Meet the Team

Hi. The first thing you need to know about us (the people who work at CCTV) is that we love each other. A lot. We live to see each other thrive, to make each other laugh, and to make stuff together.

We’re creative, smart, intergenerational, and from all different backgrounds. We’re also incredibly humble. ;)

To put together the bios you see below, every team member filled out a (very thorough, little bit off-the-wall) questionnaire about every other team member.

Here is what we had to say about each other:

Jessica Smyser

Headshot of Jessica Smyser team member

Jessica Smyser

she/her/hers

Executive Director

  • BA in American Studies, Smith College
  • Master’s degree in Organizational Development/ Ethical Leadership,  Claremont Lincoln University
  • Nearly two decades of progressive nonprofit leadership
kermit-frog

Jessica has been our Executive Director since January 2021. She came to CCTV with over 14 years of progressive nonprofit leadership experience, plus a “past life” as the Marketing Director for Rounder Records in Cambridge and the General Manager of Q-Division Records in Somerville.

Since she’s taken over leadership, she’s been so committed to honoring the spirit & uplifting the voices of Cambridge. She has made it her mission to shepherd CCTV into the 21st Century, without losing our connection to where we came from… and we think she’s doing a great job. :)

Jessica has always championed the power of learning and the arts, creating connection, healing and justice for people of all ages. We love that she shows up as her real self, is forward thinking without being disrespectful to the past, and we are ALL on board with her vision for CCTV.

She leads by listening. She laughs. She makes corny jokes in the middle of important meetings. She is truly committed to leading an inclusive, equitable organization. We’re so glad she’s in charge.

“I love hearing people's stories and fostering intergenerational exchange.“

Best quality

She is transparent, encourages our wildest ideas, and supports our mental health. (That’s 3 qualities. She gets extra.)

Most overused phrase

“Fundraising, partnerships, staff meeting, payroll, annual report, board meeting…” (hey, it ain’t easy being the boss.)

Nerd alert!

Always won the Current Events award in grade school. 🤓

7th grade alter ego

Badass rocker who always does her homework.

Knows everything about

Every random Cambridge-related issue.

Secret BFF

She was too cool to tell us.

Maritza Grooms

Headshot of Maritza Grooms team member

Maritza Grooms

she/her/hers

Associate Director of Community Relations

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Boston University
  • Co-host of History in Lowell
hell-yeah-yeah

Maritza is a proud Lowellian who directs our outreach, communication, and community building efforts. With over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector, she pours her expertise in speaking, dismantling oppressive systems, workshop facilitation, and social media management into everything she does.

She leads by example, making her mental health a priority and lavishing the rest of us with encouragement and support. We are obsessed with her laugh and the cozy clothes she likes to sport at work.

Maritza co-hosts I’m Bad at This with Peter, our Executive Producer of The Make Media Workshop @ CCTV. I’m Bad at This is a bi-weekly sit down where Maritza and Peter discuss life, culture, social awkwardness, and other human things at which they are, you know, not very good.

“CCTV is the best team of supportive, creative, passionate people—all working together to provide a platform to empower people to use their voices, learn something new, or create something cool. I love that I get to meet all kinds of people from different walks of life with interesting perspectives.”

Best quality

Ability to expand ideas and help them take shape.

Most overused phrase

“Awww, Suki Suki Na!”

Nerd alert!

Reads a lot. Like… a lot.

7th grade alter ego

The fun weirdo who’s friends with everyone.

Knows everything about

Lowell. And also Dune.

Secret BFF

Jessica Smyser

Peter Levine

Headshot of Peter Levine team member

Peter Levine

he/him/his

Executive Producer of The Make Media Workshop

  • Bachelors of Music Performance (Cello), Boston University
  • Founder of the Weird Local Film Festival
Man gesturing with his hand to come over and then mouthing the words "It's free real estate" as he words appear graphically from his mouth

CCTV’s coolest and most well produced videos are usually produced by or supervised by Peter, who’s been making videos since he was a kid.  Peter creates & edits video content for CCTV, provides 1-1 mentorship for our members, and plans & teaches media workshops and events.

He also manages our intern program and works closely with Seth to help CCTV community members with their projects.

Peter is the fuel to everyone’s creativity & productivity at CCTV. He’s got his own style completely realized, but he’s also a master at giving a client exactly what they want & need. He’s not afraid to bring up difficult discussions, and he’s got a gift for figuring out what to do in difficult creative situations.

Peter co-hosts I’m Bad at This with Maritza, our Associate Director of Community Relations. I’m Bad at This is a bi-weekly sit down where Maritza and Peter discuss life, culture, social awkwardness, and other human things at which they are, you know, not very good.

“CCTV aligns perfectly with one of my main goals, which is to use media to foster community. I love making stuff, helping people make stuff, and helping people find other people who can help them make stuff. And that is essentially my entire job—so, pretty cool!”

Best quality

We had a lot to choose from, but the general consensus is that he is a truly great teacher.

Constantly saying

“You should make something!”

Nerd alert!

He’s not a fan of the Marvel Comic Universe, and we all agree that that’s weird.

