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Originally from South Africa, Monique Van Willingh is a musician, educator and advocate for social justice through teacher training and creating spaces of belonging, with cultural humility as the central approach. In her position as Director of Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at Longy School of Music of Bard College, Monique supports the Longy mission of preparing students to make a difference in the world. She oversees Longy’s one-year music education credential program in Los Angeles, that focuses on music pedagogy, performance, and social justice.

A graduate of the Sistema Fellows Program at the New England Conservatory of Music in 2013, Monique explored the Venezuelan El Sistema music for social change program model. She then completed the Master of Arts in Teaching Degree at Longy School of Music of Bard College situated at the Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) after-school youth program site.

Returning to the HOLA family as Music Director just over a year later. Monique was dedicated to inspiring and activating students to become outstanding musicians and leaders in the community through a focus on developing student voice. The HOLA Music Program served over 275 youth and it was Monique’s greatest joy to lead this program as Director for 2.5 years.

Monique serves as the Vice Chair of the El Sistema USA national board. In this capacity, she co-leads the ESUSA Equity-centered Pedagogy Working Group, recently co-led ESUSA’s 5-year strategic planning process and serves on the Racial Diversity and Cultural Understanding and Fundraising committees.

Monique has also completed the Community Counselor Course through the Southern California Counseling center, which places social justice as the central lens through which to understand and support communities through trauma.

As the Longy MAT Program Director and a proud MAT alum, Monique is committed to deepening her impact as an arts education leader by training music teachers, curriculum building, strategic visioning, and developing frameworks for educational transformation. She is a “bridge-builder” and is passionate about exploring courageous dialogue that is at the intersection of equity, access, belonging, collaboration, socio-cultural awareness, student ownership and musical excellence.

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