Board of Directors
Elmira Shishkaraeva is a Policy Officer of UN World Food Program in Kyrgyzstan. Previously, she worked as a UNDP Country Programme Gender Coordinator; a Regional Manager of Academic Fellowship Program of Central Asia and Mongolia, Higher Education Support Program, Open Society Institute (OSI Budapest) as well as a Country Manager for USAID/Winrock Int. project on Preventing Human Trafficking. Holds PhD in History and has taught in American University of Central Asia and Academy of Public Administration under the President of KR. Elmira is an author of sixteen articles and book chapters on civil society sector developments, government and NGO’s relationships and gender education. As a member of different consulting groups, she has an experience of writing policy papers and notes for the Kyrgyz Republic President’s Administration and international organizations. Elmira also was a Fulbright Program Scholar at SUNY Albany in 2013-2014.
Meri Nikoghosyan, CELA 10 Armenia, currently employed as the Executive Director of VISTAA Consulting. During the years of her directorship the company has been distinguished in terms of programmatic achievements and financial performance. VISTAA has been selected as one of the ten Ruban d’Honneur recipients in “The 2010 European Business Awards” which is taking place every year in Paris, France.Ms Nikoghosyan holds Master’s degree in Political Science fromthe American University of Armenia. Her first major is in Sociology from the Yerevan State University.Her hobbies are playing tennis, traveling, reading books and watching movies.
Mr. Emil Gasimli 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 some commercial activities within the Southern Gas Corridor project. He has also been part of different negotiations groups within 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 holds a BA in Finance and Accounting from the State Oil Academy in Baku and Georgia State University, USA (2007), a MBA degree from the University of Louisiana (2009) and another MBA degree from the State Economics University in Baku (2010) with honor. He has also completed the Advanced Foreign Service Program at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA), a six months executive education program for diplomats and civil servants, with a Distinguished Attaché Award (2010). He has earned a Master Certificate in Project Management from the School of Project Management of ESI International in partnership with George Washington University (2015).
He has also completed Rumsfeld Fellowship Program (2016) and has been the National Coordinator 2016 till 2018 for Rumsfeld Fellows in Azerbaijan. He has also completed Leadership: Organization and Action program of Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education.
Sherzod is a Deputy General Manager at State Enterprise responsible for waste management “Maxsustrans”. Previously he was managing Private Enterprise “Tiklamoq” and was responsible for company development, strategic planning and management. The purpose of the company is to enact a vision of future
energy from Renewable Sources with no harm to Nature and Environment. Sherzod now actively advocates for Solar, Wind, Hydro, Biogas and Biomass Energy resources with his colleagues from Alternative Energy Club and Green Business Platform. An example is that together with Uzbek Japanese Center for Human Development he has developed a program with slogan “Light and heat in every home”, which helps local entrepreneurs, farmers and rural habitants find applicable and most effective sources of renewable energy.
Sherzod has over 15 years of experience in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering in other firms.
Sherzod holds MSc in Asset Management from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland and BEng from Tashkent State Technical University. He also plays an active role in other projects such as Professional Management Program and the alumni association of Chevening Scholarship holders (a British government program for advanced degrees in the UK).
Natia Zedginidze, Georgia
Natia Zedginidze is the Deputy Minister at Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia. Her main areas of managing in the ministry are: economics/budgetary, legislative, education infrastructure, assets management, information management systems; school’s internal officers resource center, international education support center. Additionally, she presents the ministry on governmental and parliamentary level as a Parliamentary Secretary.
Natia’s working experience in civil sector is also linked to the Parliament of Georgia, when she was holding the position of Chief of Staff at Parliament of Georgia, Committee of Environment and Natural Resources.
She has 13 years of academic experience as an Associate Professor, PhD in Economics at different leading universities in Georgia on MBA and PhD degree studies: University of Georgia, Caucasus University, Ilia State University, Black Sea International University, American University for Humanities.
Before joining the civil sector, Natia has been working for 10 years in NGO sector under donor funded programs in human and institutional capacity development projects related to governmental institutions, NGOs and business sector companies. Namely, she has been leading, managing and/or working as an consultant/trainer in different assignments funded by International donor organizations in Georgia: USAID, UNDP, DRC, GIZ, EBRD and etc.
