NEC Announces New Director of Cultural Equity and Belonging

Monique van Willingh headshot

We are delighted to announce that Monique Van Willingh will join New England Conservatory as Director of Cultural Equity and Belonging on August 1, 2021.  

A musician, educator, and advocate for social justice, Monique places cultural humility and empathy at the center of her approach, and is fundamentally committed to creating and sustaining environments at the intersection of excellence and equity. She is currently the Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at Longy School of Music of Bard College, prior to which she served as Music Director of the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) Music Program and liaison to the LA Philharmonic's YOLA education team. Monique also holds the office of Vice Chair of the board of El Sistema USA, in which 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 committee.    

As NEC's inaugural Director of Cultural Equity and Belonging (CEB), Monique will lead the establishment of the Center for CEB, coordinate the development of community-wide plans and programming, build partnerships amongst NEC’s constituencies to shape, support, and advance institutional goals relative to equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and serve as a resource for students, faculty, and staff.    

"Monique brings great passion, deep experience, and dynamic vision to this new position. I am thrilled to welcome her to our NEC community, and look forward to the ways in which she will advance our collective work to ensure that NEC is a place of equity, inclusion, and excellence." 

—Andrea Kalyn, president of New England Conservatory

"I am deeply humbled and honored to join the NEC team as the Director of Cultural Equity and Belonging. It has been inspiring to get to know the leadership, staff, faculty and students, and to hear the collective hopes and commitment shared for the NEC community around belonging, equity, diversity and inclusion.

The dialogue that has occurred at NEC over the last few months, activated by students and alumni, has been compelling and moving. I am excited to work alongside all in the NEC community to continue to build brave and safe spaces of collaborative change, that are intentional, affirming and synergistic. With immense gratitude to President Kalyn and the NEC leadership team for this opportunity, I am filled with hope for the meaningful and transformative journey ahead."  

—Monique Van Willingh, incoming Director of Cultural Equity and Belonging

Originally from South Africa, Monique graduated from New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program in 2013, after which she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching Degree from Longy School of Music. Monique has also completed a Community Counselor Course through the Southern California Counseling center, which places social justice as the central lens through which to understand and support communities.

Learn more about our Cultural Equity and Belonging initiatives