lafayette, louisiana, usa

Confirmed Speakers

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.

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.

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.

Jordan Lee, Program Director, WYMS 88NINE Radio Milwaukee (Wisconsin, USA)

Jordan began his DJ career in 1997, when he spent all his graduation money on a set of turntables and a mixer.  DJing has taken him all over the world, and connected him to his community in a deep and meaningful way.  As a performing artist, turned radio programmer, Jordan is focused on supporting the next generation of creatives in the city of Milwaukee and beyond.  Radio Milwaukee's mission to support local artists was what originally drew him to work in radio, and is what drives the work he does today.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

Gillian McDaniel, Senior Director of Entertainment in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport (JAMAICA)

Gillian McDaniel is the Senior Director of Entertainment in the Ministry of Culture, Gender,
Entertainment & Sport. Gillian has held several positions in government and the private sector working
in trade policy, investment promotion and creative industries including film, music and entertainment.
Gillian McDaniel as Chair of the Kingston Creative City of Music Steering Committee spearheaded the
multi-sectoral effort to have Kingston designated a UNESCO Creative City of Music in December 2015.
Kingston, Jamaica is known for its creation of six distinct genres of music: mento, ska, rocksteady, dub, reggae and dancehall.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Aneesha Marwah, Manager, Consulting & Strategic Partnerships, Artspace (Minnesota, usA)

Aneesha Marwah is a member of Artspace’s Consulting and Strategic Partnerships team in
Minneapolis, MN. She moved to Minneapolis from Chicago, Illinois where she worked for a real
estate research firm. Aneesha earned her Master of Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) with a
concentration in Economic Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 2015.

Prior to moving to Chicago, Aneesha lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for nine years where she
attended Tulane University and worked for a local politician. The position gave her valuable insight into the relationship between politics and urban planning. It also furthered her interest
in affordable housing policy and using art as a tool for economic development. She’s excited that her work at Artspace leads her to assist communities around the country create affordable spaces for artists and keep their cities creative and funky.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Pena Schmidt, music producer (Brazil)

Working in music since 1972, Pena started out as a sound technician, setting up stages, operating synthesizers, building and operating sound desks and teaching the trade. Pena moved on to setting up and managing studios, recording and producing more than 50 albums, and winning gold records on his Tinitus label, where he released 30 more independent albums.

Pena organized festivals including the first in Brazil, inaugurated and managed the Ibirapuera Auditorium for 8 years and learned about public management whilst taking care of the São Paulo Cultural Center. Pena also promoted the discussion and helped create the "São Paulo Cidade da Música" Law, which is already approved in first vote, and is awaiting the approval of the Mayor. 

Greg DeShields, Executive Director, PHLDiversity, Philadelphia Visitors & Convention Bureau (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.

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.

Warwick Sabin, Senior Director for U.S. Programs at Winrock International, Arkansas House of Representatives and is running for mayor of Little Rock in the 2018 election (arkansas, usA)

Warwick Sabin is currently serving his third term in the Arkansas House of Representatives and is running for mayor of Little Rock in the 2018 election. 
Warwick is also Senior Director for U.S. Programs at Winrock International, and before that he was the founding director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. His additional professional experience includes serving as director of development for the Clinton Foundation, as well as working on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and at Foreign Affairs magazine. He is a Marshall Scholar and a Truman Scholar, and he holds an M.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and a B.A. (summa cum laude) in Political Science from University of Arkansas, where he graduated as valedictorian and was president of the student body. He received the University of Arkansas Young Alumni Award in 2005 and was named to the Arkansas Business "40 Under 40" in 2003.

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.

Austin Barrow, 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.

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.

Sari Delmar, Program Director, For Those Who Tour, The Participation Agency (new york, USA)

Sari Delmar founded music marketing agency AB Co. in 2009. The agency became a trusted partner to clients such as GooglePlay, Universal Music Group, Live Nation, among others. Recognizing her rise, ProfitGuide listed her in its Top Rising Stars list, the Globe & Mail profiled her in its pages, and she was asked to join the advisory council for the City of Toronto.  In 2016 Delmar moved to the US, bringing her talents to bear at the Concord Music in LA and then subsequently relocating to NY for a stint at experiential agency MKG, before assuming her current position as Program Director of For Those Who Tour for The Participation Agency–an award-winning experiential and placemaking team. At the PA, Delmar leads brand partnerships and the groundbreaking Outpost/Basecamp program which has flipped influencer marketing on its head, seen significant economic impact for the cities involved, all while providing artists beautiful spaces to stay while touring. The program has garnered media attention from the likes of AdWeek, Fast Company, Forbes, among others.