Keynote Speakers

Laura Hassler

Director of Musicians Without Borders, an organization that uses the power of music to bridge divides, build community and heal wounds of war.

Born in New York and a resident of the Netherlands, Laura combined a background in civil rights and peace activism with her diverse musical network to found Musicians Without Borders in 1999, persuaded of music’s unique potential as a tool for peacebuilding and social change. With long-term projects in the Balkans, the Middle East, Eastern Africa, Central America and Europe, Musicians Without Borders is now a global leader in an increasingly recognized field. A frequently invited speaker, writer, and presenter, Laura has received multiple awards for her work from Dutch and US cultural, humanitarian and academic institutions.

Patrick Kabanda

Undercover Artist and Well-Tempered Non-Economist

Patrick Kabanda, a native of Uganda, has been passionate about music since his childhood, when he first heard the pipe organ at Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala. He was raised by his mother, a kindergarten teacher, in humble circumstances made more disruptive by the political violence that was wracking the country. After becoming a chorister at the cathedral, he found music a refuge, but also began to understand how the arts could help reconcile the conflicts that lay behind the hostilities, generate income, and improve people’s livelihoods. He learned the piano and the organ from cathedral organists in Uganda who saw his fascination, and continued to teach himself copying music scores by hand, playing by ear, composing, and practicing the art of improvisation. Later, in performances around the world, he saw how music connects with the human spirit: a Bach fugue or an African American spiritual can both move people of many different cultures.

Alfons Karabuda

Composer and President, International Music Council

Mr Alfons Karabuda is an accomplished composer with more than 30 years of experience in the music industry. He is a member of the cultural committee of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO and in 2021, was appointed by the Swedish Government as an expert for the report Restart for Culture – Recovery and Development After Corona.

Mr Karabuda has served as an expert in artistic rights to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which in 2013 included working on the first-ever UNHRC report on artistic rights.

Mr Karabuda is currently President of the International Music Council; the Internet Media Foundation and honorary president of the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance. He is Executive Chairman of the Swedish Association of Composers, Songwriters and Lyricists. In addition, he serves as a member of the executive committee of the Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM) and the Swedish Joint Committee for Artistic and Literary Professionals (KLYS). He is Chairman of Musiksverige (Music Sweden) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, the Global Node Stockholm, and the Global Music Vault.

Mary Luerhsen

Mary Luerhsen is Executive Director of the NAMM Foundation and a world leader in advocacy in music education.

The Foundation’s various signature programs – Best Communities for Music Education, President’s Innovation Awards, SupportMusic Coalition, Talking Up Music Education podcast and the Coalition on Coalitions – exemplify her focus on rallying talents and energies of people and organisations to advance opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to know the joys and benefits of making and learning music.

Her presentation will be about advocacy.


Benjamin Jorissen

Professor Jorissen is the UNESCO Chair in Arts and Culture in Education at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany). The Chair’s research aims to contribute to an understanding of the role of aesthetic, arts and cultural education in a transforming and diverse world.

His presentation to the World Conference will be about the digitisation of the arts. His fields of work include the development of an educational aesthetic and media theory, empirical research in post-digital culture including several research projects on digitalisation in arts education, as well as UNESCO-related and postcolonial perspectives.


Lorna Williams

Lil’wat Nation, British Columbia

Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams is Professor Emerita of Indigenous Education, Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Victoria and Canada Research Chair in Education and Linguistics. She has been living and breathing the Calls to Action on education and language since before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was ever imagined. She built her career on the principle that quality education for Indigenous children must be characterized by strong cultural teachings alongside a Euro-Western education.

At the University of Victoria, Dr. Williams initiated and led the development of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Indigenous Language Revitalization, and a Master’s in Counseling in Indigenous Communities. She also initiated, designed, and implemented a mandatory course in Indigenous Education for all teacher education students, leading to the requirement that all teacher education programs in British Columbia include an Indigenous Education course. She coedited with Gloria Snively a two book resource called Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science. (2016)


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