Justine Nagan BA2000 is the executive director at American Documentary and the executive producer on its two signature series: POV (Point of View), its award-winning documentary series on PBS, and America ReFramed (World Channel).
After graduation, she joined Kartemquin Films, a documentary film organization in Chicago that focuses on social justice. She started as a volunteer, became director of communications and distribution, and rose to the post of executive director. She also gained an international profile as a director of her own 2009 film, Typeface, about the postindustrial trials of a small Wisconsin town that sports a funky arts magnet in the form of a factory-sized museum with more than one million pieces of wooden letters or type.
Nagan has been an executive producer on a number of other films as well, including Life Itself, which won the 2015 Best Documentary Award from the Producers Guild of America; The Interrupters, which won a 2013 Emmy and was broadcast on PBS’s FRONTLINE; The Trials of Muhammad Ali, which won an Emmy in 2015; and the six-part series Hard Earned, which won a Columbia-Dupont Journalism Award in 2015.
Nagan, a native of the Twin Cities, says it all started when she was a student volunteer at the Wisconsin Film Festival. She went on to earn a master’s in the humanities with an emphasis on cinema and media studies from the University of Chicago, as well as a certificate in nonprofit management from the Harvard Business School. During her seven years of leadership at Kartemquin, the organization significantly expanded its programs to assist documentary filmmakers and saw unprecedented levels of production and financial growth.
In addition to being a recipient of a 2012 Forward under 40 Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association, some of Nagan’s numerous other honors include: Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, 2012; UW–Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications Nafziger Award for Young Alumni, 2010; member of the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive program; and Wisconsin Film Festival juror, 2010.