracker and a government salary database. One million years ago, she was a longform feature writer at The Chicago Reader. Her superpowers are project management, interaction design, and helping people punch way above their weight. She is a frequent speaker at leading industry events inspiring journalists in the art of storytelling and data visualizations.

Peter Aldhous is a science journalist with BuzzFeed News and data visualization instructor for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. He also teaches data visualization at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, investigative reporting in the Science Communication Program at the UC Santa Cruz, and has developed online training materials in data visualization for the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Peter got his start in journalism in 1989 as a reporter for Nature in London, fresh from a PhD in animal behavior. Later he worked as European correspondent for Science, news editor for New Scientist and chief news and features editor with Nature, before moving to California in 2005 to become New Scientist‘s San Francisco bureau chief. Peter works with free tools to ‘interview’ and visualize data – from scans of his own DNA to records of human conflict. His projects include web apps that have explored the local and global history of climate change, and the number of Earth-like planets in our galaxy. Peter’s articles have won awards from bodies including the Association of British Science Writers, the Society of Environmental Journalists, and the Wistar Institute.

Visual Storytelling: Video & Photography

Shaleece Haas is a filmmaker, multimedia journalist and video storytelling instructor for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. She is the director/producer of the forthcoming documentary Real Boy, a coming-of-age story about a transgender teenager with musical aspirations. Most recently, she co-produced The Genius of Marian, a film about the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s, the power of art and the meaning of family (POV, 2014). She has also served on the production teams of several short and feature-length documentaries for public television Shaleece came to filmmaking through her work as a photojournalist. Her images have appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and in magazines including Marie Claire, Utne Reader, and Ms. Magazine. While living in New York City, she also had the privilege of listening to hundreds of life stories through her work for the national oral history project, StoryCorps.

Richard Taylor is the BBC North American technology correspondent based in San Francisco Bay Area and creator of the BBC’s global technology brand, ‘Click’, broadcast in the UK and on TV in English and other language services.  He is also a lead Berkeley Advanced Media Institute innovation and video instructor.

Chris Schodt is a freelance multimedia journalist and recent graduate of the UC Berkeley graduate school of journalism. Previously working in environmental science, Chris now focuses on science, technology, and culture. His work includes video, animation, and data visualization, and has had work published by the Verge, the BBC, and National Geographic. Chris has been working with the Berkeley AMI for the last year, producing online training and mentoring journalists one-on-one in new media skills.

Tupac Saavedra is a director of photography, journalist and documentary filmmaker that splits his time between his native home, Bolivia and the United States. A 2007 alum of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, he is currently a senior producer at AJ+, where he creates viral content for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. His production company, Prana Eyes Media, has produced four documentaries for public broadcast, one of which, “On the Road with Evo,” won Best Documentary Award Emerging Filmmaker from the Pacific Pioneer Fund.

New Media

Jeremy Rue is lecturer of digital storytelling at the Graduate School of Journalism UC Berkeley and a multimedia instructor for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. He has taught workshops to hundreds of professional journalists on new media storytelling techniques. He has spoken at conferences for the Associated Press Managing Editors, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists, American Association of Sunday Feature Editors and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. He has led several newsroom trainings on the transition to digital journalism, including National Public Radio, American Public Media and the University of California Office of the President. He was a technical editor for several textbooks on Adobe Flash, and Adobe Dreamweaver. Rue worked as a multimedia journalist for the Oakland Tribune; as a multimedia producer and photographer for a Carnegie-Knight funded reporting fellowship; as a photojournalist for The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee and the Duluth News-Tribune in Minnesota; and as a reporter for the Selma Enterprise. Rue is the recipient of the 2007 Dorothea Lange Fellowship for his photo documentary work on migrant farm workers in the California Central Valley.

Richard Koci Hernandez is a national Emmy award winning video and multimedia producer and worked as a photojournalist at the San Jose Mercury News for 15 years. His work has appeared in Time, Wired, The New York Times, a National Geographic book and international magazines. In 2008, Richard was awarded a national Emmy award for the New Approaches to Documentary category for his executive producer work on the Mercury News video entitled, Uprooted. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor for New Media at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.

Audio & Podcasting

Ben Manilla is one of America’s foremost award winning, audio producers. His 30-year career spans all aspects of creative sound production. He has invented series for National Public Radio, The Disney Company, The Library of Congress, CBS, PBS, and many others. He created a full-time satellite channel for Starbucks, invented a new music format for public radio in Milwaukee, and for 20 years has collaborated with Dan Aykroyd on the House of Blues radio series. Together, they wrote the book, “Elwood’s Blues”.

Coding & Programming

Evan Wagstaff is currently a Los Angeles Times web producer, managing the organization’s homepage, building interactive projects, and supporting the relaunch of the new responsive site at latimes.com. An alumnus of the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Evan has a background in traditional journalism with experience in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. He is the lead programming and coding instructor for Berkeley Advanced Media Institute.

Animation & Games

Jessi Harrison A. is the creative director at Justastic Entertainment, a boutique multi-platform entertainment agency, and lead instructor for games and animation workshops at Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. Jessi has contributed to several productions with companies such as Sony Computer Entertainment, Prima Publishing, Foundation 9 Studios, and George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic.  She has worked as producer in game production for games such as the original “Death Jr.”, and as project coordinator in research & development for animation and effects supporting titles such as,”Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”. She’s produced and directed independent short films including “Surprise” that was nominated for “Best Short Film” award at the Los Angeles Indie Fest, 2009. She is also credited as a co-creator for the graphic novel, “Paranormals”.