Building a Better Future and Inspiring Progress Toward Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through Music and the Arts  

The session is an opportunity to motivate civil society to take action on some of the world’s most pressing problems by sharing inspiring stories of impact, progress, and action through various forms of arts. Speakers and performers from across the globe will share how they use their art form to create awareness, convey their messages, and inspire communities to act. 

Date: 30 March 2023
Time: 11 am-1 pm 
Location: Conference Room 6



Opening Remarks, Hawa Diallo, Chief Civil Society Unit, Department of Global Communications (DGC)

Hawa Diallo, Chief of the Civil Society Unit at the Civil Society and Advocacy Section, UN Department of Global Communications has extensive United Nations experience in public information outreach and fostering civil society partnerships, with a particular emphasis on youth and women’s organizations. Ms. Diallo began her United Nations career in 1987 in the Department of Public Information and has served in two United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Cambodia and Somalia, respectively. She has also worked for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) in Nairobi, as an Associate Human Settlements Officer and as a Partners and Youth Officer.





Rani Persaud performing the Rudrashtakam in Kathak repertoire 

Rani Persaud is 11 years old. She lives in Queens with her mom, dad and two older brothers. She is in 5th grade at OLPH Catholic Academy. She’s a youth at Bhuvaneshwar mandir.
Rani has been doing  bharatnatyam dance (prayer through dance)for over two years and kathak for about 5 months under the guidance of Davina Singh. Rani also plays the harmonium and keyboard singing bhajans & bollywood songs. She’s a student of Manik Malhotra at Sa re ga ma Desi Beats. She is a host and participant on Abee Chunes Radio kids corner Program on Saturdays. She participated with Bhuvaneshwar mandir in singing the very first time Kala Utsav came in the US in 2019.








Moderator, Gail Davvis-Carter, Co-Founder, ListenGive Initiative & The Creators 2030 SDGs, Arts, Youth & Global Citizen Initiative










Joanna Sherman, Artistic Director, Bond Street Theatre

Joanna Sherman is co-founder and Artistic Director of Bond Street Theatre. As director, musician and actor, she has conducted Theatre for Social Justice projects in 60+ countries.  The company collaborates with local organizations, using theatre as a means to bring critical information to communities, with a focus on refugees, women, and youth. Ms. Sherman received a 2014 Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women, the 2015 Otto Award for Political Theatre, and 2018 Public Service Award from Cooper Union School of Fine Arts and inducted into their Hall of Fame. She served as Cultural Envoy in Myanmar and India. Under her directorship, the company received a MacArthur Award for its intercultural programming.  She has been a speaker on the role of the arts in peacebuilding at the United Nations, National Council on Women, US Institute of Peace, the Smithsonian, numerous universities, and was Keynote Speaker at the UN Youth Assembly. Ms. Sherman has a BFA in Art & Architecture from Cooper Union, and an MA in Theatre & International Studies from New York University. Notable projects include:  Formed and trained the first all-female theatre groups in Afghanistan,  conducted arts programs in 4 Afghan women’s prisons, and initiated youth-led projects for rule of law with support from the US Embassy and US Institute of Peace. She worked In Myanmar on human rights campaigns with Thukhuma Khayeethe, devised programs against domestic violence in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, provided theatre training for Rohingya and Somali refugees in Malaysia, and conducted women’s rights programs in Egypt, South Sudan and South Africa.  




Moses (Buddha Blaze) Mbasu, Hip-Hop Activist




Therese Folkes Plair, Co-Chair, Institute for Development of Education, Arts and Leisure

Therese Folkes Plair, Singer, Storyteller, Arts Educator Graduate, Sarah Lawrence College, attended Yale University School of Drama.  Pioneered Arts Education with 12 artists in the County of Westchester and has developed programs in core curriculum grades K-12. Mental Health OutPatient Facilities, Early Childhood,  Children's Hospitals, Elder Centers, in Universities and more  in the US, Africa, and Europe since 1985.  Therese was a visiting artist for the United States State Department in 2001 traveling to 8 countries using music and storytelling as an instrument to communicate, disseminate information and educate about HIV/AIDS and Domestic Violence.  She began her field work in Women's Oral Traditions in Ghana, WA in 1990 and continued to study and volunteer until 2000.  Therese Represents a Canadian  ECOSOC NGO, the Institute for the Development of Education, Arts and Leisure. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the NGO Committee on Children's Rights, NY.






Rolf Stahlhofen, Artist, Germany (Pop)

