Mar 21, 2023
Our Lady of Staten Island
Planet Poet-Words in Space – NEW PODCAST! LISTEN to my WIOX show (originally aired March 14th, 2023) featuring two remarkable guests: visionary humanitarian, musician and poet *Elissa Montanti* and writer, producer and director *Michael McKinley*, both here to discuss their documentary “Our Lady of Staten Island” which focuses in great part on Elissa’s work helping African children with Albinism, victims of mutilation, get needed protheses. For more information on the documentary and to view the trailer go to: www.ourladystatenisland.com. Michael will also discuss his book project Meta War and his recent travels to Iraq and Syria.
*Elissa Montanti*, visionary founder and executive director of the Staten Island-based Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF), has brought more than 500 children of 57 countries to the U.S. for treatment, including surgery, limb prosthetics and other medical necessities. Injured children come from countries or regions able to offer only minimal medical care, poorly fitted prostheses, or none at all.
Elissa’s appearance on “60 Minutes” and her book *“I’ll Stand By You” One Woman’s Mission to Heal the Children of the World*” (written with Jennifer Haupt, Penguin Books, 2012) have helped spread the word about this remarkable woman and her work. The New York Times and The Washington Post, among many print venues, have heralded her extraordinary work. Elissa was featured in “CNN Heroes,” BBC World News, “Democracy Now” WorldVision Radio, and Voice of America. People Magazine voted their story “the Saint of Staten Island”, as one of the five best stories of the year. Elissa received Amnesty International ‘s Modern Day Saints Award and recognition from the Humanitarian Operating center in Kuwait for her bravery and humanitarian work in Iraq and the Shriners Humanitarian Award. “To Walk Without Fear”, a documentary produced by Miracle Mile Films and sponsored by the UN Correspondence Association and the Prince of Jordan, premiered at the United Nations on November 16, 2006.
Elissa lives in Staten Island with her adopted son Ahmed who was blinded and lost his arm at 7 years old in Iraq while walking into crossfire. Elissa’s passions also include music, poetry and painting. Her poetry has won recognition from the American Poetry Society.
*Michael McKinley*’s first novel, *The Penalty Killing*, was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award as best debut crime novel. His subsequent page-turners include, among others, international bestseller *Facetime *and *Willie: The Game Changing Story of the NHL's First Black Player, *nominated for an NAACP Image Award as best biography and one of the top twenty books of 2021. Michael‘s writing credits include the screenplay for the 1992 feature film *Impolite*, starring Christopher Plummer; a number of Discovery Channel docu-drama series including *Perfect Disasters*, *Solar Storm* and *I Shouldn’t Be Alive*. He wrote and produced award-winning films for CNN on the Vatican and on biblical archaeology in the Middle East, and *The Jesus Strand* for History TV. His most recent show is the 2021 three-part documentary series *Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell*, which he co-created and Executive Produced for Peacock and SKY UK. Michael traveled to Iraq and Syria for projects with US Special Forces operators and Syrian Democratic Forces. Michael, educated at Oxford University, lives in New York City. He is currently directing, writing and producing, with Nancy Bell and Alice Barrett Mitchell, *Our Lady of Staten Island.*