Santa Monica College (SMC) has announced that film producer/director Frank Stiefel will be the 2017 commencement speaker.

SMC’s 87th commencement ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 13 at Corsair Field. For the eighth year in a row, the ceremony will also be webcast live and available on the SMC Alumni Association webpage ( Families and friends from all over the world who are not able to attend graduation will be able to watch the ceremony and see the graduates receive their diplomas.

About 675 of the more than 3,750 students who have earned degrees and certificates are expected to take part in the festivities.

“We’re honored to have Frank Stiefel address our graduates,” said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. “Mr. Stiefel is an inspirational individual on many different levels: as an executive who has established a highly successful career in one of the most competitive industries; as an artist whose empathy and vision created powerful and moving documentary films; and – perhaps most significantly – as a longtime member of the Santa Monica College Foundation, giving of his time and resources to support the educational aspirations of Santa Monica College students and to make innovative faculty endeavors a reality.”

Stiefel was born in New York City. He is a product of the New York Public School system and attended the evening division of The City College of New York.

At the age of 19, he established the New York-based Stiefel & Company Inc. to represent commercial photographers. The company shifted its focus to represent commercial directors in the 1970s. By the 1980s, the company opened an office in Los Angeles and moved into the production of television commercials. During his years as an executive producer, Stiefel served on both the east and west coast boards of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. He is the only person to be elected twice to serve as the national president. Stiefel is also a two-time past chairman of the AICP Show at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 2002, he merged Stiefel & Company with the international production company RadicalMedia. Stiefel continued as executive producer and also produced a number advertising sponsored television programs.

Over the years, Stiefel produced short subject documentaries. Several have been honored at the Toronto Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and others.

In 2009, he left RadicalMedia to direct a documentary based on his mother’s life. Ingelore was honored by the International Documentary Association and the Museum Of Modern Art. The film also appeared in 30 international film festivals and was acquired by HBO.

In 2016, Stiefel completed Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405, a documentary based on the life of artist Mindy Alper. The documentary film premiered at The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center and has gone on to a very successful festival run. In April, Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405 became the only film ever to win both the Audience and Critics prize at the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Festival.

Stiefel served on the Santa Monica College Foundation Board from 1998-2016. He was President for six years.

Through the Alumni webpage, SMC graduates will also be able to watch videos and read and post comments. Graduates and SMC friends are encouraged to visit and “like” the Alumni Association’s Facebook fan page (, as well as upload their graduation photos. They can also tag their pictures to Flickr or Twitter with #proudtobesmc to have them published on the Alumni website.

After the ceremonies, the SMC Alumni Association will host a reception on the Quad, with free hors d’oeuvres, beverages, and photo booths where pictures will be taken and uploaded to the SMC Alumni website. A compilation video will be available on the Alumni website about a week after graduation. For more information on SMC’s 87th commencement ceremony, visit

  • Submitted by Grace Smith, SMC Public Information Officer