Hosted by Sam Waterston of Law & Order, the documentary series highlights the rarely told stories of nonprofit organizations all around the world that are working to make a positive difference in their community and beyond.
Visionaries' production crews have traveled across six continents and to more than 50 American cities to profile the extraordinary work of true philanthropists- people dedicating their lives and careers to the service of others. From Refugees International to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and art museums to humane societies, Visionaries tells the stories of individuals dedicated to changing the status quo in an effort to promote positive coexistence. The documentaries seek to inspire vast audiences, serve as catalysts for positive social change and promote philanthropy on a global level.
From the beginning, the concept of Visionaries was to utilize television as an instrument of service by producing positive, uplifting, and inspiring shows about individuals working for nonprofits in an effort to make the world a better place. Although the nonprofit sector is one of the most active segments in the work force today, the media, who tend to focus on negative images, has largely ignored it. By profiling the people who are providing medical care, feeding the hungry, educating the poor and giving life and dignity back to millions of people around the world, and witnessing firsthand the successes of these ventures, Visionaries has set out to show that one person can make a difference.
Bill Mosher's career began as a writer in the early 1980's when he founded his own hometown newspaper. He developed his writing skills as publisher of two weekly newspapers - publications which earned him top awards in investigative reporting from the Massachusetts Press Association and the New England Press Association. As a freelance writer, his work has been published by scores of newspapers and magazines, both here and abroad. He is also the author of numerous short stories and novellas; the co-author of two books on local Massachusetts history; and the author of Visionaries, a companion book to The Visionaries television series. Bill's interest in documenting philanthropic work began during an assignment for Boston Magazine in South America. That trip led to writing and producing videos for many nonprofit organizations, working on location in India, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. Bill's work in television began in 1992 with a project for the Stobart Foundation: a 13-part television series that encouraged young artists to paint directly from nature. The series focused on world-renowned maritime artist John Stobart as he traveled around the globe painting original landscapes on camera. Hosted by Walter Cronkite, WorldScape was broadcast on public television stations nationwide. Since 1993, Bill has dedicated himself to creating, producing and promoting The Visionaries.
Jody Santos has reported for television and print news for the last 20 years, and has been producing and directing documentaries for PBS and cable networks like Discovery and the Hallmark Channel since 2000. She has traveled to more than 30 countries across five continents, documenting everything from the trafficking of girls in Nepal to the reproductive rights of women in Ghana.
Regardless of the medium, Jody's goal has remained the same: to shed light on the social injustices of the day. As a special projects producer for NBC in Boston, she was nominated for an Emmy for a special report on an effort to rid the city’s streets of black market guns. Her documentary, No One Left Behind, won a Telly Award last year in the social responsibility category. It was selected from over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents.
Jody’s book, Daring to Feel: Violence, the News Media, and Their Emotions, explores how journalists cover violence and challenges the journalistic mandate of objectivity. Interviewing reporters who have covered some of the worst tragedies in our nation’s history, Jody shows what happens when the news media dare to feel. No longer detached observers, they are free to see violence in all of its emotional complexity.
The Visionaries is hosted by acclaimed actor Sam Waterston, star of Law & Order, Newsroom, and The Killing Fields. Waterston’s personal effort to become involved with humanitarian work that was important to him began after his Best Actor Oscar-nominated performance in the 1984 film The Killing Fields. Waterston played Sydney Schanberg, a real-life New York Times journalist who escaped the horrors of war-torn Cambodia with the help of his Cambodian colleague, Dith Pran. For Waterston, working on the film and learning about Cambodia’s genocidal Khmer Rouge regime was a life-altering experience. It motivated him to get involved with Refugees International, an organization instrumental in helping Cambodian refugees, as well as other people around the world who have been displaced by war and disaster. In its first season The Visionaries profiled Judy Mayotte, one of Refugees International’s most tireless advocates, and it was this program that motivated Waterston to participate in the series. Says Waterston, “As the spirit of the people in The Visionaries shows us, it’s about putting it out there and seeing what happens. Doing what you can about huge, intractable problems; now that’s an idea worth encouraging.” Waterston still won’t take a cent for his time hosting The Visionaries. Waterston does not stand aloof; he is genuinely interested in The Visionaries – giving input and offering support. He has been a wonderful spokesperson and supporter of The Visionaries.
