Press Release: The Wellbeing Summit for Social Change


April 4, 2022


Co-creators Ashoka, Impact Hub, Porticus, Skoll Foundation, Synergos Institute, and Georgetown University will convene experts to discuss the intersection of wellbeing and intergenerational trauma; neuroscience; spirituality and rituals; diversity, equity and inclusion; economics; and technology

BILBAO – BISCAY, SPAIN (April 4, 2022) Today, The Wellbeing Project announced its first-ever Wellbeing Summit for Social Change, a global event bringing together social change, governmental, arts and business leaders working at the intersection of individual and collective wellbeing, in Bilbao-Biscay, Spain from June 1-3, 2022. The summit represents a critical moment in driving systemic cultural change for the improved mental health and wellbeing of all changemakers. 

The three-day summit will consist of ground-breaking talks, conversations and panel discussions highlighting the connections between individual, organizational and societal wellbeing. Speakers will delve into how a deeply embedded culture of wellbeing can alter and inform our approach to driving positive systemic change.

The arts play an integral role in the development of a new language for inner wellbeing and social change and can provide a greater understanding and expression of the human experience. The summit will bring exhibits, newly commissioned works of art and a vibrant performing arts program to Bilbao. Involving more than 85 artists at 10 venues, the event offers participants and the residents of Bilbao to take an emotional and interactive journey exploring wellbeing. 

Inspiring and creative immersion labs will pair artists and speakers for deep-dives into topics that include neuroscience and wellbeing; intergenerational trauma; spirituality and rituals; diversity, equity and inclusion; business and organizational wellbeing, economics and wellbeing; and technology and wellbeing. 

“The Wellbeing Project is on a mission to initiate and bring to life a culture of inner wellbeing and Bilbao-Biscay is the perfect place to unite a global audience of changemakers, artists and activists,” said Aaron Pereira, Project Co-Lead for The Wellbeing Project. “We aim to create a profound experience and understanding of wellbeing in the context of social change leading to a personal and collective call to action.”

“This summit will represent the work of extraordinary people and institutions from over 60 countries and five continents,” added Sandrine Woitrin, Project Co-Lead of The Wellbeing Project. “Attendees and the community at large will experience innovative mechanisms to express and explore their inner selves through art and innovative thinking.”

The Wellbeing Summit chose the location in Bilbao, in the region of Biscay, because it is an international hub for art and culture. It is an example of a place in the process of deepening its transformation by focusing on a Charter of Values that centers on improving the wellbeing of its citizens and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Bilbao is pleased to host this first edition of the Wellbeing Summit for Social Change, which, I am sure, will help to set the road map for this new revolution in the making,” said Juan Mari Aburto, Mayor of Bilbao. “Over the years, Bilbao has been committed to a model of urban and human development that guarantees the possibility of realizing full and dignified life projects for all the people who live and work in this city. Our commitment to human wellbeing has become an international model that will help us to build hope for the future.”


