lafayette, louisiana, usa

Confirmed Speakers

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser (LOUISIANA, USA)

Billy Nungesser joins us today as the 54th Lieutenant Governor of the state of Louisiana. He was elected in 2015 and began his term in January of 2016.

Prior to his election as Lt. Governor, Billy was elected as the Plaquemines Parish President – he would serve for two terms, from 2006 until 2014.  

On April 20, 2010, Plaquemines Parish became Ground Zero for the nation’s biggest environmental disaster.  In the wake the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf, Billy became the voice of Louisiana’s frustration.

Today Billy is second in command in the executive branch and Louisiana’s ambassador as Commissioner of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. From natural disasters to promoting our great state….Billy Nungesser is a man for all of Louisiana.


Halley Phillips, Director of Digital Marketing, BRB Digital (alabama, USA)

Halley Phillips knows radio & music. It’s in her blood. From the time she was born in Memphis, she often visited stations owned by her grandfather, Sam Phillips. Fifteen years ago, her father Jerry and uncle Knox gave her the opportunity to work at the family owned stations in Florence, Alabama. While her career began as the receptionist at Big River Broadcasting, she soon advanced to sales assistant, account executive, production assistant, and event coordinator. Today, Halley is the Director of Digital Marketing; additionally, she co-produces the monthly Muscle Shoals to Music Row ‘live’ show stream as well as weekly artist interviews for the stations online video blog. She is also a staff producer and partner at Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, Vice President of the Board of the Memphis Chapter of the
Recording Academy, & serves on the board of The Muscle Shoals Music

CARMEN GLORIA LARENAS, Artistic Director, Teatro del Lago & Manager, Journalist & Ballet Dancer (chile)

Carmen Gloria Larenas is the Artistic Director of Teatro del Lago in Frutillar, Chile.  She joined Teatro del Lago in 2009 as the Artistic and Communications Manager and was part of the team that prepared the opening of the Theater.  She implemented the Ballet School for the Arts Education Program of the Theater, Casa Richter School of Arts, in association with the Royal Academy of Dance (London), to professionalize ballet education in the region and the country and developed the International Academy Teatro del Lago, a music project that invites young musicians and singers who seek to strengthen their training and artistic experience with first rate conductors. Larenas has also developed art festivals and social programs, including "Puedes Cantar” for children, young people and adults, to develop themselves singing, as well as Opera projects as “Rapto en el Serrallo” and “Magic Flute”.
She was distinguished as one of the Women Leaders of Chile in 2017.

Al Bell, Former Chairman & Owner, Stax Records / Former President, Motown Records Group/ Chairman & CEO, Al Bell Presents (USA)

Al Bell is the former Chairman and Owner of Stax Records, where he was responsible for the careers of numerous music icons and the overall direction of American soul music and subsequently served as President of Motown Records Group.
Today, Mr. Bell is the Chairman and CEO of Al Bell Presents, LLC., presenting a unique new paradigm of business innovation within the greater music industry.
Mr. Bell has received numerous honours; including the Grammy Trustees Award, as well as being inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, to name just a few. 

Joel Robideaux, Mayor-President, Lafayette, Louisiana (usA)

Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux took office in January of 2016 to fulfill his promise of “working together” with Lafayette’s leaders and citizens to address the needs of the Parish. In 2017, he fulfilled his commitment to a fiscally-responsible budget by championing a rededication of existing revenue for CREATE, recognizing the value of arts and culture to our economy. As a veteran member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, then-Representative Robideaux served as Chairman to the important posts of the House Ways & Means Committee and the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay. Mayor-President Robideaux grew up in Lafayette where he and his wife Bobette raised their three boys—Dylan, Brennan, and Luke. As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he has owned and operated a successful accounting firm in Lafayette, serving individuals, families and businesses since 1996.

