Mr. Omer Uloomi (Afghanistan), 36, is the Vice President of the Afghanistan Branch of Hanjin Intermodal America, Inc., a prime contractor for the U.S. Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). These agencies rely on Hanjin to provide line haul and freight services in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to joining Hanjin Intermodal America, Inc. in 2009, Mr. Uloomi served as the Chief of Logistics with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Kabul, where he oversaw logistics and supply chain support for the implementation, rehabilitation and construction of the Afghanistan Secondary Roads, Bridges, Schools and Medical Facilities. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Uloomi worked as the UNOPS Regional Logistics Manager in Southern Afghanistan directly supporting the first-ever democratic parliamentary and presidential elections in Afghanistan. For these outstanding efforts and his service, Mr. Uloomi received a prestigious Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) Award from the U.N. During the Taliban rule, Mr. Uloomi served with Médecins Sans Frontières, Holland (MSF-H) working on numerous medical service projects in southern Afghanistan. Mr. Uloomi holds a B.A. from the Economic School of Kabul University (2004) and a M.B.A. in Project Management from Preston University in Islamabad, Pakistan (2009). Research project: "The Challenges of Central Asia and the Silk Road Initiatives."
Mr. Wahidullah Waissi (Afghanistan), 38, is the Director-General for Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. Prior to joining MFA, from 1998 to 2011, he held different positions in national and international NGOs, UNDP, the Afghanistan Aid Coordination Authority, the Ministry of Finance, and the Office of the Senior Economic Adviser to the President. Mr. Waissi has served in different positions, including Director and Formulation Manager for Afghanistan National Development Strategy and Afghanistan Millennium Development Goals; and Senior Policy Advisor to the Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs. He has been involved in organizing and coordinating 22 international conferences for Afghanistan in Kabul, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, London, Bonn, Delhi, Dushanbe, and other places. At the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Waissi chairs the Economic Diplomacy Committee; coordinates the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA); serves as a National Focal Point for Trade, Commerce and Investment, as well as the Regional Infrastructure Confidence Building Measures in the Heart of Asia process; and is a board member for numerous projects, like TAPI, CASA-1000, Railroads, Mining and Investment. Mr. Waissi is a member of Afghanistan Policy Group, focusing on regional peace and stability with other policy groups from ten member countries. He is also a member of Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Initiative and a Co-founder and Chair of the Green Club, a voluntary association on environmental issues that promotes awareness and advocates for sustainable development. Mr. Waissi teaches economic development at the University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He holds a M.A. in Development Economics from Williams College in Massachusetts (2005). Research project: "At the Crossroads of Eurasia: The Silk Road through Afghanistan."
Mr. Ara Hovsepyan (Armenia), 40, is the Senior Country Representative of Contour Global LLP in Armenia, an American energy company that invests and runs energy producing plants in different parts of the world. He currently leads Contour Global’s negotiations with the Government of Armenia to acquire Vorotan HPP, the biggest hydropower plant in Armenia. If the deal goes through this will be the largest American investment in Armenia to date. Mr. Hovsepyan’s prior professional experience is both national and international. He started his career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1995 as a junior diplomat in the Department of International Organizations, responsible for the U.N. and UNESCO affairs. From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Hovsepyan was Head of the Armenia Office in the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), where he oversaw an annual development projects portfolio of about USD 10 million. From 2006 to 2011, Mr. Hovsepyan served as CEO of the Millennium Challenge Account in Armenia, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation’s USD 250 million development program. In 2011, Mr. Hovsepyan moved to lead the North-South Road Corridor Investment project – a USD 1.5 billion program funded by development banks and the Government of Armenia. Mr. Hovsepyan holds a B.A. from Yerevan State University of Foreign Languages (1995), a M.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the American University of Armenia (1997), and a Post-graduate diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy from Exeter College, Oxford University, UK, as a Chevening Fellow (1999). Research project: "The U.S. perspective on Global Energy Security and Alternative Resources."
Ms. Eka Grigalava (Georgia), 35, is currently an independent consultant with vast experience in both the NGO and private sectors. In her previous job, from 2009 to 2014, she worked as Stakeholder Manager and then as Consultant Stakeholder Advisor for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in Zug, Switzerland, where she was responsible for managing the project’s stakeholder relations in three host countries – Greece, Albania and Italy. She has extensive experience in corporate social responsibility, social compliance, project management and stakeholder relations. From 2005 to 2008, Ms. Grigalava worked as NGO and Community Affairs Coordinator at BP Georgia, managing some of the company’s key CSR projects as well as coordinating the production of the main annual publication – BP Georgia Sustainability Report. Prior to moving to the private sector, from 2002 to 2005, Ms. Grigalava was coordinating civic and gender programs at the Tbilisi office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). Ms. Grigalava holds a B.A. in Public Administration from Georgian Technical University (2000) and a M.A. in Public Administration from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA, 2001). Research Project: "Beyond Fuels – How Can Countries Better Benefit from Transnational Pipelines."
Dr. Anuar Ayazbekov (Kazakhstan), 32, is the First Secretary at the Department of Foreign Policy Analysis and Forecasting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this position he is responsible for research and analysis of the foreign policy of Kazakhstan with focus on integration processes and challenges in Central Asia. Prior to joining MFA, Dr. Ayazbekov worked as a researcher at the Analytical Department of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan in Astana, a researcher in the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies in Almaty, as well as visiting research fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs. Dr. Ayazbekov’s professional and academic interests include Central Asian regional affairs and the diplomatic history of Kazakhstan in the 1990s. Dr. Ayazbekov holds a B.A. in International Relations from KIMEP University in Almaty, Kazakhstan (2003), a M.A. in International Diplomacy from Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia (2004), and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews, UK (2013). Research project: "Bridging Academia and Policymaking in Kazakhstan."
