Mr. Barry Salaam (Afghanistan), 37, is a journalist, activist and entrepreneur. Mr. Salaam is the Founder and President of NAW Media, a production company which produces a wide variety of radio programs, television shows, commercials, documentaries and feature films that reflect the challenges of Afghan society and aim to inform and enlighten the public. Mr. Salaam is also the Founder and President of Channel 7 TV Network, which promotes Afghanistan’s movie industry and focuses on cross-cultural themes and social issues. In 2012, he was also elected as the President of the Organization of Afghan Alumni, a network of over 500 alumni of educational and cultural exchange programs sponsored by the United States Government. Mr. Salaam is a founding member and sits on the Board of the Civil Society & Human Rights Network (CSHRN) of Afghanistan, which unites 120 member organizations, and is also a member of the Board of Directors of Radio Television Afghanistan and a leading member of the Afghan National Journalists Union (ANJU). He is a frequent participant in international conferences promoting democracy, women’s rights, free media, development and security in Afghanistan. Mr. Salaam holds a BA in Persian Literature from Kabul University (2008) and has been awarded several prestigious fellowships in the U.S., U.K. and Germany focusing on journalism and cultural issues. Research Project: "Afghan Civil Society: A Path from the Most Oppressed to the Most Vibrant in the Region."
Mr. Mahmood Noorzai (Afghanistan), 28, is an independent political consultant and the Director of the NGO, "Kandahar Women, Peace and Unity Association." Prior to his current position, from 2013-14 Mr. Noorzai served as the Open Source Intelligence Chief at the National Directorate of Security of Afghanistan, from 2012-13 as Senior Political Advisor to the NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, and from 2010-12 as a Senior Political Analyst at the National Security Council of Afghanistan. He is also a co-founder of "Afghanistan Forward," a leading civil movement with a nation-wide network of young professionals that promotes societal and governance changes and motivates younger generations to play a more active role in the development of Afghanistan. Mr. Noorzai holds a BA in Political Science and Sociology from St. Joseph's College, University of Bangalore, India (2008), a MA in Diplomacy from the University of Nottingham, UK (2012) and a Masters level diploma in Advanced Security Studies from the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies, Germany (2010). Research Project: "Geopolitics of Central Asia Energy."
Ms. Lilit Petrosyan (Armenia), 38, is the Commissioner of the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials, a corruption prevention agency in Armenia that was established in 2012 to promote ethical conduct and standards in the public sector. She was nominated to this position by the Chairman of the Parliament and appointed by the President of Armenia. In her capacity as Commissioner, Ms. Petrosyan is responsible for the elaboration and implementation of ethics and integrity reform initiatives in Armenia. In addition, Ms. Petrosyan coordinates ethics related programs supported by international organizations and partners of the Commission. At the Commission, Ms. Petrosyan is a focal point of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Anti-corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and a member of the Eastern Partnership Panels’ Working Group on Public Administration Reform. Previously, from 2007-12, Ms. Petrosyan worked in the Office of the President of Armenia as an advisor to the Analytical Research Department, where she was responsible for preparing recommendations on draft legislation and reforms as well as conducting research on best international reform practices. Ms. Petrosyan holds a BA in International Economics from Yerevan State University (1999) and a MA in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2009). Research Project: "Corruption Challenges in the Greater Central Asia-Caucasus Region."
Mr. Emil Gasimli (Azerbaijan), 31, is the Chief of Marketing and Business Development at the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). In this capacity, Mr. Gasimli is responsible for the coordination of marketing campaigns as well as the business development activities of the company in the Caspian region and beyond, including the coordination of SOCAR’s commercial activities within the Southern Gas Corridor project. Prior to his current position, he spent 5 years working in different IT consulting companies as well as for BP, coordinating their IT projects and activities in Azerbaijan. Mr. Gasimli’s areas of interest include energy security, international affairs, public policy, IT, governance and marketing. Over the years, he has participated in numerous international conferences and events on energy issues. Mr. Gasimli holds a BA in Finance and Accounting from the State Oil Academy in Baku and Georgia State University, USA (2007), a MBA from the University of Louisiana (2009) and a MBA from the State Economics University in Baku (2010). He has also completed the Advanced Foreign Service Program at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA), receiving the ADA Distinguished Attaché Award (2010), and has earned a Master Certificate in Project Management from the School of Project Management of the Educational Services Institute (ESI International) in partnership with George Washington University (2015). Research Project: "Caspian Energy: Source of Regional Conflict and Cooperation."