7th grade alter ego

Overachiever who is also the angsty class clown

Knows everything about

Cameras, production equipment, comedy + the Weird Local Film Festival (which he founded)

Secret BFF

He says he can’t tell us without destroying the fabric of the relationship.

Seth Myer

Headshot of Seth Myer team member

Seth Myer

he/him/his

Associate Director of Community Production

  • Digital Media at Northeastern University
Homer Simpson slowly stepping backwards into a hedge until he is not visible

Seth is a Cambridge native in charge of coordinating and managing original CCTV productions, as well as seeking out & hiring media producers and editors, supervising interns, and managing live streaming productions.

We ALL mentioned the sense of peace he brings to the workplace (but we also all mentioned his love of BLTs, so…🤷🏽)

Seth has been with CCTV for over six years, and his studio & production expertise is unmatched. His thoughtfulness, subtle humor, and attentiveness show up in every aspect of our community productions, from inception to completion.

That production quality we’re so proud of? All Seth.

“Being able to engage the community meant so much to me growing up.  To give a platform to those who otherwise would not have their voices heard is also very meaningful.”

Best quality

His calmness balances the team’s energy and he can navigate overwhelming situations without losing his cool.

Is always saying

“Sick!”

Nerd alert!

Is constantly sharing videos of daughter Myla, telling you about his pandemic garden, and/or eating BLTs.

7th grade alter ego

Goofy jock who hangs with the AV nerds

Knows everything about

90s hip hop

Dislikes

Ryan Reynolds; ice cream

Alfonso Mateo

Headshot of Alfonso Mateo team member

Alfonso Mateo

he/him/his

Programming & Events Manager

  • BFA in Visual and Media Arts Production, concentration in screenwriting, Emerson College
RuPaul in blonde wig and dress, raising old-fashioned spectacles to their face to peer at something off-camera

Alfonso schedules CCTV’s programming across all three of our live television networks, as well as coordinating our live shows and handling program submissions. He uses his innate creativity and sense of style to design killer live sets, curate the best programming playlists, manage our art gallery, and more.

We’re obsessed with the way he gives each day of programming its own narrative arc, the low-key, chill energy he brings, and his amazing kicks. We are unanimous in our opinion that Alfonso’s creativity is his superpower, and we love how he takes his time to observe and process.

Alfonso co-hosts What’s Up Twenties?, a weekly podcast with his bestie, our Youth & Administrative Manager Yanka.

“My favorite part of working at CCTV is the creative freedom I have. I love programming curation, the supportive work environment, and being in the middle of everything in Central Square.”

Best quality

How intentional & thoughtful he is in using our programming schedule to uplift marginalized voices.

Most overused phrase

“It’s giving…” (as in, “It’s giving big Harry Styles vibes)

Nerd alert!

Marvel movies. (Also… Harry Styles)

7th grade alter ego

Quiet writer who hangs out with the art weirdos, but all the cool kids have a secret crush on him.

Knows everything about

Harry Styles

Celebrity Crush

Hm. Harry Styles?

Ellen Daoust

Headshot of Ellen Daoust team member

Ellen Daoust

she/her/hers

Associate Director of Education

  • BA in Government and Spanish, Smith College
  • MS in Applied Communications, Fitchburg State University
  • Graduate Certificate in Digital Video, Northeastern University
Looking down on Rod Stewart dancing on a black and white checkered floor wearing a white suit and black shades

Ellen is our resident badass feminist; she plans, schedules, and manages all of our amazing educational content. She is the bridge between our instructors & facilitators and the students who take our classes & workshops—and she is especially gifted at facilitating an intergenerational exchange between our younger students and our elders.

We are all a little bit dazzled by how wonderful she is with students, her killer ideas for new classes to offer, her groundedness, and her empathy. She is fantastic at contributing to a safe space where we all feel safe to speak our minds.

The reason CCTV is known as the *best* place to learn media skills is because of the programs Ellen has created.

We also think she’d want us to mention that she has several amazing houseplants, and a little daughter named Ruth.

“I love working at CCTV because it is a vibrant and quirky community of people that are passionate about free speech, civic engagement and creative expression! Doesn’t get much better than that.”

Best quality

She’s honest and straightforward and outspoken, and also kind, empathetic, and creates a safe space for the rest of us to be vulnerable.

Constantly Saying

“The class is full.”

Nerd alert!

Of all our staff members, Ellen is the only one that nobody made fun of.

7th grade alter ego

Chill overachiever with a book & awesome boots

Knows everything about

Massachusetts politics

Celebrity Crush

Kumail Nanjiani / Manny Jacinto

Yanka Petri

Headshot of Yanka Petri team member

Yanka Petri

she/her/hers

Youth & Administrative Manager

  • BFA in Photography, Massachusetts College of Art and Design
  • Film/Video and Events Assistant Mentor,  Artists For Humanity in Boston
Spongebob Squarepants dancing and looking happy

Yanka participated in our Youth Media Program in 2013 after relocating to Cambridge from Curitiba, Brazil, and stuck around until her high school graduation, when she was hired as a Teaching Artist in the Youth Media Program. Nine years later, after a stint at Massachusetts College of Art & Design, we welcomed her back as our Youth & Administrative Manager, and we are sooo glad she’s here.

