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.
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 empowering 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 President 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 as well as the 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.
As a proud Longy Teacher Education program alum, Monique is committed to deepening her impact as an arts and education leader by supporting the music education field through developing music teachers, and exploring processes for courageous dialogue around equity, access, belonging, collaboration, socio-cultural awareness, student ownership and musical excellence