Mr. Sulkhan Glonti (Georgia), 33, is an elected Board Member and Chairman of the Faction of the "Free Democrats" political party, as well as a Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights Protection of the Supreme Council (Parliament) of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Georgia. Mr. Glonti is one of the founders of the Free Democrats party, and from 2009-12 served as the head of the party’s youth organization. Prior to joining politics, Mr. Glonti was actively involved in civil society development, and from 2006-9 worked at the Institute of Strategy and Development. From 2004-5, he also served as a Member of the Presidential Council’s Commission of Education and Culture of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. Mr. Glonti holds a BA in Theology from Tbilisi Theological Academy (2003) and a BA in Public Relations from Tbilisi State University (2007). He is an active blogger and an author of numerous of publications. Research project: "International Terrorism: New Challenges for Georgia."
Mr. Rakhim Oshakbayev (Kazakhstan), 39, is a Vice-Minister for Investments and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this capacity, he is responsible for the development and implementation of investment policy and international cooperation in this area. Prior to joining the Ministry of Investment and Development, from 2013-15 Mr. Oshakbayev served as Deputy Chairman of the Board of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan, where he was in charge of integration, customs and technical regulations, agribusiness, the food industry, new technologies and green economy. From 2012-13, Mr. Oshakbayev served as the First Deputy Chairman of the National Economic Chamber of Kazakhstan, from 2011-12 served as a Managing Director of Kazakhstan’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, "Samruk-Kazyna," and from 2009-11 he was Director General of the Analytical Center of Economic Policy in the Agro-Industrial Complex under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In addition, from 2010-13, Mr. Oshakbayev was Head of the "Association of the Economists of Kazakhstan," a public foundation. Mr. Oshakbayev began his career in 2001 at "KazAgroFinance," a financial leasing company, where he eventually was elected the Chairman of the Board. In 2004 he left the company for private business and until 2008 was CEO of "Synergy" LLP, working on several development projects in Astana. Mr. Oshakbayev holds a BS in Economics from Lomonosov Moscow State University (1999). Research project: "How Strengthening Civil Society Can Help Kazakhstan Overcome Current Economic Difficulties."
Ms. Eliza Nishanbaeva (Kyrgyzstan), 36, is the Founder and Managing Director of Human Resources of Kyrgyzstan Ltd., a regional consultancy and recruitment service provider for assignments for highly qualified and experienced professionals in Central Asia. In addition, she founded Bishkek Business School in response to the growing interest in promoting human resources and education management in Kyrgyzstan. Today, Bishkek Business School is a leading institution providing business training and coaching in the country. Ms. Nishanbaeva is also a Deputy General Director at Manas Resources Ltd., an Australian-based gold developer and mining company in Kyrgyzstan. She is also an active member of the Women Entrepreneurs’ Association "Kurak," Bishkek Business Club, International Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Nishanbaeva holds a BA in Education Management from Arabaev Kyrgyz State University (2000), a diploma in Crisis Management from the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden (2007), a MA in Human Resources Management from Lomonosov State University of Moscow (2010) and is currently pursuing a MA in Health Safety and Human Resources in Mining from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Research project: "Recruitment Strategies for the Government: Case of Kyrgyzstan."
Mr. Narantuguldur Saijrakh (Mongolia), 29, is the Country Director of Khan Investment Management Ltd., a Singapore-based investment boutique providing global investors with access to a wide range of investment and business opportunities in Mongolia. He is also a Board Member of the Khan Mongolia Equity Fund, the first open-end investment fund dedicated to Mongolia, and serves as the Chair of its Investment Committee. Prior to his current position, Mr. Saijrakh was the General Manager of Asia Pacific Securities LLC, the Mongolia-based securities brokerage arm of Asia Pacific Investment Partners, where he led its expansion into one of the largest brokerages in the country. Mr. Saijrakh currently serves as the Incoming (Deputy) Curator of the Global Shapers Ulaanbaatar Hub, a local youth community under the World Economic Forum, and a Board Member of TEDxUlaanbaatar, organizer of the main TEDx events in Mongolia. He also initiated the NextGen Mongolia community dedicated to the leadership development of young professionals. In 2015, Forbes Mongolia named Mr. Saijrakh on their "30 Under 30" list of the most influential change-makers in the country. Mr. Saijrakh is a Certified Private Banker from the Luxembourg Banking Training Institute and a Certified International Company Director from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Mr. Saijrakh holds a BA in Business Administration and Economics from the American University in Bulgaria (2009). He has also completed a training program in International Capital Markets at the London Stock Exchange Academy (2011). Research project: "Sustainable Economic Growth Strategy for Mongolia: Development of the Financial Industry to Counter Cyclical Shocks Created by Mining Cycles."
