About Us

Foreword from our Founder

A global citizen with a passion for music, a multicultural background and life-long international experience, for whom culture has no borders. Having served for the European Union in different postings for more than 20 years, including in the EU Mission to the United Nations in New York, and having dealt with some of the most challenging world conflicts with global impact, I have witnessed the limitations of traditional diplomacy. Today’s major challenges can only be addressed through the mobilization and cooperation across diverse stakeholders toward shared goals. I am convinced that by uniting our voices by this citizen-led cultural peace initiative, we will make a significant contribution to spreading the culture of respect for diversity, mutual understanding, acceptance and dialogue through the universal language of music and the arts, making our world a better place for all of us.

Looking forward to hearing YOUR VOICES.

Veronica Sabbag – Founder

Veronica Sabbag is a global citizen committed to multicultural and international best practices. She holds a Degree in Law from the University of La Sorbonne, a Masters Degree in European Studies from l’Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and a Certificate on Cultural Diplomacy from the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy ICD). She served for the European Union in different positions for over 20 years, forging her experience in conflict management, defence 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 citizen-led cultural peace initiative promoting diverse forms of inter-cultural exchanges, Veronica has facilitated the realisation of collaborative artistic projects advocating for diversity, tolerance, acceptance, inclusion and dialogue. Some of her most successful projects in this context are : the “Global Women In Music 4 Human Rights” empowering women in the music sector, “Together in Solidarity” and “Dance or Die : From Syria to New York” echoing the voice of syrian dancer and refugee, Ahmad Joudeh, raising awareness on the humanitarian crisis in Syria at local,regional and international level.

Tim Ries – Board Member -NY

Saxophonist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator Tim Ries received degrees from both The University of North Texas (BM) and The University of Michigan (MM). He has had a unique and varied career, which began in 1983 with the great Maynard Ferguson. Tim moved to New York City in 1985 and since that time his performing and recording credits include a who’s who of jazz, rock, pop and world music icons: The Rolling Stones from 1999 to the present, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Donald Fagen, Michael Jackson, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Rod Stewart, Lyle Lovett, and jazz greats Red Garland, Donald Byrd, Hank Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Phil Woods, Tom Harrell, Chico Hamilton, Michael Brecker, Joe Henderson, Tony Bennett, Louie Bellson, Dave Liebman, Al Foster, John Patitucci, Danilo Perez, Bela Szakcsi Lakatos and Maria Schneider. Tim was a member of the Prism Saxophone Quartet from 1993-2003. He has released 9 CDs as a leader. His last two discs, Tim Ries Quintet and Tim Ries Quintet Vol II, are live performances at Smalls Jazz Club. In 2005 and 2008 respectively, he released The Rolling Stones Project (Concord) and Stones World (Sunnyside), both are his versions of Stones classics arranged in jazz and world music genres. Both CDs have drawn rave reviews across the globe. Some of the guest artists featured on these discs include: all four Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, Milton Nascimento, Sara Baras, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Lisa Fischer, Bernard Fowler, Larry Goldings, Franck Amsallem, Eddie Palmieri, Brian Blade and Ana Moura. His latest collaborations are performing with the great flamenco dancer Sara Baras and with The East Gipsy Band from Budapest. Tim has taught saxophone and composition at The New School, Rutgers University, The City University of New York and The University of Toronto.

Tim Ries plays Francois Louis mouthpieces, reeds and ligatures and The Virtuoso tenor and alto saxophones by RS Berkely

Obie Benz – Board Member -NY

Obie Benz created a number of charitable organizations to support social justice causes. In 1971 he started the Vanguard Foundation, which made grants to San Francisco activist groups and helped found the Film Fund to support documentary filmmakers. In 1975 he organized Pacific Alliance, which produced benefit rock concerts for anti-nuclear power and American Indian treaty rights organizations with the help of Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, and Graham Nash. In the 80’s he began making documentaries. Americas in Transition challenged US foreign policy in Latin America and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1981, as well as winning numerous prizes. He made two anti-weapons music videos which John Denver used as a backdrop in concert performances. In the late 80’s he produced and directed Heavy Petting, a comedy about teen sexuality which played theatrically in 75 cities and sold every major foreign market. In the 1995 he produced and directed In My Generation, a history about rock and roll in the 60’s, which became the best selling part of the Warner Bros / Time Life series. In the 90’s Amnesty International hired Benz to make many short films about people and organizations supporting human rights issues. He also produced a DVD for V-Day, an organization created by Eve Ensler, the writer of the Vagina Monologues, to oppose violence against women.

