Truth Aid produces multimedia content about the social barriers to well being and translates research into action. Our content creates shared value across diverse stakeholders through the use of compelling narratives and ethnographic research while inspiring and empowering communities to affect social change. We work through academic affiliations, grant funded initiatives, and as a fee-for-service consultancy. Our multimedia projects have been funded by Independent Television Service (ITVS), The Righteous Persons Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, San Francisco Federation Endowment Fund, and others.
Our efforts were born out of the experience of physicians working to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in the South Bronx. We came to realize that conversations about HIV prevention had to start with love, trust, identity, abuse, and support in order to make safe sex a reality. Our efforts to uncover this missing dialogue led us to create new communication strategies to teach about social barriers to well-being that hinged on interdisciplinary methods.
The two principals, Mehret Mandefro and Lacey Schwartz, met during graduate school at Harvard while studying medicine and law respectively. Early in their careers they realized that the emerging issues in their respective disciplines were converging and required integrated approaches. Their collective efforts to think across boundaries and cultivate innovative solutions to tough problems led to Truth Aid.
We produce creative content and educational programming that challenges the world to think different. Through insight consultancy and social innovation, Truth Aid leverages interdisciplinary thought to amplify the impact individuals and organizations can make in their community.
Our services include:
- Media production and consulting: We are available to produce media projects from conception to distribution or can be brought in to consult on specific elements of a project. Our media production services include: content design and management, script evaluation, writing film and television proposals/ treatments, copy and script writing, creating and monitoring budgets and schedules, rights acquisitions, fundraising and grant writing, production and post-production management. Our creative consulting services include: strategic guidance, concept development and pitching, creating and implementing legal business structure, drafting and negotiating legal agreements (development, production, distribution and talent agreements) and all facets of project management.
- Outreach: Educational content, programming and audience engagement;
- Research and analysis; and
- Strategic guidance
Our films have screened at festivals all around the world and appeared on national broadcast channels that include:
Dr. Mehret Mandefro is an interdisciplinary scholar and producer who draws from her background as a medical anthropologist and public health physician to craft textured narrative that explore the social determinants of health. Her research uses clinical medicine, public health, anthropology, and film to examine the health outcomes of vulnerable populations and create what she calls “visual medicine”. She has led innovative research collaborations between academic, government, and relevant stakeholder organizations on an array of domestic and international health policy issues.
Dr. Mandefro began her career as a physician and public health practitioner working extensively with HIV infected and affected communities in Botswana, South Africa, Ethiopia, and New York on issues of prevention and treatment. She subsequently joined the research faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University Pennsylvania as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar where she received a pilot grant to create the nonprofit production company Truth Aid. Her HIV research is the subject of a full feature documentary called All of Us that premiered on Showtime Networks 2008-2010.
Appointed by President Obama as 2009-2010 White House Fellow, Dr. Mandefro worked on behavioral health policy issues for returning Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan War and co-chaired the health systems and life experiences sub-committee of the Federal Inter-agency Health Equity Team, which was responsible for developing the nation’s first public health strategy to eliminate health disparities. Upon completion of her fellowship, she joined the Obama administration and served as a health policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
She was most recently Chief Medical Officer of Amida Tech and on faculty in the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. Dr. Mandefro also serves on the Board of Directors of the international reproductive health organization EngenderHealth as the Chair of Public Affairs and Development.
She received her BA in Anthropology and her MD from Harvard University, and a Masters of Science in the Public Health of Developing Countries at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar. She completed her internal medicine primary care residency at Montefiore Medical Center.
Lacey Schwartz has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and media sector. Lacey has served as a production, development and community consultant for a variety of production companies, networks, and organizations including MTV, BETJ, @radical.media, Institute for Jewish Community and Research and NASCAR.
For her clients, Lacey has been involved in all levels of production, business and creative strategy, from the initial development of creative ideas to physical production and the editing process through distribution. Lacey has worked on projects in conjunction with various entities, including the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Pepsi, GM, L’Oreal, Red Bull, PBS, BMW, BBC, Universal Studios, Universal Music Group, Warner Brothers and the Sundance Channel.
Originally from Woodstock, NY, Lacey graduated cum laude in 1998 from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and a minor in Studio Arts and received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2003.
Previous to her career in television and film production, Lacey worked in corporate, civil rights and entertainment law at Brown and Wood LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison LLP, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and MTV Networks. She also worked as a New York City Public School teacher teaching math and theater while she DJed on the side for an arts organization, band and private parties.