Making Music Together: Immigration, Culture and Social Entrepreneurship

January 11, 2017


What:              Panel Discussion – Making Music Together: Immigration, Culture and Social Entrepreneurship
When:             Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 11:00am
Where:           Lutgert Hall, Room #1201, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd S, Fort Myers, FL 33965

January 10, 2017, Fort Myers, FL: The Gulf Coast Symphony is partnering with the Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Institute for Entrepreneurship to present a panel discussion, “Making Music Together: Immigration, Culture and Social Entrepreneurship,” on Saturday, January 14 at 11:00am at Lutgert Hall, Room 1201, on the campus of FGCU. The panel moderator is Dan Bevarly, FGCU Adjunct Professor, and panelists include Rosendo Chendy Leon, Percussionist, Sultans of String; Renata Ribeiro, Gulf Coast Symphony Musician; Sister Maureen Kelleher, Immigration Attorney with Legal Aid of Collier County; Sonia Messaoudi, Program Director, Hult Prize Competition for the Institute for Entrepreneurship; and Dr. Sandra Kauanui, Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship. Admission is free, however a ticket is required. Visit to make a reservation or reserve at the door the day of the panel.

This panel will explore the motivating factors behind immigration. Rosendo Chendy Leon will discuss why members of Sultans of String music group immigrated to Canada in pursuit of a career in music. Gulf Coast Symphony viola player, Renata Ribeiro, will discuss her immigration from Brazil and its challenges and how music drove her to the United States. Sonia Messaoudi will discuss the recent success of the Hult Prize Competition at FGCU’s Institute for Entrepreneurship  and how social change ties in with immigration. Sister Maureen Kelleher will shed light on the legal side of immigration to the United States and share the challenges that local immigrants face.

Collaborating with the Gulf Coast Symphony and Florida Gulf Coast University for the panel is The Friends of the Land of Opportunity Fund, a new program coordinated by several volunteers of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation who are concerned with the scarcity of legal and other educational services to immigrants in the five-county region. The fund is promoting two initiatives; El Camino is an innovative information app providing local legal assistance and instructional services to immigrant residents; and Immigration Legal Services is a pilot program to increase personal legal assistance to immigrants throughout the region. The long range goal of The Land of Opportunity Fund is to provide a dedicated source of revenue to area nonprofits serving our immigration community. For more information, visit

This panel discussion is part of two Gulf Coast Symphony initiatives: 20 Days of Music, and FUSION. Through 20 Days of Music, the Symphony offers more than 20 free arts activities throughout Southwest Florida between January 14 and February 26. For a complete schedule, visit FUSION is a new series that brings together alternative music, alternative venues, food, drink, and community. FUSION is the next step in furthering the Gulf Coast Symphony’s mission to unite the community through music. FUSION launches with performances and workshops by Sultans of String, who are bringing their genre-hopping passport of Celtic reels, flamenco, Gypsy-jazz, Arabic, Cuban and South Asian rhythms to Southwest Florida. Sultans of String perform a FUSION concert at 8PM on January 14 at the Historic Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs. Concert admission is $15, and tickets can be purchased at the door, or reserved at


The Gulf Coast Symphony, led by Founder and Music Director Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz, is one of the most innovative and dynamic orchestras in the United States, and is the fourth largest performing arts organization in Southwest Florida. Now in its 22nd season, the Gulf Coast Symphony is the largest community orchestra in the country in terms of number of programs and budget size. The Symphony season features its highly popular Symphonic Pops Series, Classical Access Concerts, Holiday Concert, and Family Concerts, all held at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. A free outdoor concert as part of Taste of the Cape is also part of the season. Look for Gulf Coast Symphony ensemble performances, outreach, and educational programs throughout Southwest Florida. For more information, call the Gulf Coast Symphony office at 239-277-1700, visit, or email us at


The Florida Gulf Coast University Institute for Entrepreneurship provides students with genuine support and a strong foundation of knowledge from which to pursue entrepreneurial aspirations. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of FGCU faculty, student graduates, and a variety of community partners in Southwest Florida. The Institute for Entrepreneurship strives to create camaraderie between these groups, and emphasize the need for an entrepreneurial spirit between FGCU and its constituents.

Small, entrepreneurial businesses are the backbone of Florida’s economy. Accordingly, we believe it is crucial to impart the following skills to future generations of entrepreneurs: how to identify and evaluate a business opportunity, write a winning business plan to successfully exploit an opportunity, identify and acquire resources (including financing), and build a new venture into an enduring company.


Founded in 2009 by Hult International Business School graduate Ahmad Ashkar, the Hult Prize has become the world’s largest student competition and open innovation platform for social good. Each year, in partnership with President Bill Clinton and Hult International Business School, the Hult Prize challenges students around the world to develop innovative social enterprises that can transform lives. The goal? To tackle the world’s most pressing global issues, from poverty to affordable housing. Winners receive USD 1 million in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from international business leaders to help launch their ideas. Local campus, city and in-country competitions are held each fall, followed by regional semi-final contests held in the spring at Hult International Business School campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai, culminating in a final competition and awards ceremony held in New York during the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting. Regional event winners are also invited to join the summer Hult Prize Incubator Program hosted by the Hult International Business School in Boston, MA. The Hult Prize is made possible through the support of the Hult family.


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