Raised in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Algeria, Stahlhofen made a name for himself in the German music scene. His career started as a tour manager with artists including Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Guns n Roses, Prince and Madonna. At the beginning of the 90’s, he picked up the microphone himself. First in the "RTL Samstag Nacht Band", later with the "Söhnen Mannheims". In 2001 they were on stage as part of the "Rock against violence Festival Tour". He was among the initiators with famous german music icon, Udo Lindenberg. Even before the Water Is Right was founded in 2011, Stahlhofen campaigned for the human right to water. In 2002 he organized a benefit concert for the flood victims in East Germany, which gave rise to the association “Menschen am Fluss” (=People on the river) and organized benefit’s for the world's poorest people. In 2005 at the opening of the SAP arena in  Mannheim, Stahlhofen put together an All-Star band. That evening, he accompanied artist friends such as Roachford,  Peter Maffay, Sasha, Laith Al Deen and Silbermond and received the  "Sold Out Award". In order to spread the message that water is a human right internationally, Rolf Stahlhofen built up a cultural network in addition to the Water is Right Foundation which does public education at events such as the World Water Day (Cape Town). Therefore, the strength and specialty of the WIR foundation lies in the emotionalization of the subject of the human right water and sanitation. It does this through the power of music and of the artists who, in addition to Stahlhofen, are committed to the foundation goals of Water Is Right. In addition, the foundation enters into partnerships with companies that have developed high-performance technologies in the field of water, which can help achieve the ultimate goals of the foundation. For his commitment, Rolf Stahlhofen was appointed “Messenger of Truth on Water” in 2007 as part of the United Nations Program for Human Settlements (UN-HABITAT for short). To date, WIR has implemented 12 projects in 10 countries around the world: For millions of people, this means access to clean and affordable drinking water.




Karen Yelverton, Poem by Angelic Kreations, "Beautiful Queens"

Angelic Kreations is a passionate empowerment mission inspired by Ms. Karen Yelverton's belief in a positive future for people from all walks of life, specializing in our elders and youth. She has honed her skills as a persuasive public speaker, poet, actress, educator, philanthropist and has won the top 40 Awards at Eastern Michigan University, where she received both her Bachelors and her Master's Degrees.
She embodies excellence and is ever ready to learn, ready to meet the next opportunity, ready to travel, and expand her horizons. She is humble encouraging and inclusive. She brings out the hidden talents of her scholars; and dares them to speak and pursue their Visions, Dreams, and Goals! Angelic Kreations creates a safe space for scholars freely allowing their intelligence, and insight to develop and mature. As a nurturing, caring educator, who inspires loyalty and openness inside and outside the classroom, with more than 15 years of experience as a Public Speaker, Poet & Performing teaching artist. Angelic Kreations believes in supporting women globally. Angelic has published her work and the work of her scholars in a book series, “Poetry Between Sisters” available at Her audio poems & health products can also be found on her website. She currently organizes, hosts, performs & produces events globally.






Predrag Vasic, UN Orchestra Conductor

Predrag Vasić is a seasoned musician, as well as a veteran staff member of the United Nations. He began studying piano at the age of six. He began his professional musical career as a pit orchestra pianist, while still studying conducting with Živojin Zdravković at the Academy of Music of Belgrade, Serbia. His early professional experiences as a conductor were in Belgrade’s musical theatre, “Pozorište na Terazijama”, and he was at the time the youngest professional conductor in Yugoslavia. He has worked as the music director on many productions of standard Broadway musical repertoire. During his conducting career, Mr. Vasić has performed with many prominent orchestras of the region: Belgrade Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra of RTV Belgrade, Symphony Orchestra of the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia, Zagreb Philharmonic, etc. Even after leaving Belgrade to pursue a UN career, Mr. Vasić continued to collaborate with his old theatre as orchestrator and arranger. As one of the founding members, Mr. Vasić has been the President and the Music Director of the UNSRC Symphony Orchestra since its inception. Mr. Vasić is currently working at the Startegic Planning and Communications Services in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 





Veronica Sabbag, Founder and Chair of United Voices 4 Peace

Verónica Sabbag is the Founder and Chair of United Voices 4 Peace. She is also a global citizen with a multicultural background, a life-long international experience and a passion for music. She served the European Union in different positions for over 20 years, including in the EU Mission to the United Nations in New York forging her experience in conflict management, defense and security. In this context, she has dealt with some of the most challenging global conflicts. Understanding the need to resolve today’s major challenges beyond traditional diplomatic tools, she decided to found the NGO “United Voices 4 Peace” fostering a Universal Culture of Peace through Music and the Arts. With this cultural diplomacy initiative promoting diverse forms of inter-cultural exchanges, Veronica has facilitated the realization of collaborative artistic projects advocating for diversity and inclusion. Some of her most successful projects in this context are: “Global Women in Music 4 Human Rights” held in Rome in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, empowering women composers in the music sector  and “Together in Solidarity”, raising awareness on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and advancing the integration of refugees through dance.Verónica holds a Degree in Law from the University of La Sorbonne, a Master’s Degree in European Studies from l’Université Libre de Bruxelles, a Certificate on Cultural Diplomacy from the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and is a fellow of the Vital Voices VV Engage leadership program (2021 Cohort). 





Yvonne Chow, H+ The Hip Hop Dance Conservatory 

Yvonne Huatin Chow (she/her/hers) is a 1st generation, Chinese American, queer woman from the Bay Area, CA (Ohlone Land). After high school, she moved to the birthplace of Hip-Hop, NYC (Lenape Land) to immerse herself in Hip-Hop, a culture and dance form that spoke deeply to her. There she joined H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory where she has been training in Hip-Hop Dance foundations via The BLADE Dance Technique® (S. Thomas, 1995) for over a decade. She is now a choreographer, educator, and curator and currently serves as the Director of Operations and Education Director of H+. In 2015, Yvonne founded House of Chow, the Asian Division of H+ with the mission of educating, empowering, and unifying Asians in the US through Hip-Hop Dance. As a dance advocate, Yvonne is a representative of H+ at the United Nations Economic and Social Council and serves on the Steering Committee of the NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies.