Shawn Thwaites is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and has over 15 years of experience in music composition, performance, and education. After completing his undergraduate studies, Thwaites founded Pan United Youth Movement (PUYM), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that exists to empower underserved youth with essential life skills through music education and performance. Through PUYM, Thwaites has founded two youth steel orchestras: Virginia All Steel Orchestra (VASO) and the Washington National Steel Orchestra (WNSO). Under Thwaites’ leadership, VASO and WNSO have taken young musicians, ages 7 and up, to perform throughout the United States. Some of their favorite past performance venues include Disney World and Universal Studios. His students have played for several popular culture icons, like LeBron James, Denzel Washington, Ron Howard, and Ashanti. In 2009, he led a music workshop with Esperanza Spalding at the University of Maryland, featuring PUYM students. In 2010, he formed a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, the first of its kind, bringing steeldrum education to diverse student populations, many of which had never heard of the steeldrum. In 2016, PUYM will celebrate its 13th anniversary.