Mr Benz has been featured in articles and books about progressive philanthropy, as he was a key organizer in the 70’s of groups encouraging people with inherited money to make charitable contributions. He was an editor and contributor to the book Robin Hood Was Right, which suggested ways people could support community organizing and other activist projects. He is currently writing a memoir.

Priscilla Lee – Board Member -NY

Priscilla Lee is a product development professional, with experience from concept to consumer in the infant industry.  Priscilla was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and from her family upbringing, has always been fascinated with how diverse the world is, and how to improve it for future generations.  Priscilla now calls Brooklyn, NY home, but takes every opportunity to travel with her family abroad to expose her children to different cultures. Priscilla has a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from the University of California at Davis, and a Master of Science in Hotel and Tourism Management from New York University.

Dena O’Connor – Board Member -NY

Dena O’Connor, International Strategies Director for Turkey’s Maya Foundation, brings to her work a passion for children’s rights and extensive international experience. She has lived and worked in seven countries; the last 13 years in Turkey. Dena witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of the loss of human rights in her research and work with the Family Members of the Disappeared in Chile, which was the beginning of her pathway to focusing on vulnerable populations as a result of conflict. In her native USA, she provided services for newly immigrated children in the Massachusetts State System.

In Istanbul, she has written curriculum, provided project-based learning, project event management and educational consulting for a variety of private clients. This work brought her in contact with some of Turkey’s most influential families. She spent two years working with refugee children from all over the world in informal education settings. She did market research for investment in the Mercosur Countries (Southern Common Market) for the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development of International Commerce and connected state businesses and cultural entities with potential international partners while also working as an official translator. She received an MA in International Relations from the University of Nottingham in England and a BA in International Relations and Latin American Studies from Wheaton College (Massachusetts, USA).

When Syrian refugees began arriving in Turkey she focused on supporting children, youth, and families fleeing war. She is honored to be part of Maya Foundation’s dynamic team and to contribute her international educational experience and project management skills to its mission of helping traumatized populations through mental health and psychosocial services, including the Trauma Informed Schools Program in Turkish public schools as well as services to promote social cohesion between host and refugee communities. Dena works on development for the organization managing relations with individual donors, partnerships with non-Turkish organizations and organizing events and finding opportunities for new collaborations. An avid art lover who has helped children learn and grow through the arts for many years, she is particularly excited that creative art therapeutic interventions are key to Maya’s work and manages artist collaboration and cultural outreach for the organization. This focus led to exhibitions of the children’s art throughout Europe, including in London and Brussels.  Drawing from her political science studies, she also implemented an international advocacy program for Maya’s work built around conferences or panels in the United States and Turkey as well as in Brussels at the European Parliament.

Carlos Navarro – Board Member -NY

Carlos Navarro has worked for more than 20 years for international organizations and notably, the European Union and the United Nations, as a legal contract and procurement senior officer.
In 2014, he took the courageous step to dedicate his life to egg tempera painting, writing and promoting art and culture as means to build bridges and universal growth.
He has actively contributed to convert Newburgh, in the Hudson Valley, into a cultural and artistic hub. He is presently embarked in a new venture : opening an art gallery, the AGC gallery, in Newburgh to further facilitate artistic exchanges and build peace through art.

Eric Melloul – Board MemberBrussels

Eric Melloul is a world traveller that manages investments in beverages and consumer products of the Verlinvest group, and serves as board member or observer of several portfolio companies. Eric worked for Citibank corporate finance in NY and London and spent over 5 years as an Associate Partner with McKinsey & Co leading the consumer practice and advising leading food and beverages in Europe, US and the Middle East. In 2004, he joined Inbev as VP strategy overseeing M&A and global brands before assuming responsibility for marketing and commercial operations in China in 2005. Eric holds a MBA/MPA from Harvard University and BSC from the London School of Economics.

Silvia Cambra – Board Member -Brussels

Silvia Cambra comes from a family of musicians from multicultural music traditions. Through music, she had the opportunity to discover the world and its different people. She has acquired a first hand understanding of the power of music as a bridge between different cultures. Silvia has worked for over 20 years in Marketing and Communication for a number of multinational companies. Currently, she is involved in the development of innovative educative programmes and mainly based in Barcelona. Silvia holds a DAA, Award of Achievement in Digital analytics, from the University of British Columbia and teaches in various international universities.

We count on the precious collaboration of a network of Partner Organizations in New York, Washington, Amsterdam, Bakou, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Oslo, Rome, Amman, Beirut, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Moscow and Nairobi.

We count on the precious collaboration of a network of Partner Organizations all over the world!