Five helmers are set to participate in the 2017-18 CBS Directors Initiative. Jennifer Derwingson, Paige Morrow Kimball, A. Laura James, Maria Burton and Kevin Berlandi will take part in the program, which gives experienced directors access to showrunners, executives, managers and agents and allow the opportunity to shadow CBS Television Network and CBS Television Studio shows throughout the year.

In its 14th year, the program helps directors develop strategic objectives aimed at cultivating meaningful relationships with industry professionals that are essential to getting hired. Read more about this year’s participants below.

“We recognize that directing episodic television is no small responsibility and in order for directors to gain the trust and confidence of a showrunner, it’s essential that they spend time on set and begin fostering those relationships,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, EVP Entertainment Diversity, Inclusion and Communications at CBS Entertainment. “The program extends far past the year of shadowing as we continue to advocate and champion the participants throughout their career and provide the same opportunity for all.”

Here are mini-bios of this year’s director class, in order of their photo above, from left:

Jennifer Derwingson, Drama Director
Derwingson is from Mt. Shasta, Calif. and earned a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She directed several award-winning shorts and most recently directed her second episode of Syfy Network’s action/horror/comedy Z Nation.

Paige Morrow Kimball, Comedy Director
Kimball is from New York, N.Y. and earned a BFA in film and television from NYU. Recently, she directed six short films for HBO’s Sesame Street as well as the award-winning shorts Play Date and Ending Up. She started her career directing and producing documentaries on the Olympics and unscripted shows including Project Greenlight and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

A. Laura James, Comedy Director
James is from Placerville, Calif. and earned a BFA in acting from Southern Oregon University. She has directed episodes of Austin & Ally, Bunk’d and Bizaardvark. She started in the industry as an acting coach/dialogue coach.

Maria Burton, Drama Director
Burton is from Buffalo, N.Y. and earned a degree in theater and filmmaking from Yale University. She directed six feature films, including A Sort of Homecoming, Just Friends and Manna From Heaven. Most recently, she wrote and directed Good Eggs for Indigenous Media’s ProjectHER.

Kevin Berlandi, Drama Director
Berlandi was born in South Korea and raised in Newton, Mass. He earned his BS in marketing and advertising from Emerson College and has been directing commercials for brands including GMC, Buick, Audi, Kia, Toyota and Burger King. Last year, he was a participant in the Sony Pictures Television Directing program. In his free time, Berlandi co-chairs the Asian American Committee at the Director’s Guild of America. He is repped by Jordan Bayer at Original Artists and managed by Peter Meyer at Meyer Management.