100 Women We Love: Heather Connell
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From arts to healing: That’s been Heather Connell’s storied path. The Massachusetts native began her journey studying screenwriting and theater arts, before moving to Los Angeles in 2001 and founding Displaced Yankee Productions—an independent film company dedicated to using film as a platform for raising social awareness and activism through entertainment. After making two short films, Choosing Your Course (2002) and Black and White (2004), Connell produced and directed her first documentary, the award-winning Small Voices: The Stories of Cambodia’s Children. Her most recent film, Forget Us Not, is an in-depth look at the persecution of non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust. “I was instantly hooked on the concept of using media as a way to tell stories that encouraged awareness and activism,” says Connell. “After making a series of short films that focused on social issues, including the death penalty, gay parenting and interracial marriage, I realized this was truly my passion. Documentary was an organic transition from there.” While visiting Siem Reap five years ago, she met three-year-old Sum Namg, an orphan with cerebral palsy. He inspired Connell to create Safe Haven Medical Outreach, a nonprofit supporting children with disabilities, where she serves as executive director. –NHM