Mr. Nemuun Gal (Mongolia), 37, is a co-founder and partner at NovaTerra LLC, specializing in corporate and project finance deal structuring, general contracts and regulatory framework advice. At NovaTerra Mr. Gal was instrumental in closing several multi-million dollar deals. In the past, Mr. Gal has also served as General Counsel at SouthGobi Sands LLC, a leading Mongolian coal mining company, and as General Counsel at Newcom Group, one of the largest investment companies in Mongolia. Prior to joining the private sector, Mr. Gal worked for the Mongolian Foreign Service for seven years, first in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and later at the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations, where he was in charge of political and legal affairs. Mr. Gal holds a law degree in jurisprudence from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University, 2001) and a LLM from the Columbia University School of Law, New York (2009), where he was the Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Bretzfelder International Law Scholar for 2008-9 and LLM Class Speaker in 2009. Mr. Gal is a member of the Bar of the State of New York since June 2010. Research project: "FDI and International Arbitration: Lessons for Mongolia."
Mr. Ozodkhon Davlatshoev (Tajikistan), 39, is the Executive Director of Kulob Petroleum Limited and the Director of Tethys Petroleum Representation in Tajikistan, an international oil and gas exploration and production company currently focused on Central Asia. He is also a Founder and Director of Shohsotoon LLC, a manufacturer and importer of energy efficient construction technologies in Tajikistan, and a co-Founder and Director of Vantage Point Partners LLC, a real estate, investment and development company based in the UAE. Since 2012, Mr. Davlatshoev is also an Honorary Consul of Sweden in Tajikistan. For the past 20 years, Mr. Davlatshoev has been actively involved with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). He began his career at AKFED’s Enterprise Support Facility, a precursor to the First Microfinance Bank of Tajikistan. From 2000-3, Mr. Davlatshoev worked as AKFED’s Investment Officer in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, helping to launch and manage several companies, including INDIGO Tajikistan (now TCell), Serena Hotel in Dushanbe and the Pamir Energy Company. In 2004 he became AKFED’s Deputy Director for Industrial and Infrastructure Development in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Beginning in 2006, Mr. Davlatshoev spearheaded investment and project development activities for AKFED in Central Asia, developing projects in renewable energy, mining, water and waste management, telecommunications, airport infrastructure and management, manufacturing and the agro industry. He now also plays a lead role in the Aga Khan Development Network’s (AKDN) Enterprise Growth Accelerator and Enterprise Development Platform in Tajikistan and other AKDN regions. Mr. Davlatshoev holds a BA in Middle-Eastern Studies (1997) and a BA in Economics (1999) from Khorog State University, as well as a MBA with specialization in Strategic Planning and Strategic Risk Management from Edinburgh Business School, Herriot-Watt University, UK (2004). Research project: "Economic Empowerment through Impact Investments: Creating Jobs and Building Sustainable Enterprises."
Ms. Raykhona Khashimova (Uzbekistan), 33, is a Commercial Officer at the British Embassy in Uzbekistan, where her responsibilities include the promotion of UK-Uzbekistan trade and investment relations, lobbying interests of British companies operating in the country and consulting with British investors on business opportunities and risks in the local market. Prior to joining the British Embassy, from 2009-12 Ms. Khashimova served as the Head of the Country Office of a Hong Kong based company exporting commodities from Uzbekistan, and from 2007-8 was a Logistics Analyst at Carlsberg Uzbekistan, where she helped with procurement to launch a new, multimillion-dollar brewery in Uzbekistan. Ms. Khashimova is also a pro-bono consultant to the Socio-Economic Development Center, a leading women’s NGO in Uzbekistan, where she provides advice on project management and fundraising, international donor relations, microfinance products and women’s entrepreneurship development. Ms. Khashimova holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Uzbek State University of World Languages (2003), a BS in Finance and Economics from Virginia Union University (2006) and is currently pursuing her MA in International Business and Management at Westminster International University in Tashkent. Research project: "Partnerships between U.S. Based Donor Organizations and Microfinance Institutions in CAMCA Countries."
Mr. Ruslan Ramanov (Uzbekistan), 33, is the Executive Assistant to the Head of the NATO Office in Central Asia, where his primary responsibilities are constant and direct communication with Foreign and Defense Ministries of the five Central Asian countries as well as their Permanent Missions to NATO. The goals of this communication are to maximize these countries’ use of NATO’s partnership; to coordinate NATO-Central Asia transit issues within the framework of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) and the Northern Line of Communication (NLC); and to facilitate NATO’s practical engagement with Central Asian partners in a variety of areas, including defense planning and review, support to NATO operations, defense education and training, civil emergency planning, cooperation on science and environmental issues and public diplomacy. Mr. Ramanov’s responsibilities also include briefing NATO Headquarters on relevant political-military, security and defense news from the region and to implement various NATO Public Diplomacy events and activities in the region. Prior to joining the NATO Office in Central Asia, from 2001-13 Mr. Ramanov worked at various international agencies and civil society institutes including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Freedom House International, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the EU-funded Civil Justice Project under Regional Dialogue International and the Open Society Institute’s Civic Education Project. Mr. Ramanov holds a MA in Public Policy Administration from the University of Missouri, Saint Louis (2009). Research project: "U.S. Foreign Policy in Central Asia following ISAF Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for Regional Security Cooperation."