Sharon Yazowski, Executive Director, Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation (usA)

As Executive Director of the national Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, Sharon Yazowski provides visionary leadership in fulfilling the Foundation’s mission of building community through music. She is the organization’s chief spokesperson, traveling across the country to share the impact of Levitt programs and creative placemaking. As Levitt is a pioneer in the creative placemaking movement, Sharon is often an invited speaker at regional and national conferences. Her passionate commitment to the arts as a vehicle for positive change in communities has guided the strategic growth of Levitt programs nationwide. Prior, Sharon was the founding Executive Director of Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles at MacArthur Park. Her work there and the venue’s impact in the community earned her the recognition of “Los Angeles Park Hero” by the City of Los Angeles. Sharon’s career began working with arts nonprofits in metropolitan Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University.

laura Simpson, ceo and co-founder, side door (canada)

Laura Simpson is the CEO and co-founder (along with artist, Dan Mangan) of Side Door, a new Canadian startup with the mission to create greater value and opportunities for performing artists by facilitating shows in houses and other alternative venues. The online platform matches artists and hosts based on preferences, then books and tickets shows. Side Door’s mission is to give audiences instant access to intimate and unique events happening in their own neighborhoods, hosted by passionate community curators. Laura has hosted for seven years at her own home, The Syrup Factory, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She believes experiencing amazing live art in intimate community settings leads to stronger human connection, greater empathy and improved mental health.

Greg DeShields, Executive Director, PHLDiversity, Philadelphia Visitors & Convention Bureau (pennsylvania, USA)

Greg DeShields, CHO, CHE currently serves as the Executive Director at bPHLDiversity a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tourism and Hospitality. Greg is a Graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with an A.S. Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management; and B.S. Degree in Hospitality Management. Greg’s Board memberships include: Center City Proprietors Association, Center City District, COMHAR Inc., Greater Philadelphia Hispanic, African-American Foundation, Asian-American, Independence Business Alliance, Boy Scouts of American Cradle of Liberty, Philadelphia OIC and SKAL Philadelphia.

TARA HERNANDEZ, PRESIDENT, JCH Properties+ (Louisiana, usA)

JCH is a real estate investment, consulting and development company that specializes in delivering urban lifestyle experiences through the conversion of underutilized real estate into “cool”, creative spaces. The company develops multi-family, commercial and special-use projects, including artist-focused developments in New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana.
Ms. Hernandez is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge MA with a Master of Science Degree in Real Estate Development and a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in Finance. She holds leadership positions on several not for profit boards, including Immediate Past Chair of Greater New Orleans, Inc (GNO,Inc.), Treasurer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation, and Secretary-Treasurer of the PORT of New Orleans. She is Past Chair of the 2016 Urban Land Institute's (ULI) National Hines Competition Jury, and a Former Trustee of ULI.

Joey Stuckey, official music ambassador, Macon Georgia (usA)

Joey Stuckey is an award-winning blind guitarist, songwriter, singer, composer, producer, radio and television personality, music columnist, educator and sound engineer. He is also the official music ambassador for his home town of Macon Georgia.

Joey has experienced national success through his music with the launch of 'Mixture,' which reached #9 on the CMJ Top 40 Jazz Charts for North America.

Joey is currently involved with students, instructing them on guitar, voice, music theory, and sound engineering. He is the professor of Music Technology at Mercer University and an official mentor for the Recording Connections School in Los Angeles. 

Adriana KertzeR, design entrepreneur, attorney, digital product manager, and author (New York, USA)

A leading expert on the use of references to the Brazilian slums in the branding of luxury items, Adriana is the author of Favelization: The Imaginary Brazil in Contemporary Film, Fashion, and Design. She is currently working on a new book, Rebranding Pot, about the changing aesthetics of the marijuana industry.

Adriana worked for the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor to the Senior Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Prior to that, she was a Curatorial Assistant & Digital Strategist at the Museum of Arts and Design,  Curatorial Fellow at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, and Acting Assistant General Counsel at the Guggenheim Museum. Prior to her life as a design entrepreneur, Adriana was a corporate lawyer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, focused on Brazilian IPOs.



Storm Gloor is an associate professor in the Music and Entertainment Industry Studies department of the College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado Denver. He is the recipient of the university’s 2018 Excellence In Teaching award.  In 2014, professor Gloor developed a Music Cities course, which he has continued to teach, along with music marketing and internship courses. As part of the First Year Experience program at CU Denver, he teaches a course on the Beatles. Professor Gloor is also a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Faculty Development, is the current president of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association, and serves as a city councilman for Glendale, Colorado. He has presented at numerous events and programs, including, South By Southwest Music, the Future of Music Summit, the Underground Music Showcase, the Denver Music Summit, and an EdMedia world conference.

