Our Story

We are Sistema Global

Sistema Global is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit seeking to connect, encourage, and inspire El Sistema teachers and leaders everywhere. Moreover, we want to tell the world about El Sistema.

In his 2009 TED Talk, the founder of El Sistema, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, cast a vision for a truly global movement that could link together the many El Sistema-inspired programs throughout the world. As the movement evolved, the community of teachers and program leaders yearned for a viable form of global interaction. They have needed a learning tools channel that would globally link interdependent programs, and would provide up-to-date information about the El Sistema model for long term public health and wellness, both physical and mental. Sistema Global is that network.

Our mission

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Our Initiatives

Internal Initiatives

  • Document Management – Articles, Repertoire, Research, Literature Review
  • Online Mentoring – Connecting mentors and mentees
  • Online Conferencing – Forums, training, webinars, videos

External Initiatives

  • Social Media – FacebookLinkedInTwitterYoutube
  • Online Mentoring – Connecting mentors and mentees
  • Online Conferencing – Forums, training, webinars, videos

Board of Directors

John Henry Dale

New World Symphony Manager of Distance Learning and Information

With nearly twenty years of experience in audio, video and IT engineering, music production, and streaming media John Henry Dale holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies (Latin America focus) from Kenyon College and a Master of Science in Digital Composition and Performance from University of Edinburgh. 

He is also an active DJ, drummer and music producer, with a passion for cutting-edge music, art and culture from around the globe. He lives and works in Miami Beach where he is currently an artist-in-residence at Art Center South Florida and the Manager for Distance Learning and IT at New World Symphony.

Dr. Gisela Flanigan

Sistema Global Executive Director

A social entrepreneur and arts advocate consultant, Dr. Gisela Flanigan is deeply committed to
social change and collective impact in the nonprofit world. 

She currently serves as Executive
Director of Sistema Global, an award-winning social change organization inspired to expand
access to music making as a basic human right. Under her leadership, Sistema Global has
been selected for three years in a row to be part of the HundrED Global Education Innovation
Collection. As an educator, she is presently a faculty member at the University of Denver Arts
and Culture Management program. As an expert in the intersection of leadership, management, and arts advocacy, Dr. Flanigan has reviewed programs and grants for organizations such as the National Endowment for the
Arts. She is regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences for organizations such as Congreso Mundial El Sistema, Virtual Concert Halls broadcast (Sound Espressivo), The Music, Business, and Peace Summit at Indiana University and the Imagine IF… Festival in
honor of Sir Ken Robinson. She is also a member of the International Music Education Policy Group (based in the UK) advancing global policy dialogue in music education. As a HundrED Academy member and Advisory Board member, she participated in the review of the HundrED Spotlight on Teachers for a Changing World in partnership with the World Bank Group.

Eduardo Méndez

Executive Director, El Sistema Venezuela (FUNDAMUSICAL)

Since taking up his current post, Méndez has steered the development of the El Sistema projects across Venezuela, with an emphasis on increased social inclusion and higher standards of performance.

He supervises major capital projects including the building of new educational facilities and performance spaces, which propels El Sistema’s nationwide network of over 400 núcleos to expand both in number and in scope. He also plays an active role in selecting, identifying, developing and promoting musical groups throughout the institution, which range from major symphony orchestras to local choirs.

One of Méndez’s key missions is to maintain the stability of El Sistema’s capital structure, as the institution employs over 12.000 staff at present. He engages in strategic and negotiations with various parties including sponsors, public and private institutions for the development of artistic and educational programmes. He also seeks to enhance El Sistema’s profile as one of the world’s most innovative social development programmes in the field of classical music, with major international tours for multiple symphony orchestras as well as other initiatives.

He graduated from the law school at Andrés Bello Catholic University in 2000, also obtained a Masters in Public Management from the Institute of Advanced Studies of Administration and Management in Caracas in 2007. Recently, he obtained the certificate of Professional Fundraising at Boston University.

Leonardo Méndez

FUNDAMUSICAL - Gerente Nacional de Programa Nuevos Integrantes, Programa Hospitalario y Educación Especial.

Leonardo is an international performer and speaker and has served as an international El Sistema embassador to assist in the creation of Sistema programs in Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, Spain, and Tokyo.

A former trumpet section member of the Orquesta Simón Bolívar and Barquisimetal Brass Quintet, Leonardo has led the Academic Program for the Venezuelan National Children Orchestra Coordinación Académica de la Orquesta Nacional Infantil. He was the founder and executive director of the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble which has performed in Carnegie Hall and Los Angeles.

Leonardo has extensive leadership experience both at the national and international level. He managed the International partnership between the El Sistema, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Inter American Development Bank, as well as being the the Academic Director for the Centro de Acción Social por la Música for 8 years. Leonardo is presently the director for the following FUNDAMUSICAL (formerly known as El Sistema) National programs: New Members (founder), Hospital (oncology department), and Special Education at the national level.

Global Advisors

Eric Booth

Eric Booth is a consultant with many U.S. arts organizations, designs conferences and training programs, is a frequent keynote speaker and considered the “father” of the teaching artist profession. 

He encountered El Sistema on a work sabbatical and has since actively promoted its spread in the U.S. and world.

Richard Hallam

Richard Hallam, a fellow Sistema England trustee with Marshall, has been involved with music education internationally for over 50 years. 

Richard is a passionate advocate for high quality music for all and was the consultant to the Department for Education when the initial Sistema-inspired programmes were established in England.

Maria Majno

Maria Majno studied music at the Milan Conservatory as well as musicology at the Milan State University. 

Her eclectic experience in the issues of music in the developmental age as essential element of learning and rehabilitation, and in the wider context of social integration, has led to her appointment in the national project “Sistema italiano delle orchestre e cori giovanili e infantili” launched by Claudio Abbado for Italy.

Marshall Marcus

Marshall Marcus has been involved with El Sistema since teaching within it in Venezuela in the 1970s. 

A musician who has performed in more than 60 countries, he is founder and chair of Sistema Europe, founder of Sistema Africa, Trustee of Sistema England, a teacher within El Sistema in Venezuela and beyond, and CEO of the European Union Youth Orchestra.

Tricia Tunstall

Writer and music educator Tricia Tunstall has spent the past five years researching El Sistema in Venezuela, in the United States and around the world.

She is a frequent international speaker and panelist on El Sistema-related subjects, focusing on the value of Sistema ideals for music educators and social change advocates.

Dalouge Smith

Since 2005, Dalouge Smith has served as President and CEO of the San Diego Youth Symphony and previously was Associate Director of Mainly Mozart San Diego.

He serves on the boards of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and Balboa Park Central. In 2007, Dalouge received the Herbert G. Klein Visionary Award for Exemplary Leadership.

Get in touch today!

If you’re keen to find out more about what we do at
Sistema Global, we’d love to hear from you