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Sean McManus has resigned as co-president of Film Independent, a post he has held since January 2012. Josh Welsh, the indie film organization’s other co-president, will become sole president of the organization, effective immediately, Film Independent’s board chair Mary Sweeney announced Wednesday.
McManus joined Film Independent in 1998 as development director and was promoted to senior director in 2006 and interim director in 2010. In 2012, he and Welsh were named co-presidents following the departure of Dawn Hudson, who left Film Independent to become CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
McManus is credited with playing a role in expanding the organization, whose annual budget has grown from about $1.6 million to more than $8.5 million. He has led the organization’s diversity initiatives as well as its marketing, operations and administrative functions. Welsh spent 10 years responsible for the overall design, strategic planning and implementation of Film Independent’s Artist Development programs, including Filmmaker Labs for directors, screenwriters, producers and documentarians, Project Involve and the Grants Program. He designed the curriculum for all the Filmmaker Labs and oversaw the selection of all fellows from 2001 until becoming co-president. Welsh also ran the Fast Track film financing market that takes place during the Los Angeles Film Festival.
McManus began his career in the nonprofit sector as a development professional, holding positions at USC and serving for one year as the director of major gifts at AFI before moving to Film Independent.
“Sean McManus has been an important and highly valued member of the team at Film Independent for 15 years, first as a transformative director of development and for the past 18 months as co-president with Josh Welsh,” Sweeney said. “His skills, determination and signature enthusiasm have been instrumental in the tremendous growth of Film Independent during those years. We are deeply grateful to him for all his contributions, and he shall be missed. We know that he will move on to even greater accomplishments, and he has the continued full support of the Film Independent staff and board of directors.”
In announcing his departure, McManus said, “It’s been a privilege to be a part of Film Independent for the past 15 years. Over that time, I’ve seen the organization grow from a small group of filmmakers to the nation’s leading champion for the independent film community, expanding the breadth of its programs and impact on culture. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented individuals nurturing independent voices, including my co-president for the last 18 months, Josh Welsh, and FIND’s prior chief, Dawn Hudson. The collective work of FIND’s extraordinary board and committed staff has been a true joy — one that I’ll cherish for a lifetime.
“Upon the close of our terrific 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, it felt like a natural time to look ahead, and I’ve realized that this is the perfect time to make a change in my own life. As a result, I have decided to step down as co-president. My immediate plans are to take the next few months off and explore some options. In the meantime, I want to express my deep gratitude to all my friends and colleagues throughout the independent film community for their artistry, inspiration and support.”
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