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John Sommerlad, Director of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and Director of Business and Community, Tamworth Regional Council (New South Wales, Australia)

John Sommerlad is the Director of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which is considered Australia’s largest music festival and was ranked by Forbes as Number 8 in its list of the World’s Coolest Music Festivals.
In his director’s role John also oversees the production of the Country Music Awards of Australia – the Golden Guitars, and Australia’s longest running country music talent search – Star Maker.
He is also responsible for events, tourism, economic development, art galleries, libraries, museums, youth centres, community centres, entertainment venues, community volunteering and Australia’s Olympic Stadium of horse sports.
An award-winning journalist, editor and corporate business manager, John was previously chair of the Country Music Festival Stakeholders Group and developed a suite of publishing initiatives to promote Tamworth as Australia’s Country Music Capital.
John was also instrumental in establishing the Sister Cities relationship between Tamworth and Nashville, Tennessee - a relationship which continues to build and prosper.

Margaret M. Lioi, cEO, Chamber Music America (new york, usA)

Margaret M. Lioi has been Chamber Music America’s CEO for the past 18 years. In her tenure, CMA has expanded its grant making, increased its endowment funds, implemented new professional development programs, and brought a
greater awareness of the many styles of chamber music to new and diverse audiences throughout the country. She began her career as a professional pianist, and previously
served as Director of Development for Spoleto Festival U.S.A., Executive Director of The Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, and Senior Director of External Affairs at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. She holds a Masters in Piano
Performance from the New England Conservatory and an MBA in Arts Administration
from Binghamton University/SUNY. She is a member of the Advisory Board of The Sphinx Organization and University of Michigan’s M-Prize, and a member of the Board of The Performing Arts Alliance.

Nolfris “Slim KuttaR” Williams, Musician, music executive & former pro basketball player (louisiana, usA)

Music has always been a major factor in the life of American entertainer and music executive, Nolfris “Slim KuttaR” Williams. He comes from a long line of talented singers and entertainers with a family that includes the late, great Paul Williams of the Temptations. His grandfather, James, was a five-octave singer with the Ensley Jubilees, a popular gospel quartet in the 1950s and beyond.
 Born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in New Orleans, Slim KuttaR developed an eclectic range of musical tastes from the hard driving vocal styling of the gospel quartet to the syncopated rhythms of the second line. He draws upon this influence in both his own music, and his very formidable work behind the scenes with other artists.
 Slim KuttaR earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in History from Green Mountain College.  He also played professional basketball in North America and Europe.

Clara Barbera, Director for Student Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion at the Valencia campus, Berklee (Spain)

Prior to joining Berklee in 2011, Clara was a professional classical and contemporary dancer with both English National Ballet (Soloist) and Rambert Dance Company, and a freelance choreographer and producer.
In her current role at Berklee as Director for Student Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion at the Valencia campus, she coordinates and supervises many support structures and resources, as well as the design, implementation and evaluation of development opportunities for all Valencia students that enrich their overall student experience by engaging them to critically think about themselves as potential agents for change within the music industry and beyond. In this role, she has also established strong bonds with local, national and international partners dedicated to using music for the improvement of society. As cochair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee at the Valencia campus, she also works to provide a nurturing environment at the Valencia campus where all community members can thrive.

ABED HATHOT, co-Founder, Palestine Music Expo (Palestine/USA)

Abed Hathot is a music entrepreneur, composer, and Arabic music expert. He started his music career as founder and guitarist of Khalas Arabic Rock Orchestra, winner of the MetalHammer & Orange Golden Gods Award for Best Global Metal Band. Abed’s music production work includes composition for television and film, and he has written music for movie trailers, documentaries, corporate films, and commercials. Abed co-founded The Palestine Music Expo (PMX), where he brings international music industry leaders to Palestine, and connects Palestinian artists with international music industry executives, including major record labels and internationally acclaimed festivals. Abed is also founder of Levantine Music Group, a music publishing company that promotes artists from the MENA region in the US. 
Through these different initiatives, Abed seeks to create business opportunities for musicians and music professionals from the MENA region around the world.

