Our Team

A dynamic team tackling one of the world's largest global crises. Presented on this page are members of the IOR's task force.

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Founder and Director


Creative Director & Photographer



Senior Designer | Brand Identity Developer


International Orchestra of Refugees Board of Directors

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Sebastian V. Agignoae

Sebastian Agignoae is the visionary and founder behind the International Orchestra of Refugees (IOR), holding steadfast to using music as a strong ambassador of peace. Sebastian focuses his practices primarily on generating sustainable opportunities for refugees and migrants to prosper.

Before the IOR, Sebastian attended Loyola University Chicago, pursuing studies in biochemistry and music. Much of his research was through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute studying congenital human disorders, and Northwestern Medicine studying advanced directives and the power of attorney in outpatient clinics. Alongside his off-site research programs, Sebastian devised a research thesis, LUX, with Loyola’s Department of Physics exploring spectrum frequency analysis and STEM, ultimately creating a live, multimedia light display for an orchestra.

Sebastian frequently plays piano in various venues in Chicago, and is an avid competitive sailboat racer. He is a candidate for the Master’s Degree in Public Policy at Harvard University for the class of 2021.

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Michelle Lieb

Michelle Lieb serves as a strategic and leadership development consultant, in addition to serving on the Global Leadership Advisory Board for Willow Crystal Lake and as an advocate at Refuge for Women, assisting women in moving beyond human trafficking.

Previously Mrs. Lieb was the Chief Human Resource Officer and Board Member at Pepper Construction Group where she worked extensively with the Executive Team and Board of Directors. Critical areas of responsibility included the design and oversight of the strategic plan, 401k, benefits, compensation, talent management and compensation for the more than 1,000-employee, $1 billion company. Before joining Pepper in 1999, she was in management with Renaissance hotels.

Mrs. Lieb has her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Georgia and a Master’s of Science in Human Resources from Loyola University.

Mrs. Lieb is active in raising funds for, as well as creating and facilitating, leadership programs for people in Africa, particularly in Zambia. She recently worked directly with a network of leaders in Samfya to build their team and individual leadership skills, which is fostering a grassroots movement toward community infrastructure.

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Anthony Molinaro

Anthony Molinaro is the 1997 winner of the prestigious Naumburg International Piano Competition and one of the most versatile pianists of his generation. Acclaimed for his "edge-of-the-seat brilliance" and "musically imaginative mind," Mr. Molinaro has appeared as soloist with over fifty symphony orchestras, headlined at major jazz clubs throughout the world, and composed and arranged music in both the classical and jazz genres. He has released five albums and has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Downbeat magazine and in the 2010 book, The New Face of Jazz. He is an Associate Professor and the Director of Music at Loyola University Chicago and was recently awarded The Edwin T. and Vivijeanne F. Sujack Award for Teaching Excellence, “the very highest honor that the Loyola University College of Arts and Sciences bestows for the very best in teaching and research.

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Denese Neu, Ph.D

Denese Neu is a multidisciplinary social scientist and planner specializing in cross-cutting systems infrastructure to address human needs. She holds a PhD from the University of New Orleans and is currently employed by a research institute in Washington, DC as an Engagement Officer.

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Maureen Straub Kordesh

During law school, Maureen Straub Kordesh was a member of the Indiana Law Journal. After graduation, she represented the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services. In 1991, she joined the faculty at Widener University School of Law, where she directed the writing program and taught legal writing, property, and land-use planning. One of her articles, published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, was a finalist for best land use planning article of 1996.

She has led workshops on drafting for HUD housing discrimination investigators and has written articles and made numerous presentations to legal professionals on the practical and pedagogical issues of legal writing, lawyering skills, and the bar exam. She has made presentations on pedagogy to law schools internationally, and has designed Street-Law style curricula for elementary and junior-high students.

Professor Kordesh is a former president of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and board member of the Legal Writing Institute. She has served as an assistant editor for the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute and a reviewer for the Multistate Performance Test.

Professor Kordesh joined the John Marshall faculty in 1996 and directed the Lawyering Skills Program from 1996-2004. In 2008, she became director of the the special admissions program at John Marshall, the Summer College for Assessing Legal Education Skills (SCALES). She teaches Lawyering Skills and Property.

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Karen Abuzayd

Karen Koning AbuZayd currently serves as a Commissioner of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, informing the United Nations on the refugee problems arising out the current conflict in the Middle East. She began her humanitarian career in Sudan in 1981, dealing with Ugandan, Chadian and Ethiopian refugees fleeing from war and famine in their own countries. From 1991 to 1993, Ms. AbuZayd directed the South African repatriation operation and the Kenyan-Somali cross-border operation. She was Chief of Mission for two years during the Bosnian war, where four million war-affected people were kept alive by UN’s airlift and convoy activities. From 2005 until 2010, she was under the Secretary General as UNRWA Commissioner General. Based in Gaza, she helped to oversee the education, health, social services and microenterprise programs for four million Palestinian refugees. Ms. Abuzayd was appointed U.N. Special Adviser on the Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants held on September 19, 2016.

Before joining the UNHCR, Ms. AbuZayd lectured in political science and Islamic studies at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and at Juba University in southern Sudan. She earned her B.Sc. at DePauw University in Indiana and her M.A. in Islamic Studies at McGill University in Canada.

Special Thanks

Our initiative would not be where it is today without the generous help from our friends and colleagues who have donated their time and efforts to make the International Orchestra of Refugees the best it can be.


IOR Correspondent

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Copy Editor & Music Ambassador