The Bi-National Commission for the Preservation of Bulgaria’s Cultural Heritage was established as an outgrowth of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Bulgaria in January of 2015. During this visit, Secretary Kerry announced that education and culture was one of a number of key areas in which the US and Bulgaria would engage in strategic dialogue. The goal of the cultural preservation commission is to bring together experts from diverse fields dealing with tangible and intangible cultural heritage and to identify projects worthy of preservation and to work with American specialists to identify and recommend best practices for such preservation efforts. The new commission will be under the auspices of the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange, which has successfully been facilitating educational and cultural exchange between Bulgaria and the United States for more than twenty years. The cultural preservation commission’s longer-term goal is to help assemble the necessary financial, academic, professional and cultural resources to launch a bid for Bulgaria to be included in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which would expose millions of Americans to Bulgarian history and culture and invigorate the country’s tourism potential. To this end, the commission is organizing a conference entitled “Museum Exhibits and Standards: A Look Ahead” on November 28-29, 2016, to which representatives of the Smithsonian Institute and leading US experts in cultural heritage and museum studies will be invited to consult with the commission to identify preservation projects of interest and to help develop Bulgarian museum’s potential. Conference sub-themes will include “Contemporary Tendencies in Museum Exhibition or How to Impress Visitors of All Ages,” “The Future of Digital Expositions and Mobile Applications for Stimulating Cultural Tourism,” and “Best Practices in Designing Events and Educational Programs Dedicated to Cultural Heritage.”

The members of the Bi-National Commission for the Preservation of Bulgaria’s Cultural Heritage are:

Stefan Belishki, ICOMOS
Stefan Belishki, President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), has been involved in heritage conservation since 1983, thanks to his everlasting passion for art. Stefan is Chairman of the Association of Conservator-Restorers in Bulgaria and its delegate in E.C.C.O. (European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers’ Organizations), where he is a member of the board. He is also member of ICOMOS (President of ICOMOS/Bulgaria) and a member of the Executive Committee of ICOMOS International; and the International Council of Museums-Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC), where belongs to the Paintings, Education and Mural Paintings groups. He still finds time to publish articles in specialized journals and present papers at conferences and symposiums. In recent years Stefan has participated in several courses and workshops in Europe and the U.S., including ICCROM course Sharing Conservation Decisions 2004, and a course on the conservation of photographs at NEDCC, Andover, U.S.
Svetla Dimitrova, Director, Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex
Svetla Dimitrova – director of the Etar Complex in Gabrovo, graduated the French Language School in Varna (1976).  She was awarded Master’s Degree in History by “St. Cyril and Methodius” University of Veliko Tarnovo (1980).  Svetla worked at the Regional Museum of Stara Zagora from 1982 to 2014.  She was awarded a Ph.D. in Bulgarian History in 2009. She has published over 65 scientific articles and dozens of popular science articles and is the author of five monographs and editor of 12 books.  She is the Chairman of the History and Philosophy Section of the Union of Scientists – Stara Zagora, a member of the Management Board of the Community Donation Fund, and a member of the Board of Alliance Francaise.
Ekaterina Dzhumalieva, Directorate for Cultural Heritage, Museums and Visual Arts, Ministry of Culture
Ekaterina Dzhumalieva, State Expert, Cultural Heritage, Museums and Visual Arts Directorate, Ministry of Culture, has over twenty years of experience as an expert within the Ministry of Culture, where her areas of expertise include Museums; Galleries; Cultural Heritage; Cultural Policy; Exhibitions; State Indemnity; Management and Cooperation; Museology; Mobility of Collections; Events Coordination, Strategic Planning and Digitalization. She holds an M.A. in Slavic Philology and is a doctoral candidate in Museum Studies at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. She has participated in numerous international projects and seminars in Japan, Germany, England and elsewhere. She is Deputy Chairperson of the Bulgarian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
Lenko Grigorov, Architect, Independent Expert
Lenko Grigorov, Architecture Expert, National Institute of Immovable Cultural Heritage, completed his master’s degree in architecture in 2011.  He was a member of the archeological team for Sofia and Plovdiv that mapped out the structures and created documentation for the Amphitheater in Sofia, the West Gate of Serdica, and the northern part of the Agora of Philippopolis.  Since June 2011, he has served as a senior expert in the Territorial Research department at the National Institute of Immovable Cultural Heritage.  His main duties include survey, research of historic buildings and sites of cultural heritage.  He was a team member of the project “Planning concept for the preservation and sustainable development of St. Kirik and Julita Island, town of Sozopol”, as well as other projects.
