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Maria Batlle

Founder, President

Dominican artist and human rights activist Maria Batlle has been working on innovative

programs and actions to achieve the inclusion of people with disabilities for over 11 years. A Harvard Project Zero Fellow, Georgetown Global Competitiveness Leadership Fellow and a guest lecturer at Yale, NYU, and Columbia, Maria’s work has been published in The New York Times, El País, Forbes, and other notable publications. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Maria realized that citizens with disabilities were more excluded than ever. She proposed to the Mayor of Santo Domingo the creation of a Department of Inclusion in the city hall, a first for the Dominican Republic. This initiative

led by Maria was an unprecedented success and the Dominican government is currently replicating it in every city. She also proposed the first Inclusion Committee at the Central Electoral Board, the institution that guarantees a democratic electoral process. As a result, the Dominican Republic recorded its most accessible elections in history in 2024. Her work

has been highlighted in the Annual Reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by the Organization of American States.

Due to her award-winning inclusive initiatives for Deaf students using music and vibrations with SubPac,

British rock band Coldplay contacted Maria and SubPac to help create the first inclusive global tour in

history in 2022. Following this, they were also contacted to work with artists Bad Bunny and


In 2023, Maria was a keynote speaker at the Cities Summit of the Americas opening event, Leaders of Change. Months later, she represented her city at the United Nations General Assembly 2023, promoting inclusion initiatives. As a result, Santo Domingo became the first

city in the Caribbean to sign the Global Pact for Accessibility.

In June 2024, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Germany's oldest organization to promote

democracy and political education, published a guide created by Maria to guarantee inclusion specifically for mayors and local governments.

David Rothenberg

Board member

David Rothenberg has written and performed on the relationship between humanity and nature for many years. He is the author of Why Birds Sing, on making music with birds, also published in England, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Germany. It was turned into a feature length BBC TV documentary. His following book, Thousand Mile Song, is on making music with whales. It was turned into a film for French television.

As a composer and jazz clarinetist, Rothenberg has sixteen CDs out under his own name, including On the Cliffs of the Heart, named one of the top ten CDs by Jazziz Magazine in 1995 and a record on ECM with Marilyn Crispell, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House. Other releases include Why Birds Sing and Whale Music. He invited many musical colleagues to join him on Whale Music Remixed, with contributions from noted electronic artists such as Scanner, DJ Spooky, Lukas Ligeti, Mira Calix, Ben Neill, and Robert Rich. 

His book, recording, and film Nightingales in Berlin, was published in April 2019. In 2020 Rothenberg released a book he has been working on for more than two decades, The Possibility of Reddish Green.

His 2020 releases include In the Wake of Memories, with Wassim Mukdad and Volker Lankow, and They Say Humans Exist, with Jacob Young and Sidiki Camara, named best jazz album of the year by Stereo+ Magazine in Norway.

Idelisa Bonnelly, 1931-2022

Board member

Idelisa Bonnelly de Calventi was a marine biologist who pioneered the study of marine sciences in the Dominican Republic and created one of the first sanctuaries for humpback whales. Dubbed the “mother of marine conservation in the Caribbean”, she dedicated her career to protecting ocean biodiversity.

Edis Sanchez

Board member

Musician, lecturer and writer, Edis Sanchez is the current General Director of Popular Participation and former National Director of Folklore of the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic. He is a researcher in the field of anthropology, a field in which he has developed studies focused on intangible cultural heritage (ICH), especially in music, musical instruments, rituality, carnival and culinary art.

With a broad and recognized professional career, he is a member of UNESCO’s Global Network of ICH Facilitators, the Dominican Society of Anthropology (SODAN) and the Institute of Caribbean Studies (INEC).

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