Honey Al Sayed
Associate Fellow, Geneva Centre for Security Policy
Honey Al Sayed founder of Honey&, LLC is an independent Creative Consultant, producer, and coach promoting the creative and strategic use of media and the arts for socio-economic and political change, cultural dialogue, peacebuilding, and leadership development. At the core of her work, Ms. Al Sayed creates spaces for community building and enabling and managing positive change. She is also a bilingual (English, Arabic) communications professional. Organizations Ms. Al Sayed has worked with include the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, the United States Institute of Peace, the New America Foundation, Spark Media, Purpose, Internews USA, VIVA Creative, Mideast Tunes, and The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University SFS, and Radio SouriaLi.
Check out the NPR interview with Honey Al Sayed – Syria’s Civil War Raised Stakes for Radio Host
Assignment Editor – Digital Media, Middle East Broadcasting Networks
Nada Alwadi, Bahrain, is a journalist, writer and researcher. She has been working in print media since 2003 covering politics and human rights issues in Bahrain and the Middle East. She holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis on women’s political empowerment in the media. Alwadi covered the recent crackdown in Bahrain for several international media outlets including USA Today. In 2011, she was one of the recipients of the first James Lawson Award for Nonviolent Achievement by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. Alwadi also co-founded the Bahraini Press Association with other prominent Bahraini journalists; which focuses on defending local and international journalists who have been attacked or targeted by the Bahraini authorities.
Dr. James Gordon
Founder & Executive Director, Center for Mind Body Medicine
James S. Gordon, MD, a Harvard educated psychiatrist, is a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma. He is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School. Dr. Gordon served as the first Chairman of the Program Advisory Council to NIH’s Office of Alternative Medicine and as Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy under Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush.
Check out the 60 Minutes interview featuring Dr. James Gordon – The Lesson of War
Executive Director, Words Beats & Life
Mazi Mutafa is the Executive Director of Words Beats & Life, a 15 year old hip-hop non profit based in Washington, D.C. that teaches, convenes and presents Hip-Hop in The District, throughout the country and around the world. Mazi Mutafa began this organization as an after school program dedicated to creating transformative learning experiences in non-traditional classroom, teaching the elements of Hip-Hop.
Check out the 2017 Words Beats & Life Festival Recap
Ambassador Cynthia Schneider
Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Georgetown University
Cynthia P. Schneider teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world. For the Brookings Institution she leads the Arts and Culture Initiative within the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The Initiative’s activities include research, convening meetings in the U.S. and abroad and catalyzing projects, such as the Muslims on Screen and Television Initiative (MOST), which Schneider co-directs, and which provides valuable resources and accurate information on Islam and Muslims for the U.S. entertainment community. Dr. Schneider also has consulted in the area of cultural diplomacy for ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage).
Check out Ambassador Cynthia Schneider’s 2015 TEDx Talk – Extremists Get Why Culture Matters. Why Don’t We?
Aaron Shneyer is a social entrepreneur, musician, educator, and activist. He holds over 10 years of experience in nonprofit management, program direction, development, communications, and multimedia production.
Aaron grew up in the Washington, DC area in a family of musicians and activists. He is the Founder of Heartbeat, a nonprofit social enterprise using music to empower Israeli and Palestinian youth to transform conflict, which he launched in 2007 as a Fulbright Fellow. In 2005 he graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in Anthropology and immediately went to work as a program leader and dialogue facilitator with various youth empowerment and civil society peacebuilding efforts.
Check out Aaron Shneyer’s 2014 TEDx Talk – The Power of Music to Transform Conflict
Founder, Karim Wasfi Center for Creativity
Visiting Research Fellow, Geneva Centre for Security Policy
Cheif Conductor and Director, Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (2006-2016)
Mr Wasfi orchestrates global peace as cultural diplomacy overcoming instability, supports efforts of de-radicalization, prevents tension through capacity building. He empowers education efforts to prevent intimidation, boosts higher levels of awareness and consciousness and enlightenment, inspires future leaders.