    • Ana Claudia Quintana Arantes – Medical Doctor and Author; Geriatric/Palliative Care MD; Founder of Associação Casa do Cuidar (Brazil)
    • Rajni Bakshi – Author and a Gandhi Peace Fellow; Freelance Journalist, Author and Peace Advocate (India)
    • Briggs Bomba – Programs Director for TrustAfrica(Senegal)
    • Kate Byrne – CEO of Katapult X (USA)
    • Laura Calderon de la Barca – Collective and Intergenerational Trauma Therapist, Facilitator, Trainer and Researcher at Terapia para Mexico (Mexico)
    • Aneel Chima – Director of the Division of Health and Human Performance and of the Stanford Flourishing Project at Stanford University (USA)
    • Gary Cohen – Co-founder and President of Health Care Without Harm (USA)
    • Dr. Richard J. Davidson – Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin-Madison; Founder and Chief Visionary, Healthy Minds Innovations (USA)
    • Suparna Diwakar – Director of the Centre for Regenerative Development at Rashtram School of Public Leadership (India)
    • Peggy Dulany – Philanthropist; Chair and Founder of The Synergos Institute (USA)
    • Mallika Dutt – Activist; Social Change Leader; and Strategic Innovator (India/USA)
    • David Germano – Executive Director of the Contemplative Sciences Center of the University of Virginia (USA)
    • Sennay Ghebreab, PhD – Associate Professor of Socially-Intelligent AI, Program Director of Master Information Studies and Scientific Director of Civic-AI Lab at the University of Amsterdam (Ethiopia/Netherlands)
    • Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. – James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University (USA)
    • Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela – Research Chair in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
    • Ramsés Gómez – Director of Academia B at Sistema B International (Mexico)
    • Edgard Gouveia Jr – Architect, Ashoka Fellow; and Founder of Instituto Elos, Play the Call and LiveLab (Brazil)
    • Zarlasht Halaimzai – Writer; Director; and Co-founder at Refugee Trauma Initiative (United Kingdom)
    • Reggie Hubbard – Human Rights Activist; Yoga Teacher to US Members of Congress and Congressional Staff (USA)
    • Nadine Kaslow, PhD, ABPP – Clinical Psychologist; Professor of Psychology; and Psychologist of the Atlanta Ballet (USA)
    • Dr. Barry Kerzin – American Physician and Buddhist Monk (USA)
    • Dr. Julia Kim – Senior Advisor at the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan (Bhutan/Canada)
    • Dr. Sará King – Founder of MindHeart Consulting; Neuroscientist; Advocate; Philosopher; and Social Entrepreneur (USA)
    • Satish Kumar – Peace-pilgrim; Life-long Activist; and Former Monk, Founder of the Schumacher College (United Kingdom)
    • Rhonda Magee – Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco (USA)
    • Juan Mari Aburto – Mayor of Bilbao (Spain)
    • Katherine Milligan – Director, Collective Change Lab (Swizerland)
    • Wanja Muguongo – Founder and Executive Director of UHAI East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (Kenya)
    • Deepa Narayan – Social Scientist and Author (India/USA)
    • Wellington Nogueira – Founder of Doutores da Alegria (Brazil)
    • Cristiane Ferraz Prade – Psychologist; Music Therapist; and Co-founder of Casa do Cuidar (Brazil/United Kingdom)
    • Aaron Pereira – Project Co-Lead for The Wellbeing Project; Ashoka Fellow; and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (India/France)
    • Father Timothy Radcliffe – Priest; Author; and Honorary Oxford University Fellow (United Kingdom)
    • Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi – Director-General and Chief Imam of Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society (Great Britain)
    • Rabbi David Rosen – International Director of Interreligious Affairs of AJC, the American Jewish Committee and Director of its Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding (Israel)
    • Sharon Rosen – Search for Common Ground’s Global Director of Religious Engagement; Spiritual Coach; and Mentor (Israel, USA)
    • Zainab Salbi – Founder of Women for Women International; Women’s Rights Activist; and Writer (USA)
    • Jessamyn Shams-Lau – Senior Advisor of Capital Collaborative; Advocate for redistribution of power in philanthropy, nonprofit workforce wellbeing, and feminine leadership (Denmark)
    • Laureline Simon – Founder and Director at One Resilient Earth (Germany)
    • Shelly Tygielski – Mindfulness Teacher; Community Organizer; Philanthropist; Author; and Self-Care Activist (USA)
    • Najat Vallaud-Belkacem – France Director of The ONE Campaign; Former Minister for Women’s Rights and Government Spokesperson (France)
    • Justin Michael Williams – Author; Speaker; and Performing Artist, working at the intersection of music, meditation and equality (USA)
    • Sandrine Woitrin – Project Co-Lead of The Wellbeing Project (Belgium/Spain)


