Transformative Impact on the Path to Peace:
Since 2000, Russ has been the CEO of Hostelling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit with more than 50 hostels nationwide and a purpose to create a more tolerant world. HI USA is the largest and leading brand of hostels in the US and is consistently recognized for excellence as an accommodation provider and achievements in sustainability. During his tenure, Russ led the successful 3-year merger of 26 HI USA Councils and its headquarters into one, unified organization. With a new organizational structure and consolidated assets in place, Russ leads a $50 million organization in fulfilling the HI USA mission. Russ has been a featured speaker at national and international conferences on topics ranging from experiential education to nonprofit management. Currently, Russ serves on the following Boards: United Nations World Tourism Organization Affiliate Board - Hostelling International (HI) seat, US Travel Association - At Large seat, World Youth & Student Educational Travel Confederation - At Large seat, and the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
Netanya Trimboli is the Director of Communications and PR for Hostelling International USA (HI USA), leveraging influencers, partnerships, and special events to grow awareness of the brand and its purpose to create a more tolerant. With nearly 15 years of marketing experience, primarily in nonprofits, Netanya is skilled at building needle-moving campaigns, from hosting an event at the White House to beating out hundreds of applicants for a quarter million dollar sustainability grant. The #PeacePostcard campaign is her latest endeavor, which has been shared across the globe and endorsed by the UN World Tourism Organization. For the past 6 years, she’s led HI USA’s communications department, finding creative ways to engage and mobilize its millennial audience.
John A. McKenna
John McKenna is a public affairs specialist in the mass media and nonprofit space. He is founder of KENNASCOPE, a consulting company operating at the intersection of content creation and social impact, launching MusicUnits which introduces, develops and promotes music therapy programs within healthcare and wellness centers. Recently appointed Executive Director of Operation Respect, he will lead innovative efforts to promote peace-building and conflict-resolution through creative forms of expression, including music. He has served as Executive Director of the Playing For Change Foundation where he developed Instruments of Change - The Official Alliance in the Playing For Change Movement, securing over 30 partnerships including a multi-year agreement with UNICEF announced at the United Nations on the International Day of Peace. Mr. McKenna has served as adviser for the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma and the Advisory Board of Sanctuary of Hope, a groundbreaking project providing essential programs for youth emancipated from foster care. Additionally, he leads volunteer and fund-raising efforts in support of the Divine Mercy Orphanage in Tecate, Mexico. A graduate of UCLA, he was a member of the Political Science Honor Society and reported on world affairs for the Daily Bruin.
Dr. Iyabo Ojikutu
Dr Iyabo Ojikutu is a board certified pediatrician and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She currently runs her practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives with her two daughters. In 2015, her writing journey began after her father passed, producing her first book, 'Permanent Happiness'. A second book is set to be published titled 'Our True Colors', and she’s currently working on a third. As an avid blogger, she regularly writes and inspires readers through the 'Peace Place' on her website. She has twice been a speaker at the United Nations, first, in September 2017 during the General Assembly at the SDG Media Zone, she spoke about happiness and peace, as related to Sustainable Development Goal 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Most recently she spoke at the ECOSOC Youth Forum, where she was on a panel discussing bridging across generations and helping young people reach their full potential.
At the age of three, Amy Lott began learning music on an old upright piano just a few blocks from where the father of country music, Jimmie Rodgers, used to write his timeless music. However, Amy was in her thirties before she was able to set her own truth down on piano and pen. For the first couple of decades of her life, Amy was forced to dedicate her soul and mind to overcoming severe epilepsy and proxysmal dystonia. However daily seizures and entire body spasms did not stop her from attending college, majoring in music, and performing principal clarinet in many orchestras and symphonies in the southeast United States. Her heart was filled with music, and the power of that passion overcame the betrayal her mind and body perpetrated against her.
Amy eventually expanded her musical skills beyond the academia and classical training as a member of Dollar Book Floyd, an avant garde ensemble out of Hattiesburg Mississippi. There she discovered the outer limits of her talent and passion, and embarked on her first experiences with touring, recording and improvising. Since that spark, her songwriting, musical performances, and experience with a disability has taken her around the world playing and singing. Her music is unique but familiar, anchored in classical tradition, beaming with Mississippi spirit, and littered with broken triplets on many of the musical instruments she controls with grace and fire (piano, harmonica, clarinet, flute, and accordion). Amy’s music is as compelling as her story. Pure joy, daily struggle, and relentless hope are the soil from which her stories grow. The result is music that sounds like what it is supposed to: individual, universal and healing.
Transformative Impact on the Path to Peace:
Monica Singh is a philanthropist and international social activist working to prevent Violence Against Women. Her major work is to inspire and motivate women around the world and enhance their capabilities. She is a Youth Ambassador of UN Women. She has been a speaker at the United Nations representing “Face of Resilience from India - United States of America”. She has a Fashion Design degree from NIFT, New Delhi, and a degree in Fashion Marketing from Parsons School of Design, New York. She is a founder and president of Mahendra Singh Foundation and uses her story as a motivational tool to counsel others. Her recent ongoing project #Takethepowerback it is out on social media platforms, breaking the cycle of pain in women’s lives by bringing positive moments and sharing them with the world. She is constantly redefining survivorship and the meaning of it. Her focus is on showing the strong side of women as well as providing underprivileged girls and women the skills to work in the fashion industry.
