Rachel Raimist named academic director of Elon in Los Angeles program

With past experience in the entertainment industry and higher education, Raimist will take a lead role in coordinating, facilitating and expanding the academic offerings and internship opportunities in Elon’s LA-based program.

Rachel Raimist – a television director, producer and scholar – has been named the academic director of the Elon in Los Angeles program. Created and staffed by the School of Communications, Elon in LA offers spring, summer and fall terms providing students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the media industry while studying, interning and living in the nation’s entertainment capital.

Rachel Raimist, an award-winning filmmaker, has been named the academic director of the Elon in Los Angeles program.

An award-winning filmmaker and professor, Raimist is most widely known for “Nobody Knows My Name,” the first documentary about women in hip-hop distributed by Women Makes Movies. Additionally, she was tapped by renowned filmmaker Ava DuVernay to direct “Queen Sugar” for the Oprah Winfrey Network. Since then, Raimist has served in director roles for “Nancy Drew” and “Roswell, New Mexico” for The CW. She also serves on the leadership team of the Latino Committee and the Women’s Steering Committee of the Directors Guild of America.

In the newly created position, Raimist will take a lead role in coordinating and expanding the academic offerings in the Los Angeles program and providing oversight on LA-based internships in partnership with J McMerty ’00, director of the Elon in Los Angeles program. As an associate professor in cinema and television arts, she will teach and advise students participating in the program’s year-round offerings.

Additionally, Raimist will serve in a leadership position with WEEE (Women of Elon Entertainment Empire) and establish and facilitate a new program for underrepresented communities in entertainment.

Elon faculty, students and staff are already familiar with Raimist, who participated in the school’s virtual national advisory board meeting in the fall. In addition, she has been a visitor to the Elon Los Angeles House to discuss the media and entertainment industries and mentor WEEE members.

“I am so excited to be working with Dr. Raimist as we grow Elon in Los Angeles into an exciting and innovative embassy for Elon on the West Coast,” McMerty said. “We will be adding a fall semester, an admissions component to help create relationships with area high schools, establishing Elon Next Hollywood, a new series of continuing and professional development modules, as well as welcoming students from Butler University and Wake Forest University to participate in our program.”

Dr. Raimist and I will be equal partners moving forward as Elon in LA rises to greater and greater heights.

— J McMerty ’00, director of the Elon in Los Angeles program

McMerty noted that it is an exciting time for the LA-based program, with several new undertakings beginning this year. The program is expanding to new classrooms and facilities in Second Home Hollywood, a collaborate workspace off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. In addition to students, alumni are welcome in the co-working space. Additionally, Elon in LA students will now reside in The Eddy, a new residential complex steps away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“Dr. Raimist and I will be equal partners moving forward as Elon in LA rises to greater and greater heights,” McMerty said.

Raimist also expressed excitement at the opportunity to join the “Elon family,” noting that her new role will allow her to be a “connector and a builder.”

“Our program is a bridge between campus and the entertainment industry, from the center of it all in Hollywood,” she said. “We’ve expanded our footprint and have many ideas to grow the program. I’m excited to bring my experience working as a writer, director and producer of documentary and scripted television to the classroom and to the program.”

She said her focus will be on academics and preparing students for post-graduation success. Through coursework, program activities and introductions to working professionals, she plans to increase the awareness of careers across the entertainment industry and prepare students for Los Angeles’ highly competitive marketplace.

Raimist is already a familiar face with Elon students and alumni. Here she speaks with an Elon contingent while visiting the Elon Los Angeles House.

“Increasing our professional development opportunities, project-based activities and experiential learning through coursework, alumni events, diversity initiatives and Hollywood internships will position Elon in Los Angeles to expand our network of Elon students and alumni who are succeeding across many areas of industry,” Raimist said.

“We are overjoyed to welcome Rachel to Elon and to have her help continue the success of our Elon in Los Angeles program,” said Rochelle Ford, dean of the School of Communications. “With her extensive background in diversity, equity, inclusion within the entertainment industries, she is uniquely positioned to propel our LA students, programs and offerings to another level. We are immensely proud of the growth of what we call the ‘Elon Entertainment Empire,’ and Rachel’s arrival is another step to fortify the future of Elon in LA.”

Raimist earned a B.A. and an M.F.A. in directing from the UCLA School of Film and Television and an M.A. in women’s studies and a Ph.D. in feminist studies from the University of Minnesota, where the Rachel Raimist Feminist Media Center was named in her honor in 2009.

She has previously taught at the University of Alabama, Syracuse University, New York University, Temple University and San Jose State University.

To learn more about Raimist, visit her professional website, www.rachelmakesmovies.com.

The Elon in Los Angeles program is part of the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center’s Study USA initiative, which also offers dedicated programs in New York City and Washington, D.C.