Anya Burgess, Owner, Sola Violins & Performer, Bonsoir Catin & the Magnolia sisters (Louisiana, USA)

Anya Burgess is a trained violin maker and owns a full-service violin shop in downtown Lafayette, Sola Violins.  She plays the fiddle professionally with two Grammy-nominated Cajun bands, Bonsoir Catin and the Magnolia Sisters. Originally from Boston, Anya moved to south Louisiana 18 years ago with the Teach For America program.  She stayed to immerse herself more deeply in the local music culture and soon opened a fiddle and violin repair business, servicing the needs of local string players.  Anya's shop downtown is a hub for musicians of many styles of music, from students in school programs and orchestras to musicians touring the world.  Come visit Sola Violins just across the street from the convention venue!

cary clarke, Executive DirectoR, Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington (Oregon, usA)

Clarke has served since 2013 as the Executive Director of Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington, the region’s cornerstone arts education nonprofit, which serves over 70,000 students a year. In his time at Young Audiences, Clarke has launched several innovative music education programs, including a sound engineering training program for teens, and a rock-band-in-residence partnership with a local high school. Prior to joining Young Audiences, Clarke was the Arts & Culture Policy Director for the City of Portland in the office of Mayor Sam Adams. In that post, he was the liaison to the city’s artists and arts organizations. He oversaw major initiatives including the creation of a dedicated public fund for music and arts education and access, and the launch of an equity initiative to ensure that the full diversity of Portlanders receive the benefits of the arts in their communities. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Clarke moved to Portland in 2002 and immersed himself in Portland’s thriving music community, whilst recording and touring nationally with his band At Dusk until 2009.

Kelly Wells, Executive Director, KDHX (Missouri, usA)

Kelly Wells is a sixteen year veteran of using engagement strategies and education to build community relationships in the music industry and public media. Kelly speaks, writes, and consults in the areas of music education and community engagement and explores the connections that create discovery and build community. She served as Chief Engagement Officer and Folk School Director at KDHX Community Media in St Louis rom 2012-2016 and is currently serving as DHX Executive Director. Kelly is the co-Founder of the St. Louis Folk & Roots Fest and the Green Strum Project.  She also performs nationally with her musical duo, The Aching Hearts.

Dr. Liana valente, National Federation of Music Clubs Representative to the United Nations Department of Public Information & Classical Voice Area Coordinator, Howard University (Washington dc, usA)

Liana is Classical Voice Area Coordinator at Howard University and a professional singer specializing in the performance of new music. While previous conference presentations have focused on music performance topics, her research now focuses on quality of life issues for our ageing population. In November she presented a paper at the 7th Annual Ageing and Society Research Network Interdisciplinary Conference entitled, Quantifying the Abstract: Is There a Correlation Between Participating in Fine Arts Activities and Improved Quality of Life?
For six years Liana directed the SAI People-to-People Project which provides material assistance to musicians and organizations throughout the world.  She oversaw fundraising efforts, worked with music store owners, and collaborated with shipping companies and NGOs to send materials to Haiti, India, Zambia and Canada as well as cities throughout the US. She now serves as the National Federation of Music Clubs Representative to the United Nations Department of Public Information.

Johnathan Peter Williams, Founder/CEO, Quality of Life Services & Founder/President, Love of People Non-profit (LOUISIANA, usA)

Johnathan has worked as a nurse in Acadiana for 15 years. The foundation his parents Pamella and Paul Williams provided, prepared him for a life of service. His relationship to friend and mentor Marcelle Citron inspired him to create a system using his private company to improve the quality of life for numerous people in Acadiana and surrounding areas.
The system created through Love of People in 2017 is the Blue Monday Mission which provides Life Care Services to ageing/retired artists and musicians in Acadiana and people who
serve them. Johnathan's goal is to continue engaging local community and business efforts in providing for those who have created our Acadiana culture, our musicians and artists.
In a short period of time, John Williams has attained a couple notable commendations: 2018
ICON Award Honoree for Leadership in Creative Economy and he is also the Director of Community
Service for Rotary Club of Lafayette.

