How APEX Members Massive, Cinesky Pictures, CMI Management and Terri Steiner International Are Giving Back


APEX_Experience_8e5_Multipart-3APEX members do good by working to improve the passenger experience – but also by donating their time and money to the charitable causes they support. For Massive, Cinesky Pictures, CMI Management and Terry Steiner International, that means empowering underprivileged communities. Read about other APEX members giving back here and here.

Women at Work

By Ali Zafar

It takes an inconceivable amount of strength to overcome the wounds of war. That’s why the nonprofit Women for Women International is supporting victims of conflict through an array of initiatives that get women on their feet after enduring unfathomable violence.

“It is difficult to imagine the struggles faced by women survivors of war,” says Derek Ellis, chief creative officer and co-founder of Massive, which has invited representatives from the humanitarian organization to speak at events, providing them with a platform to meet potential donors. The company’s chief operations officer, Monique Ellis, also offers her time and expertise, as a member of Women for Women International’s Leadership Circle.

By teaching women how to achieve economic independence and about their rights as citizens, Women for Women International is helping rebuild lives torn apart by conflict in several countries, including Afghanistan, Rwanda and Iraq.

One of the reasons why Massive, a company that specializes in delivering video entertainment experiences, is supporting the nonprofit is it is reaping the benefits of a diverse workforce: Twenty-five percent of Massive’s 350 employees are women – an eight percent jump from the average in the IT sector in the UK. “This is continually growing, and every day we see the benefits of female leadership, technical expertise and management. We are trying to do our bit to ensure this growth is seen across the world in all communities,” Derek Ellis says.

Women for Women International participants at a demonstration farm in Nigeria, where they are learning efficient crop farming techniques including use of fertiliser, seed placement and crop spacing. Image: Women for Women International

In addition to supporting the nonprofit, Massive has launched a paper, titled Active Inclusion: The Massive Guide to Diversity, that looks at the lack of diversity in the tech industry. “It gives a short introduction to diversity and inclusion for anyone who is new to the topic and provides information on what it means to us at Massive, the challenges of working in global tech and achieving a diverse workforce,” Ellis says.

Although Massive works with clients from various industries, Ellis says working with the aviation industry – its clients include Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines and International Airlines Group – means taking on exciting challenges.

“We bring a lot of best practices and insights into how people consume video entertainment, discover content and tackle accessibility, and how to design inclusive onboard digital experiences,” he says. “We love the complexity of the onboard environment.”

Pet Projects

By Paul Sillers

Every year, employees of Cinesky Pictures, a distributor of independent films to the airline sector and the wider non-theatrical market, select charities that touch them personally. “I feel very blessed by the successes we’ve had as a company and the support we’ve received along the way from the IFE [in-flight entertainment] industry, so I’m very mindful to give back,” says Betsy Hamlin, founder and CEO of Cinesky.

Beneficiaries include the LGBTQ+ community through Cinesky’s donations to the Village Health Foundation and Outfest. Last year, Cinesky donated airline tickets to fly Jewel Thais-Williams to London for a screening of Jewel’s Catch One, a documentary based on her life: Thais-Williams helped change laws, save lives and influence communities across LA while running her legendary gay nightclub, the oldest black-owned institution of its kind, for 42 years.

In another charitable initiative, Cinesky’s chief financial officer, Lorraine Evanoff (who volunteers at Operation Adopt), was fostering a dog named Scamp when Cinesky’s staff decided to photograph it for the company’s new website. “Scamp ended up in one of the group portraits, and Betsy decided to make a donation to Operation Adopt and use the photo for our 2017 holiday card,” Evanoff says. “In a happy ending, Scamp found a forever home!”

The Cinesky team, with foster dog Scamp in the middle. Image: Cinesky

Transforming Lives With HOPE

By Paul Sillers

Cindy Taylor, a consultant at CMI Media Management, volunteers her time and energy to Operation HOPE-Vista, a program for the homeless, that provides a safe haven for families with children and single mothers rebuilding their lives in and around Vista, California. In addition to sustaining the mission of the organization in her role as president

of the board of directors, Taylor is hands-on when it comes to preparing and serving meals and interacting with the residents – especially the children.

“Being part of a nonprofit organization that gives families in my local community the tools and resources that empower them to become independent is a privilege.” €” Cindy Taylor, CMI Management

Taylor’s involvement began over a decade ago, when a friend invited her to help organize a fundraiser: “As soon as I met the families who were working to reclaim their independence and I got a chance to play with the kids, seeing how they felt safe and happy, I knew I was going to be a part of it for the long term.” CMI’s co-owners, Haitham Wahab and Ken Wynne, as well others in the industry, support her volunteer work through financial contributions, resource donations   and encouragement.

“Being part of a nonprofit organization that gives families in my local community the tools and resources that empower them to become independent is a privilege,” Taylor says.

Take a Seat

By Paul Sillers

New York-based film, TV and digital content distributor Terry Steiner International (TSI) designs its exhibition booth for APEX EXPO in such a way that, following the show each year, its furnishings will have a second life in the service of a worthy cause.

“We set up our booth to be comfortable, like coming into someone’s living room or dining room, and we donate couches, coffee tables, chairs, pillows and sometimes small dining tables,” Terry Steiner, president of TSI, says. TSI’s office manager, Yvette Mang, selects the recipients of the furniture, which have included homeless shelters and organizations that help families in re-establishing homes.

“One year, in Toronto, the woman to whom we were donating our booth furniture showed up and burst into tears when she met Yvette and saw the living room and dining room we were giving her,” Steiner says. “She was a woman who was abused and had just been given an apartment for herself and her two children.”

“Giving Back” was originally published in the 8.5 December/January issue of APEX Experience magazine.