His focus is on de-radicalization through the arts, creative thinking and cognitive psychology, as well as preserving the momentum towards economical partnership and development. He bridges cultural gaps by mixing diverse cultures through the arts, and prevents terror, tension and violence through music. Mr Wasfi has developed social-political modules based upon the psychology of conducting patterns, as well as youth orchestras in Iraq. He has founded new orchestral techniques for intensive development through improvisations, new healing approaches through improvisations, and a music program for orphans and the displaced. He established the I&I Scholarship Program for the Merella Ferrini School for instrumental music and opera at the Italian CUBEC Belcanto Academy of Modena.
Check out the NPR article about Karim Wasfi – Amid Violence in Baghdad, A Musician Creates A One-Man Vigil
Katherine Wood is senior arts advisor in the Center for Applied Conflict Transformation. She joined USIP with more than 25 years of experience in public diplomacy and higher education. Her areas of expertise are international cultural policy, cultural heritage, and the roles of the arts, media, education, religion, and civil society in conflict and peace. Ms. Wood authored the lead article and edited The Arts and Peacebuilding: An Emerging Approach, USIP Insights Newsletter, Summer 2015.
Check out Katherine Wood’s article in The Arts and Peacebuilding: An Emerging Approach
Contribute to a Peace and Social Justice Music Playlist
In this interview, Annie Paulson refers to research done by Dr. Oliver Sacks and others on the impact of music, in particular, on the brain. She points to the fact that most everyone can probably think of a song or piece of music that triggers within us a strong emotional response.
Share one song or piece of music from your life that triggers such a response (ideally one related to peace, justice, or positive social change). What is it about this song that produces such emotion? If possible, also post a link to the song if it is available on YouTube.
Teach Us About the Cultural Currency Where You Live
In this interview, Ambassador Cynthia Schneider argues that “messaging” produced and broadcast from an outside entity is no longer a sufficient or effective means to change or impact a society. This is because we are living in an age of social media, where so many actors, individuals and organizations have the capacity to shape the media landscape, tell stories, and influence culture. She instead emphasized the importance of figuring out the “cultural currency” of the places in which you are working and leveraging the modes, the mediums, and messages that are already there.
What is the “cultural currency” where you live or work? What forms of media carry the most influence and why? What artists or media personalities possess the kind of reach and power that can spread and instill messages of peace? What makes those people and entities so powerful?
Let Us Know What Topics and Questions You Want to Discuss
Do you have any questions or comments you would like to discuss with the performers and guest experts before, during, and after the event? If so, post those questions and comments in this forum. The moderator may choose your question as one of the prompts during the conversation at the live event. Guest and performers will also be joining this forum to address your questions and comments leading up to the event and for a few days after the event.
- “Arts and Building Peace: Affirming the Basics and Envisioning the Future.” United States Institute of Peace. January 20, 2017. Accessed April 07, 2017. https://www.usip.org/insights-newsletter/arts-and-building-peace-affirming-the-basics-and-envisioning-the-future.
- Essaid, Salim. “Fighting ISIS with music.” CNN. December 28, 2015. Accessed April 07, 2017.http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/28/middleeast/iraq-musician-karim-wasfi/.
- Mannes, Elena. “‘The Power Of Music’ To Affect The Brain.” NPR. June 01, 2011. Accessed March 29, 2017. http://www.npr.org/2011/06/01/136859090/the-power-of-music-to-affect-the-brain.
- “Rhythms at the Intersection of Peace and Conflict: The Music of Nonviolent Action.” Search for Common Ground. July 09, 2014. Accessed March 29, 2017. https://www.sfcg.org/events/cprf-june-2014/.
- Schneider, Cynthia P. “Why Culture Matters.” International Criminal Justice Today. June 21, 2016. Accessed April 07, 2017.https://www.international-criminal-justice-today.org/arguendo/why-culture-matters/.
- Shank, Michael, and Lisa Schirch. Strategic Arts-Based Peacebuilding. Technical paper. August 2009. Accessed September 2016.http://escolapau.uab.es/img/programas/musica/strategic_arts.pdf.
- Wood, Katherine. State of the Art – The Arts and Peacebuilding: An Emerging Approach. USIP Insights Newsletter. Summer 2015. Accessed February 2017. https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/Insights_Summer-2015-Arts-Peacebuilding.pdf.