Alyssa Kelley, Project Manager, Artspace Projects, Inc. (Minnesota, usA)

Alyssa is a project manager with Artspace Projects, Inc., a national nonprofit developer whose mission is to create, foster, and preserve sustainable, affordable, and safe spaces for artists, their families, and arts organizations. Having developed over 40 projects since it was established in 1979, Artspace has become the nation’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts. Alyssa has worked on historic preservation and new construction projects in Memphis, Chicago, Hastings, Minnesota, and Silver Spring, Maryland.

Alyssa is passionate about affordable housing and the roles of culture, the arts, and history in community development, economic development, and the built environment (and the link among them all), especially in cities blighted by post-industrial economic decline.

Austin Barrow, PRESIDENT, MAD/Murphy Arts District, El Dorado Festivals & Events (ARKANSAS, USA)

Austin Barrow is a native of El Dorado, AR.  He attended Louisiana Tech University, School of Performing Arts, where he received his Bachelor of Arts, followed by a graduate degree, a Master of Fine Arts in Drama from the University of Arkansas.  Austin has performed on stage and screen in Chicago and Los Angeles.  He taught theatre at the University of Arkansas and Andrew College, where he served as the Chairman of the Fine Art Division.  He returned to El Dorado in 2011 to lead El Dorado Festivals & Events with an initiative to enhance the regions quality of life through the lens of arts & culture. This mission resulted in the creation and recent opening of MAD, the Murphy Arts District. The district includes an outdoor amphitheater, farm-to-table restaurant, music hall and two acre children’s playscape.

Sung cho, Founder & CEO, (california, USA)

Founder and CEO of, a data analytics company dedicated to serve the music industry, by solving the complex problem by tracking a large amount of data and meeting the industry needs around playlists.

Most recently he worked on Sales Cloud as Principal Product Manager at Oracle Corporation. Prior to that, he was first employee/engineer at Gamevil (KQ:063080, Market Cap: $400MM), where he initiated mobile game development and eventually positioned the company as a leading mobile game developer. Graduated with a bachelor’s degree of electrical engineering and computer science from Seoul National University, and an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Beth Arroyo Utterback

Beth Arroyo Utterback, general manager, wwoz-fm (new orleans, usa)

Beth is the General Manager of WWOZ-FM, New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage station which reaches over 2 million people yearly through OZ's various media platforms. Beth leads 20 staff members and over 150 active volunteers to provide service to the station's local and global fan base.  She serves as Executive Producer of WWOZ's acclaimed New Orleans Tricentennial Music Moments documentary project, a series of over 100 radio/video mini-documentaries celebrating the musical history and culture of the city. Under her leadership, WWOZ was named 2017 STATION OF THE YEAR by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters and won several Press Club of New Orleans awards and other honors.
For 35 years, Beth held various executive positions at WYES-TV, New Orleans' premiere PBS station. She served as Executive Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer of the station where she oversaw the programming, local and national productions, promotion and outreach for the station. 

Matt McArthur, founding Executive Director, The Record Company, BOSTON (massachusetts, usa)

Matt McArthur is the founding Executive Director of The Record Company (TRC), a non-profit music incubator on a mission to build a sustainable, equitable music scene in Boston.  Originally from Tucson, AZ, Matt moved to Boston in 2007 where he completed a Bachelor’s of Music from Berklee College of Music and developed an appreciation for the city’s diverse creative landscape.  Recognizing a need for affordable music workspace and with a desire to catalyze Boston’s creative capital for the benefit of all artists Matt founded TRC and has since grown the organization to operate a 5,000 square foot recording facility providing more than 1,300 affordable recording sessions serving more than 3,500 Boston musicians annually.  The organization is now in the process of a major expansion of its space and programs.  To stay sane, Matt maintains a very personal connection to his work through his own songwriting.