Elizabeth, better known as “Lit,” joined Visionaries in 1995 as a bookkeeper and through the years her job evolved into the day-to-day running of the television series and the start-up of the Visionaries Institute. After being executive director for several years, she branched out and trained to be the audio person. Traveling all over the world with the production teams is the highlight of her job. Who wouldn’t love learning all the many cultures and getting to watch all these amazing organizations make a better world? Lit started working in the nonprofit world during her senior year at Stonehill College in Easton, MA. Within a week of signing up to do her internship with a nonprofit called Por Cristo, she had her passport and was off to Guayaquil, Ecuador, traveling with a group of physicians and medical professionals who traveled to third world countries to teach their counterparts modern medical care. The experience was so profound that it changed her career path from her dream of working in hospital administration to working in the nonprofit world. Before joining Visionaries, Inc., her previous positions included being Special Events Director for American Lung Association of Massachusetts and Director of Volunteers and Special Events for the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Moose Hill Sanctuary. Lit is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and has a wonderful husband who holds the fort down whiles she travels.
Bruce has worked for over 20 years in broadcast, industrial and documentary television production as a director of photography, camera operator and lighting director. He has also instructed seminars and courses in video production with the ITVA, Emerson College and the International Film and Television Workshops in Rockport, Maine. Bruce has shot in virtually every major city in the U.S. and over 50 foreign countries.
Ever since 2005, John has brought the highest quality to the Visionaries post-production. He has a long track record, three decades, as a preferred editor at the best post houses of Boston. Experienced with all aspects of production, with John’s focus on editing and graphics he was in demand at Videocraft, Video One, Target, and Multivision post houses, among others, and at Avid Technologies as a features consultant and test engineer, and at Convergent Media Systems as senior editor and national tech consultant. John moved from that scene to documentaries and PBS work in the latter 1990s. After editing at WGBH, John Rubin Productions, and Powderhouse Productions, the mission of the Visionaries attracted John – spreading the good news of non-profit efforts out there helping people. John is responsible for post production for the entire series and responsible for sending off our all our shows to PBS each season in the best of quality.
Mike, the son of founder Bill Mosher, began his work at Visionaries in the spring of 2016 after graduating from Hampshire College. He studied religion, philosophy, and American History, doing his senior thesis on the ‘praying towns’ of 17th century Massachusetts, which sought to convert Native Americans to Puritan Christianity. Growing up, Visionaries was always a part of his life, and along with his mother’s career as a social worker, instilled an understanding of the importance of philanthropy and helping others. They also imparted their creative qualities on him, his mother being a pianist (actually contributing music to the earliest Visionaries episodes) and his father being a landscape painter. Mike is a musician and visual artist. He currently lives in Central Massachusetts,
Isabel began working for Visionaries in 2012 as an assistant editor to founder Bill Mosher, who trained her in editing and documentary filmmaking as well as acting as a mentor. In 2015, she traveled to Mexico City with Visionaries and an organization called Disability Rights International. There, through her field experience recording cases of abuse and neglect of those with disabilities, she gained a new passion and eagerness to help people and to document the stories of organizations striving to implement social change. Today, Isabel continues to train as an editor and in her spare time enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family.
Jessica graduated from Stonehill College in 2014 with a BSC in Environmental Science and a BA in Psychology. During her time at Stonehill College, a service-centered institution, Jessica took advantage of opportunities to understand social justice issues through volunteer service trips that brought her to West Virginia and Nicaragua where she worked closely with non-profit organizations. After graduating, she served for one year in rural Northeast India as a volunteer co-lecturer for Stonehill Service Corp at Holy Cross College. Her passion for learning about other cultures and her eagerness to work closely with non-profit organizations that are dedicated to using scientific, ethical and interdisciplinary approaches to solutions for complex worldly issues inspired her to begin working for Visionaries in Spring 2016 as an Associate Producer. She is excited to explore her niche among the dedicated Visionaries team. Bill Mosher and Elizabeth Turner have been guiding her as she develops her skills including research, grant writing, non-profit outreach, video editing and transcription for the Visionaries’ 22nd Season.
Emily joined the Visionaries team in the summer of 2018 shortly after moving to Massachusetts. A Colorado native and a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Emily lived in California for many years. She received her media training at Bay Area Video Coalition and Media Alliance in San Francisco and worked on independent, promotional, training, educational, and industrial media projects. Emily has now happily returned to video production after a hiatus to raise her children. Her passions are: foster care/adoption, youth development, immigration, social justice and environmental sustainability. Emily is proud to be involved with the Visionaries and helping to shine light on the good in our world.
David first came to Visionaries in 1999 as a student of the Visionaries Institute of Suffolk University. Prior to joining Visionaries, Inc., David worked as a motion-picture cameraman in Hollywood and the Southeast US. With the completion of his Masters Degree in Philanthropy and Media, he worked on Visionaries productions in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Ukrane, the Dominican Republic and the US. Today, David teaches Digital Filmmaking and Media Production at Suffolk University, The New England Institute of Art as well as numerous classes and media workshops throughout New England. David is responsible for the Visionaries website and post-production technologies.