Yanka teaches, manages, and coordinates our entire Youth Program, in addition to handling all of our front desk responsibilities, including fielding phone calls, managing equipment & studio space reservations, helping with productions, and pretty much anything else she can get her hands on.

No one loves CCTV as much as Yanka, and it shows. She is kind, helpful, sees the best in people, and truly cares about her community. We think she’s the glue that holds CCTV together.

Yanka co-hosts What’s Up Twenties?, a weekly podcast with her bestie, our Programming & Events Manager Alfonso.

“CCTV means the absolute world to me. I have grown into the adult, artist and professional person I am because of this place. I love working with our community members to deliver high quality production, events and to uplift their voices through media!” 

Best quality

She asked us to say it’s her cat Mochi, but we think it’s her ability to connect with every person she talks to, and her commitment to asking “What’s the right thing to do?”

Special Talent

Can speak in emojis.

Nerd alert!

Photography, streetwear, and angel numbers. Also, her plants have names.

7th grade alter ego

“Most Friendly,” popular cool kid with big “mom” energy.

Knows everything about

Sneakers

Celebrity Crush

Bad Bunny

Josh Artman

Josh Artman

Josh Artman

he/him/his

Station Operations Manager

Man smashing computer with a hammer while smiling

What is your role at CCTV?

I’m our Station Operations Manager! It’s my job to make sure our facilities are best equipped to serve our community and empower our producers. I’m also our lead video engineer, technical director, and cable wrangler. From researching new transmission protocols to re-organizing the equipment closet, there’s no task too big or small for me to Station Ops-ify!

What were you doing before you landed here?

I was working for a small video production company down in Norwood called 5 Tool Productions. I was the team’s lead technical director and helped livestream countless virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. Before that I worked for a few different radio stations and museums around Boston. I also used to be one of Peter’s production interns here at CCTV, back in 2019 up until the start of the pandemic. Fun stuff!

Where are you from? 

I grew up in Metuchen, a small town in the glorious land of Central New Jersey. Many people will tell you that Central Jersey doesn’t exist – these people are likely from North or even South Jersey (yuck!), so you can disregard their uninformed opinions.

Tell us about your family: humans, pets, plants, etc.

My dad still lives at home, and my older brother Daniel lives nearby in Florham Park, NJ. They both commute into Manhattan and work for a financial company called MIAC Analytics. I’ve never had any pets, outside of a pet rock named Rocky that I had joint-custody of in elementary and middle school – can you tell I really wanted a dog but never got one? Presently I live in Allston with two lovely roommates and four beautiful houseplants… just don’t ask me to pick a favorite!

What do your friends love best about you?

I’m a naturally curious person! I love having conversations with friends about topics I know very little about, and I try to channel that curiosity into my work, hobbies, and the way I interact with people and the material world. But I may be a bit biased — you’d have to ask one of my friends!

What are you most excited about in your new role with CCTV?

I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to work with our amazing community of CCTV Producers! The CCTV facilities are seriously amazing, but some of our equipment and studios have been understandably under-utilized during the pandemic. Coming into the role right as CCTV is preparing for a busier summer, I’m excited to take this opportunity to modernize some of our production workflows, work with Alfonso in Programming to come up with new formats for the types of live shows we offer, and do anything else I can to make producing media at CCTV as fun, easy, and accessible as possible. I’m a community DJ myself over at WZBC so I know first-hand  that in this media landscape, community media is more important than ever!

What’s your 7th grade alter ego?

I was a bit of a troublemaker in the 7th grade! I’m not sure if it was bad enough to  count as a whole alter ego, but I used to act out a lot, both at school and especially at Hebrew school. Luckily I had some music teachers who helped me clean my act up, and I imagine having my Bar Mitzvah that year also did a lot to change my worldview. 2013 truly was the year I became a man!

Who or what are you a total nerd for?

My current obsession is with antiquated analog video tech, is that nerdy enough?? Me and my friend Harley have a new project called Digital Awareness, where we take the old hardware found in our childhood basements (tape camcorders, CRT TVs, VHS players), add in a few extra pieces of second-hand gear we’ve bought, and use the whole Frankensteiny system to create and project live visuals for local bands at bars and venues around town. It’s so fun to repurpose old gear from 30+ years ago and make something new with it, plus it makes you realize how we take for granted all of our newer tech that seemingly “just works.”

What weird thing do you know everything about?

Perhaps not everything, but I know far more about Jim Davis’ popular cartoon strip Garfield  than the average person ever should. Mr. Davis created the strip in 1976, after spending three years unsuccessfully trying to launch another series called Gnorm Gnat. People kept telling him that nobody was going to read a comic strip about insects, and after seeing the massive popularity of the popular Peanuts character Snoopy, Jim decided to create a strip centered around a large orange cat that hates Mondays and loves lasagna. And the rest, as they say, is history.