Kate Durio, CREATE Lafayette & Assistant to the Mayor-President, Lafayette, (Louisiana USA)

Kate Durio is an Assistant to Mayor-President, Joel Robideaux in Lafayette, Louisiana for the CREATE Initiative announced in 2017. CREATE representing Culture, Recreation, Entertainment, Arts, Tourism, Economy, is a comprehensive strategy to infuse creativity and cultural innovation into all city-parish efforts. In addition to CREATE, Kate works with the Mayor-President to improve downtown, smart city efforts and public spaces. Her program, Creativity Everywhere, won the Award of Excellence from the International Downtown Association and the Louisiana Cultural District of the year in 2014. Kate is on several boards and also co-founded ReCover Acadiana to tackle beautification and blight projects through collaboration or rogue action. She enjoys working to empower local neighborhoods; because she believes we should all do what we can, where we can, starting on our own block. Kate is an award-winning investigative journalist and has worked in Portland, Oregon and Lafayette.

Herman Fuselier, music and entertainment writer, the Daily Advertiser and Times of Acadiana & Host of Zydeco Stomp on KRVS 88.7FM (Louisiana, USA)

Herman Fuselier is the music and entertainment writer for the Daily Advertiser and Times of Acadiana in Lafayette, La. As a freelance writer, Fuselier has contributed features to Offbeat Magazine of New Orleans, Oxford American, Living Blues and other national publications.
He is the host of the “Zydeco Stomp” radio show, a mix of zydeco, blues and old-school R&B, which airs from noon to 3 p.m. Central Saturdays on KRVS 88.7 FM and
A native of Opelousas, La., Fuselier is the author of “Ghosts of Good Times,” a book on south Louisiana dancehalls, done with photographer Philip Gould. Fuselier has been interviewed for cultural stories done by NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and more.

Kath Davies, Economic Resilience Project Manager (Creative Economy), Kirklees Council (UK)

Kath Davies has been described as a story teller, door opener and bridge builder. She explores places and identity to generate ideas, partnerships and creative solutions. Since 1998, Kath has worked as a cultural development specialist and independent practitioner with experience ranging from creative and community action and health and wellbeing to visitor economy. From 2007 onwards, Kath has gone onto lead Local Government teams across cultural and creative economy strategy and policy, engagement and audience development, project and events management. Kath is also a qualified coach and values a collaborative leadership style. She is highly skilled in creative and systems thinking to support innovation, vision and ambition whilst also ensuring approaches are grounded in people and place. Currently, Kath is working with partners to create the conditions for music to grow and thrive in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, building towards a year of music in 2023.

David Dudley, executive editor, CityLab (New York, USA)

David Dudley is currently the executive editor of CityLab, Atlantic Media's digital publication that covers urban issues. He previously served as features editor of AARP The Magazine, editor-in-chief of Urbanite magazine, and music editor of the Baltimore City Paper. He's also the co-creator of 1814! The Rock Opera, which has been formally endorsed by several historians as the world's greatest rock opera about the War of the 1812. 

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Sherri McConnell,Assistant to the Secretary for Special Projects & Public Policy,Louisiana economic development (louisiana, usa)

As Assistant to the Secretary for Special Projects & Public Policy at Louisiana Economic Development, Sherri McConnell developed policy that treats creative industries as a true economic development initiative. Prior to that, she headed LED’S Office of Entertainment Industry Development which administers the tax incentive programs for Film, Music, Digital Media and Live Performance. Sherri’s recent efforts to craft law that focuses on content creators and their intellectual property value stream are the first in the country and have caused organizations to design strategies for creative industry development.
McConnell served as President of the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, where she led the effort to partner with LEH on Culture Up, a New Orleans incubator for creative entrepreneurs. Sherri is a proud recipient of the Sweet Arts Award for contributions that helped shape New Orleans’ Arts and Culture community. 

Mike Henry, CEO, Paragon (Colorado, usA)

Mike Henry is CEO of media consulting firm Paragon and a 2012 Peabody Award recipient.  Mike is a media consultant with 30+ years direct experience with radio, record labels, TV, cable, satellite radio, digital media, emerging technology, media lenders and buyers.  His specialties include growing media market share, media start-ups, creating new content and media business models, social and mobile media, public media, and maximizing ROI on media properties.  Mike is also a long-time music and format specialist for Indie Rock, Triple A and News/Talk/Sports radio stations and networks. He also has a history of working for digital media start-ups, including Sony eMarker, Clip Interactive and VuHaus, which Mike co-founded and is Brand Manager of a CPB-funded video collaboration with NPR Music and leading public radio Music Discovery stations including KCRW/Los Angeles, KUTX/Austin, KTBG/Kansas City, WFUV/New York, WXPN/Philadelphia and many others.