Eric has been involved in non-violence advocacy and activism for 10 years. At the age of 15, he began training with the University of Rochester to facilitate workshops on suicide prevention, while also working with his local police department and the Mayor's Office to organize his community's Stop the Violence Summer Camp. He started working on gender based violence specifically, in high school, as Chairman for the White Ribbon Campaign, with his twin brother - Anthony. After discovering a passion for gender equity and no-violence work, McGriff continued to build his capacity by training and mobilizing through organizations such as A Men's Issue, Mentors in Violence Prevention, the Mobilize Academy, as a Give1 Fellow, through It's On Us, Vera House, Inc., and others. He has served as an educator working with youth (ages 7-18) providing multi-day programming about gender-based violence prevention, and would then mobilize and empower youth to become leaders for anti-violence work. Now 25, Eric has had the honor of being invited to the Obama White House (multiple times) in recognition of his work to rethink manhood and masculinity, and stand against gender inequity. He has presented on strategies for Engaging Men and Boys for the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, and has traveled around the world (working within UN Networks) to promote gender equity and non-violence. He and his twin brother also recently won a National American Advertising Award in the Public Services Announcement Category, for a spoken piece they wrote and performed titled To Be A Man, where they call for the redefining of mainstream ideas of manhood and masculinity. He works with 8 NYC colleges and universities to offer training and education to students and staff, assistance developing and implementing policy and protocol related to preventing and responding to sexual and relationship violence, and support in mobilizing students and staff through events and campaign efforts. Eric is a #HeForShe and a member of the United States National Committee for UN Women, and serves on coalitions and task forces that work with law enforcement, politicians, and local NGO's to address issues related to gender equity and gender based violence.
Ryan Gall is a producer and creative activist specializing in content, events and initiatives that integrate pop culture and social activism. He is a co-founder of the social action platform, GlobalCitizen.org and the annual Global Citizen Festival which he executive produces. He is currently working to build out the Global Citizen TV and Film division. Ryan is also co-founder and board member of the HOPE Campaign.
Mohamed Fadel is the president of AIESEC in the United States, and is the former Chief Information Officer for AIESEC. AIESEC is the world’s largest youth-run non-profit organization, and works with more than 25,000 students in 127 countries. As a global player in the promotion of youth leadership and youth engagement, AIESEC delivers worldwide programming that ensures that young people are equipped to be leaders in their communities, their nations, and their world.
Siamak Sam Loni
Siamak Sam Loni is the manager of Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth (SDSN) Youth, and coordinates a variety of activities within the SDSN, including their Student Program, and the Youth Solutions Community. Sam works within the SDSN as a youth advocate and is also a leading member of SDSN’s new Financing for Sustainable Development initiative – Move Humanity, where he helps coordinate efforts to mobilize global funding and resources to close the SDG financing gap. Previously, Siamak worked at the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), one of the leading interdisciplinary research and education institutes for sustainable development around the globe. He has served as an advisor to several prominent working groups, including the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group, Harvard Social Venture Challenge, Commonwealth Science Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO) National Outlook Project and the Australian government’s innovationXchange program. He is also a contributor to the Huffington Post (US) and News24, covering issues such as human rights, peace & security, sustainable development and international law and was recently recognised as a young peacebuilder by the Nobel Peace Prize Forum for his work.
Mónica Ábrego is one of Mexico’s most outstanding sopranos. She has performed in stages around the world with a diverse repertoire which includes opera, lied, oratorio, folk and popular music. Ms. Ábrego has performed with many orchestras such as Colorado, Iowa, San Diego, Key West, Delaware, La Jolla, Aguascalientes, Lucca Chamber orchestra, OBC and Bulgaria symphony orchestras; as well as with the Chihuahua Philharmonic Orchestra with whom she toured Mexico and the USA. Her passion for music has given her the opportunity to proudly perform traditional Mexican music alongside Champaña Nevin Mariachi, around the world.Soprano Mónica Ábrego has a Bachelor of Music degree by the Manhattan School of Music. She has been awarded by the USA National Association of Teachers of Singing (1998), La Jolla Symphony & Chorus in California (1997-1998), RYLA Rotary International Club (1998), Mexico’s National Fund for Culture and Arts (1999-2002) and the Musical Merit Foundation of San Diego (1998-2002). She currently lives in New York City where she continues to develop professionally.
Baja musical arts initiative
Baja Musical Arts Initiative (BMAI) was founded in 2012 as a nonprofit based in New York City, whose mission is to improve the lives of children and young adults in New York City and Mexico through musical education and performances. Inspired on its parent program in Mexico - Redes 2025 (Networks 2025), BMAI has now created Redes USA in New York City to provide intensive programming, free-of-cost, to young people as a strategy to transform their lives instilling values such as team work, responsibility, discipline and respect.
BMAI has always looked up to initiatives, who have paved the way in the musical education field and media scope. PFCF has been a prominent example of such labor. It is a great joy and hope that we join efforts in this educational, community, social and musical movement.
From fan, to touring musician to music executive to brand strategist, Drew Young has seen the music industry from all sides. Everything in his career has been based on this love of music. Drew cut his teeth in the heyday of the Athens, GA music scene where he fronted his own all-original band, Ruben Kincaid. 4 recordings, 10 years and tens of thousands of miles logged on the road all led to a deep understanding of the life of a working musician and of the music industry from a grass roots level. Drew then proceeded work as a solo artist, and producer. Drew released 5 full-length solo records and has been producing and writing for other artists. Currently, Drew has completed two full-length projects that will be released March 2019. Along the way Drew Young has been hard at work on the business side of the entertainment world. His consultancy business has allowed him to work closely with some of the leaders of the creative industry.