    • Grimanesa Amoros – SCIENTIA, a light sculpture encouraging moments of self-reflection and personal realization (Peru)
    • Yazmany Arboleda – Hospital Pal Alma, an outdoor installation imagining a contemplative place of healing for the soul (Colombia)
    • Miroslaw Balka – NowHereWe, an installation of bells from multiple cultures on railings in the main summit venue (Poland)
    • BBVA – Art and Spirituality: Imagining the Extraordinary, an exhibition of works from the historical and contemporary holdings in the BBVA Collection
    • Birdheart – a contemplative puppet theatre piece devised, directed and designed by Julian Crouch and Saskia Lane
    • Dineo Seshee Bopape – I Re-Member Mama, a billboard installation featuring a slice of earth (South Africa)
    • Brooklyn Rider – the highly acclaimed string quartet
    • Janet Cardiff – A Toning Installation, exploring the ability of sound to transport participants to alternate realities (Canada)
    • Nikhil Chopra – Life Is More Important Than Art, a durational solo performance and installation (India)
    • June Crespo – CORE22, a commissioned film and public installation (Spain)
    • Alicia Framis – Taking Flight, a paragliding costume and apparatus; a commissioned film and public exhibition of the garment (Spain)
    • Carlos Garaicoa – Proyecto Bilbao, an installation about the nature of the image, its fragmentation and perpetuity in contemporary culture (Cuba)
    • Aaron Huey – Global Open Call, an exhibition of banners from the artist’s Artist’s Amplifier campaign (USA)
    • Eva Lee – experimental filmmaker
    • Madalitso Band – street music duo from Malawi
    • Hope Masike – Zimbabwean singer and mbira player
    • Emeline Michel – Haitian music star who will perform with her band
    • Mohau Modisakeng – The Water Drummer, a performance installation consisting of sounds of water interspersed with moments of stillness and silence (South Africa)
    • Aakash Odedra – contemporary dance artist with roots in classical Indian dance
    • Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski, presented in partnership with Georgetown University, a theatre performance featuring Academy Award nominee David Strathairn
    • Daan Roosegaarde – Spark Bilbao, an outdoor happening that illuminates the city with a sustainable celebration that encourages residents and visitors to wonder and reflect (Holland)
    • The Rubin Museum – Mandala Lab, an interactive space for social, emotional, and ethical learning
    • Sonja Schenkel – Chrysalis, an immersive art installation that invites people into a sensory experience exploring transformation through touch, images and sound (Switzerland)
    • Falu Shah – Grammy nominated classical Indian singer with her band
    • Himali Singh Soin – Ancestors of the Blue Moon, a current residency/project to create a prayerbook and installation of deities (New Delhi/United Kingdom)
    • Science Gallery Bengaluru – Psyche, an exhibition of works by young people from around the world that explores the mind and the complexities of thinking and feeling
    • Shirley Tse – Meditating is Porting to a Blissful Version of Ourselves, a sculpture featuring light and wood inspired by the artist’s ongoing series “Quantum Shirley” (Hong Kong)
    • Silkroad – the acclaimed global music ensemble sparks cultural collaboration and passion driven learning
    • Ursula Hauser Collection – an exhibition of 2 major works by Berlinde De Bruyckere
    • Gerald Wirth – President and Artistic Director of the Vienna Boys Choir who will lead communal singing exercises
    • Bishop Chantel Wright and Songs of Solomon – a collaborative, inspirational gospel choir
    • Vocalia Taldea – an all-female choir based in Bilbao will perform newly commissioned songs by composers Thomas Cabaniss and Josu Elberdin

The participants of this event will attend largely by invitation to ensure a diverse, representative and pluralistic community of attendees. This will be the first of two global summits The Wellbeing Project will convene with the second to be announced for 2024. To learn more and apply to attend, please visit here.

Following the in-person summit, there will be virtual elements available to the public hosted by Parker J. Palmer, Author, Educator and Activist; Founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center for Courage and Renewal (USA) and Sharon Salzberg, NY Times Bestselling Author and Meditation Teacher (USA).

Partners include BBVA; Bizkaia – Government of Biscay; City of Bilbao; Latham & Watkins; Azkuna Zentroa; Canadian Embassy of Madrid; Community Arts Network; Draiflessen Collection; Guggenheim Bilbao; MIT Media Labs; Museo De Bellas Artes de Bilbao; Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary; The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Global; The Rubin Museum of Art; Science Gallery; and Ursula Hauser.

About The Wellbeing Project
The Wellbeing Project is a global initiative focused on catalyzing a culture of inner wellbeing for all changemakers and structured in four pillars – model programs; research and evaluation; learning, convening and enabling; and storytelling and connecting. The organization is inspired by love, care and compassion for all the people who work to build a better world, as well as to support the many causes and movements for which we all work. The Wellbeing Project is co-created with Ashoka, Impact Hub, Porticus, the Skoll Foundation, the Synergos Institute, and Georgetown University.

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