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As co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Participation Agency, Ruthie Schulder reinvented the agency model. Bucking the trend of conventional pay-for-play opportunities in music and art, she started The Participation Agency to develop radical experiential campaigns with brands as partners—not clients. Obsessed with the idea of placemaking, Ruthie pioneered Outpost—a series of sophisticated rest stops for creatives in developing markets. With an international portfolio of clients, Ruthie’s work has helped drive multimillion-dollar campaigns for Fortune 100s, tech startups, and cities seeking innovation through experiential. Ruthie was named Inc.’s Millennial CEO Rising Star and under her leadership, The Participation Agency has won a CLIO, an Ex Award and consecutive placements on Inc.’s Fastest Growing Private Companies list. Ruthie and her cofounder are also behind “Let’s Work”, a monthly gathering for women to rethink networking and forge professional alliances, developed in partnership with the Soho House. Ruthie holds an MBA from NYU Business School.

Tim Scott, Jr, artist-in-residence, Charlotte Center City Partners (North Carolina, USA)

Tim Scott, Jr. is a musician, artist/event manager and public speaker in Charlotte, NC. Tim currently serves as artist-in-residence at Charlotte Center City Partners. He studied Jazz and Music Business at North Carolina Central University before touring with Grammy-nominated group, The Foreign Exchange. During this time, he also shared the stage with Robert Glasper, Fantasia and Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. He then began work as a production assistant for East Coast Entertainment where he produced events for the Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets and several legendary artists such as The Temptations, Michael Bolton and Steely Dan. As manager of TiMar Entertainment, Tim is responsible for providing music direction for, and connecting the best of Charlotte's local and regional talent to, the city's most notable events and institutions. In his spare time, Tim pursues youth mentoring and speaking opportunities focused on music education, development and advancement.


Yngvil Vatn Guttu, Composer and performer, Akimi (Alaska, USA)

Norwegian - born multi-award winning composer and performer Yngvil has appeared on Broadway, composed music for Asian mega channel Zee TV and been nominated for the South African Music Awards. Settling in Alaska, YNGVIL recorded Akutaq (2010) and Plan B (2011), ran a theatre company, a found object percussion group, and helped start an art center. Her album "On The Crosswalk" charted for 7 weeks in the US & Canada. Yngvil is the Executive Director of Northern Culture Exchange and founding director of Spenard JazzFest, an annual festival for new, original Alaskan music. In 2016, Yngvil co-founded AKIMI - an export office for Alaskan music. Inclusion is key for Yngvil. “I feel compelled to include people and bring them along with what I do. Working towards my own goals seems more justified when a dozen - or a thousand - people join me on the way.”


Dr. Ryan Cazares, Founder, Musical Instrument Library (Louisiana, USA)

Dr. Ryan Cazares is a Scott, Louisiana native and a 2007 graduate of UL Lafayette. He earned his doctorate of optometry from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 2011. In 2013, he founded Scott Eye Care from scratch and has now served over 11,000 patients. He is working with Musicares to provide eye exams to qualified musicians beginning in late 2018.
Dr. Cazares is the singer and guitarist for local rock band Dr. C & the Gris Gris and has been active in the local music scene since 2004. In 2017, he was awarded $7,000 in grants to start the Lafayette Community M.I.Brary, or Musical Instrument Library. In 2018, the M.I.Brary was launched through the Lafayette Public Library, and it allows library card holders to check out musical instruments.

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Enrique “Mag” Rodriguez, Program Director, Backline (Wisconsin, USA)

As the former head engineer of Milwaukee’s Magic Studios, Mag was announced in 2018 as the inaugural Program Director of Backline, a music initiative run by 88Nine Radio Millwaukee and gener8tor.
The Backline program is an initiative to educate and fund Milwaukee musicians, establish Milwaukee’s reputation as an emerging music city and help Milwaukee companies attract and retain young employees.