International Program Director
Liz Shropshire has more than twenty years of experience as a composer and music teacher. She received her BA from Brigham Young University in Music Composition and Theory and an advanced graduate degree from the University of Southern California in Composition for the Music Industry.
Her experience as an educator includes five years’ teaching emotionally-disturbed elementary and secondary school students in Los Angeles; musical instruction in Los Angeles-area elementary schools; private musical instruction for students ages 4 to 60; and service as educational director for the Long Beach Symphony.
Humanitarian and Founder
In August 1999, Liz took leave of her musical career in Los Angeles to embark on her work in Kosovo. She solicited donations of more than $5000 in instruments and music before traveling to Kosovo as a volunteer with the Balkan Sunflowers Organization. In the city of Gjakove, Liz successfully organized and taught a short-term music program in a local secondary school and a transit shelter camp. She subsequently served in the cities of Peje and Kline as a music therapist with a different organization. In January 2000, Liz founded the Kosovo Children’s Music Initiative (KCMI) to establish musical education and performance programs advancing the welfare of Kosovar children and communities. To date, KCMI has reached over 9,000 children, with classes being taught by a well-trained staff of Kosovar Youth Volunteers.
In October 2004, Liz began the Peace Through Music Northern Ireland project, bringing together war-traumatized children from segregated communities for music classes and concerts. In March 2005, she began establishing Peace Through Music Uganda, to work with children rescued from kidnappers who forced them into becoming child soldiers.
Liz’s organizational responsibilities include program curriculum development and staff and volunteer training for the Kosovo, Northern Ireland, and Uganda programs, as well as teaching, conducting seminars, and speaking engagements on peace, children, war-trauma, and tolerance in the United States. She spends most of the year living and working in Kosovo, Northern Ireland, and Uganda. She also supervises the daily operations of the Shropshire Music Foundation, established in 2000 to provide funding for all of these programs.
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Assistant International Program Director
Burim Vraniqaj has nine years experience as a trainer and teacher. He fled Kosovo for Montenegro, but returned to Gjakovë to take care of his family during the height of the Kosovo war. Burim completed his secondary education in 2001. He has since studied English, computer literacy, administrative skills, and worked in displaced persons camps as well as for nongovernmental organizations such as the United Nations International Police Center, the Balkan Sunflowers, Fare Verde, and the Kosovo Youth Network. He reports that working for The Shropshire Music Foundation has given him the opportunity not only to experience profound personal growth, but also to “see how other volunteers in the program are growing and changing.”
Burim performs and supervises the daily operations of all SMF programs in Kosovo, including the teaching of children, the training of youth volunteers, and the training of school teachers. He has worked for SMF since 2001. In 2007, Burim became the Assistant International Program Director, and traveled with Liz Shropshire to Uganda to assist in the establishment of SMF programs in Uganda. In 2008 and 2009, Burim returned to Uganda to continue building our programs there. He is now Program Director for both Kosovo and Uganda.