Ms. Madina Tulesbayeva (Kazakhstan), 36, is a Financial Analyst at ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Inc. where she is responsible for the preparation of financial reports to North Caspian Operating Company, as well as financial operating reporting to the company management. Before taking her current position, she worked on other projects at ExxonMobil Kazakhstan such as Caspian Pipeline Consortium and Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli in the Caspian. Ms. Tulesbayeva has more than 10 years of working experience in the financial sector and, prior to joining ExxonMobil Kazakhstan, worked from 2003-2005 for the National Innovation Fund JSC and from 1999-2003 for the Bank CenterCredit, JSC. Ms. Tulesbayeva holds a B.A. in International Economic Relations from the Kazakh State Academy of Management in Almaty (1999), and a MBA with a specialization in Finance from the Rochester Institute of Technology (2007). Research project: "North Caspian Sea Production Sharing Agreement: Government’s policy and Corporate Governance."
Mr. Talant Sultanov (Kyrgyzstan), 36, is the Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies of the Kyrgyz Republic, a government think tank, which provides the offices of the President and the Prime Minister with analytical support on economic, political and social issues. Mr. Sultanov is also the Vice President for Finance of the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), where he manages administrative, financial and security matters, as well as issues related to the new campus and dormitory construction projects. Mr. Sultanov is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Microcredit Organization “Humo” in Tajikistan (a volunteer position). Prior to his current positions, Mr. Sultanov worked in Project Finance at Kazkommertsbank in Almaty from 2006 to 2010, then at the World Bank Head Office in Washington, D.C., and in the Central Asia Regional Office in Almaty from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Sultanov holds a B.A. in International Relations from San Francisco State University (1999, Summa Cum Laude), where he graduated as the Top Student in the Program, and a M.A. in International Finance from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA, 2006). Research project: "Kyrgyzstan at the Silk Cross-Roads - Future of the U.S.-Kyrgyz Relations."
Mr. Saintulga Munkhgerel (Mongolia), 29, is the CEO of Khotgor Minerals LLC, a company that is working to develop one of the largest rare earth element deposits in Mongolia. Prior to joining Khotgor Minerals in 2012, Mr. Munkhgerel worked with Rio Tinto Group on its Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine development project in Mongolia where he negotiated with the Mongolian government to obtain a license to build the largest power plant in the country. Mr. Munkhgerel also served as a member of two government appointed working groups that negotiated power import terms with a Chinese state owned enterprise and commercial terms for the sale of copper concentrates to the Chinese enterprises. In 2009, while working as a relationship manager at Golomt Bank, Mr. Munkhgerel helped to structure a deal between Standard Bank, the Mongolian Ministry of Finance, and other Mongolian commercial banks for the funding of gold mining projects worth USD 90 million. Mr. Munkhgerel is also a core organizer for NextGen Mongolia, a community organization for leadership development of young professionals. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of the North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2008). Research project: "Policy Development for Imported Raw Materials Critical to U.S. Manufacturing."
Ms. Gunesh Bakgalova (Turkmenistan), 35, is a Senior Legal Counsel and Regulatory Compliance Manager at Schlumberger Corporation in Turkmenistan where she deals with legal and regulatory compliance issues; mitigation, litigation and arbitration; drafting and negotiating contracts for clients and suppliers; as well as represents the company in external affairs. She is also a Country Director for Turkmenistan at INOGATE, the European Commission’s energy program. Prior to her current position, Ms. Bakgalova worked for numerous national agencies, law firms and international organizations including the Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations, the Ministry of Justice, the National Coordinating Unit of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, ABA Rule of Law Initiative in Turkmenistan, OSCE Center in Ashgabat, AK Counsel-SNR Denton, PPG Industries Inc., and Miller & Martin PLLC. In 2012, Ms. Bakgalova was honored by the Government of Turkmenistan and the European Commission as one of the top practicing lawyers to develop the first-ever trilingual interpretive legal dictionary in Turkmenistan. Ms. Bakgalova holds a LL.B. from the School of Law & International Economic Relations of the Turkmen State University (1999, Summa Cum Laude), a LL.M. from the Law School at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2009), and a M.A. in Political Science from the Institute for European Politics in Berlin, Germany (2012). Research project: "Combating Money Laundering and Corruption in Turkmenistan."
Mr. Mirzo Ibragimov (Uzbekistan), 32, is the Deputy Head of the Political and Public Diplomacy Section at the British Embassy in Uzbekistan. His role requires him to manage and coordinate the Embassy’s project, media and public diplomacy activities. He also contributes to analysis of main political and economic developments in Uzbekistan and in the region. From 2008 to 2012, Mr. Ibragimov held the post of Program Officer for Armed, Police and Security Forces at the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation for Central Asia, where he implemented activities designed to build capacity of the Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the fields of Law of Armed Conflict and international human rights standards regulating the use of force in law enforcement operations. Prior to joining the ICRC, Mr. Ibragimov interned in the European Anti-Fraud Office in Brussels and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where he practiced his knowledge in European and International Law, and judicial and law enforcement co-operation in criminal matters. In 2006, in the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Mr. Ibragimov conducted research on political and legal issues relating to the protection of the national minorities of Central Asia. Mr. Ibragimov holds a LL.B. in International Law from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent (2005), and a M.A. in Political Science from the OSCE Academy in Bishkek. Research project: "The Russia-Ukraine Crisis and Its’ Implications for Central Asia: Challenges and Opportunities."