In 2014-2015 Mrs. Natia was assigned as ‘Financial Literacy’ Project Manager at one of the biggest banks in Georgia, JSC TBC Bank. The project was aimed at building and raising awareness in a society about financial products and wealth management. Under the project she was TV SHOW presenter, idea developer. The project generated high reach and view rates in TV channel and social media. Her working experience in financial sector also accounts 6 years as an Strategic Expert at JSC Bank of Georgia.
Muzaffar Atamirzaev, Uzbekistan
Muzaffar Atamirzaev is a Founder and CEO of the International Lending Center, microfinance organization, based in Russian Federation. Mr. Atamirzaev was a core CELA staff member from 2008 to 2013 and CELA Network Senior Manager since 2011. For the previous years, he worked in the microfinance field of Uzbekistan, lately as microfinance development adviser for the UNDP/Support to Reform Process in Uzbekistan. Earlier, Mr. Atamirzaev worked on various microfinance programs of international organizations, and at the Social Complex division of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan for several years.
Mr. Atamirzaev obtained his MA in Economics from Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics in Moscow and BA in Economics & Management from the Tashkent Transport Engineering Institute, coupled with research at the World Bank Institute in Washington DC. In 2005, he studied credit to micro and small enterprises in Arizona State University on a Cochran Fellowship. He is a native of Uzbekistan and an alumnus of CELA 6 class.
Meade Sutterfield is a private equity investor primarily in emerging telecommunications and wireless communications entities. He currently serves as an advisor to Counsel Ventures and Antares Capital, as well as a director on the board of two companies among the 32 in which he is or has been an angel investor.
From 1985-1993 he was concurrently a founder and President of PowerFone, Inc., Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) carrier in the major markets in Michigan and Ohio, and Johnson Communications Corporation SMR carrier in the southeastern United States. These companies were merged into the rollup which created Nextel Communications as a nationwide company. He was previously President of AllianceWall Corporation in 1984 and at Kimberly-Clark, where from 1980-1984 he had held several positions leading to Vice-President and General Manager of the Service and Industrial Division. His initial career was Scientific-Atlanta, where he held a number of sales, marketing, operations and general management positions in Europe and America during his tenure from 1974-1980. Meade’s education includes a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1972 and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard University in 1974, both with honors. In 1986, he was the President of the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta. Meade is a Director of the Atlanta Technology Angels. He is a past Chair of the Alumni Association of the Georgia Institute of Technology and currently serves on the Institute’s Foundation Board, the Research Corporation Board and Capital Campaign Steering Committee, as well as the Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and the Flashpoint Incubator. He is a past Chair of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) and is the Past Chair of the Global Network Foundation of SIBF. In 2002, he was one of the founders of the Central Eurasian Leadership Academy (CELA) and has participated in all none academies and attended almost every reunion, resulting in travel to every country in the region. He is also involved through SIBF in the Middle East Leadership Academy (MELA) which is beginning a parallel organization to CELA and SIBF for young leaders from the 13 Arabic states in the Levant, Arabian Peninsula and Egypt and has participated in all of those programs. He is married to Susan and they have four married children and seven young grandchildren.
Steven Raab is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The InSource Group which provides a variety of Information Technology services and highly qualified Information Technology professionals to its commercial and federal government clients on a contract basis. As Chairman, CEO and one of the founders of The InSource Group, Mr. Raab is responsible for the current and future performance of the business including the strategic direction, profitability, board management and governance, and ultimately operational excellence. The Insource Group was a three time qualifier in the SMU Cox Business School of Business Dallas 100, has received numerous other awards, and previously was recognized as one Texas’ fastest growing Women Owned Businesses.
Mr. Raab began his technical career at IBM, where he held various line and staff management positions in sales and vertical industry markets over a period of 17 years. He also has been the founder and President of his own custom home building company, Executive Vice President of Real Estate and Real Estate Lending for Champion Savings & Loan, and EVP of Real Time Financial Systems, Inc.
He is the past President and current member of the board of The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, past Board Chair and Board member of Dallas Social Venture Partners, board member of Social Venture Partners International and board member of SIBF’s Central Eurasia Leadership Academy (CELA). He is serving as facilitator coordinator for the MELA program.
Steven is keenly interested in geopolitics, international security, and foreign affairs and in that pursuit he is a member of The Tower Center Forum at SMU, World Affairs Council of Dallas/Ft. Worth and Dallas Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Raab is also interested in social innovation, travel, motorcycle riding, hand and shot gun sports (particularly skeet/sporting clays), learning piano, and reading.
Steven is currently pursuing a Masters of International Relations at Southern Methodist University.