Caty Borum Chattoo is Director of the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI), an innovation lab and research center at American University that creates, showcases and studies media designed for social change; and Executive in Residence at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. She is an award-winning communication strategist, documentary film/TV producer and communication researcher working at the intersection of social-change, and documentary and entertainment storytelling.
Borum Chattoo’s social-change storytelling, strategy and research work has been featured in USA Today, NPR, Businessweek, The Huffington Post, and PBS MediaShift, and her social justice documentaries have aired internationally and nationally on Netflix, the Sundance Channel, Pivot, NDTV (India), PBS World, Link TV, KCET, DirectTV and theatrically. She has produced two documentary feature films (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and The After Party), a TV documentary and transmedia series (Stand Up Planet, starring Hasan Minhaj from The Daily Show), a multi-part documentary TV series focused on global poverty (ViewChange), a seven-part environmental justice documentary TV series (Sierra Club Chronicles), and PSA campaigns designed for social change on issues ranging from global poverty to climate change to HIV.
Peer-reviewed research is featured and forthcoming in leading communication scholarly journals, including Journal of Communication, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Oxford Bibliographies in Communication. She has been a featured presenter, speaker and workshop leader on the intersection of nonfiction storytelling and social justice at leading academic conferences (International Communication Association, National Communication Association), professional social-change conferences (Skoll World Forum, TEDx, Frank Conference for Social Change), international film festivals and convenings (Tribeca Film Festival, AFI DOCS, DOC NYC, European Documentary Network) and other professional gatherings. She serves on the board of directors for Working Films, a non-profit organization working at the intersection of documentary storytelling and community engagement, and Kartemquin Films, a leading social-justice film production company. Her research and creative work has been funded most recently by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Participant Media, Univision/Fusion, Atlantic Philanthropies, Fledgling Fund, Independent Television Service (ITVS), Odyssey Networks, Working Films, Link Media, KCETLink and more.
Previously, she was senior vice president in the social marketing (social/behavior change) practice group at FleishmanHillard International Communications in Washington, D.C., where she served on the senior leadership team for a national White House teen prescription drug campaign that won the communication industry’s highest honor, the Silver Anvil for Public Service. In Los Angeles, she was a longtime collaborator with legendary TV producer and philanthropist/activist Norman Lear as a founding director of Declare Yourself and special projects director & senior producer at the USC Norman Lear Center, a research and public policy center that examines the social impact of entertainment on society. She also served as the program officer in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Entertainment Media & Public Health program, where she managed research-based HIV-awareness partnership programs, TV specials and PSA campaigns with MTV and BET; project director at the Center for Media Education; and fellow in civic journalism at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Borum Chattoo holds an M.A. in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania (The Annenberg School for Communication), and a B.A. in Communication Studies (summa cum laude, In Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Top Scholar award) from Virginia Tech. She has completed coursework toward the MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television in Los Angeles.