Irena Gueorgieva, Deputy Minister of Tourism
Irena Georgieva, Deputy Minister of Tourism. Ms. Georgieva is a graduate of the Sociology Department of the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridsky” and has been awarded a golden medal for academic excellence and active public engagement by the university. Almost her entire professional career has been closely linked to tourism. She has extensive managerial experience of almost 25 years in the sector as manager of tourist agencies. She has gained multiple tourism-related certificates which testify to her extensive expertise in the field of tourism. Since 2006 to her appointment as Deputy Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents (ABTTA) and from 2009 until 2013 she has been chair of the Board of Directors of the association. Irena Georgieva is an acknowledged international tourism expert whose experience is highly valued by her colleagues abroad. From 2009 till her appointment as Deputy Minister of Tourism she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the European Travel Agents & Tour Operators Associations (ECTAA) and she has been both director and deputy director of the organization. She has also been president of ECTAA from 2010 till 2012. She speaks Russian, French and English.
Boris Hadzhiyski, Director, Pazardzhik Museum; Chairman, Bulgarian Museum Association
Boris Hadzhiyski – director of the Bulgarian Museums Association and director of the Pazardzhik Regional History Museum. He graduated History at Sofia University in 1990 with a specialization in Archaeology.  From 1990-2009 he managed several private and public companies dealing in petrol and lumber in Sofia, Plovdiv and Pazardjik.  In 2013 and 2014 he was named Manager of the Year of the Pazardjik Region.  He has served as the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Bulgarian Museums Association since its establishment in 2012.  Boris was also a member of the Museum Expert Council of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture in 2013 and 2014. He speaks German and Russian fluently and has some working knowledge of English.  His interests lie in the areas of Cultural Management and Cultural Heritage Preservation.
Tammy Paltchikov, Cultural and Educational Attache, US Embassy
Tammy Paltchikov, Educational and Cultural Attaché, U.S. Embassy, joined the U.S. Department of State as a public diplomacy officer in January 2008.  Since that time, she has been posted in the Bahamas, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Bulgaria, serving in consular, public affairs, and cultural affairs positions.  Prior to joining the State Department, she worked as the Assistant Director in the Office of International Programs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).  In that capacity, she worked with foreign students and visitors, primarily from the former Soviet Union, arranging their cultural, business, and educational programs in the U.S.  Tammy has a bachelor’s degree in Slavic Area Studies and a M.A. in Public Affairs, both from UAH.  In 1992-93, she was an exchange student at Belarussian State University and completed a specialized Russian language course at Moscow State University in 1997.
Bonnie Petrunova, Deputy Minister of Culture, Bulgaria
Prof. Dr. Bonny Petrunova, Deputy Director of National Institute of Archeology with Museums – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NIAM-BAS) and Head of the Department of Medieval Archaeology was appointed Deputy Minister of Culture. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Petrunova has a master’s degree in history, Bulgarian language and literature, and archaeology from “St. Kliment Ohridski” Sofia University. She earned a Ph.D. in history in 1996 with a thesis entitled “Funerary Rituals on the Territory of Bulgaria from 15th to 17th century (based on data from Christian cemeteries)”. Dr. Petrunova has been affiliated with the Department of Medieval Archaeology of NIAM-BAS since 1988. She specializes in the study of sites of the Late Medieval archaeology. She was supervisor of the excavations of many late antique, medieval and late medieval archaeological sites in Bulgaria. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Petrunova is a longtime researcher of the Kaliakra fortress, “Lyutitsa” fortress near the town of Ivaylovgrad, Urvich fortress near the village of Kokalyane, and late antique fortress Peristera in the town of Peshtera. She is an author of many scholarly publications, including several monographs. She speaks Russian and French.
Lozanka Peycheva, Professor, Institute for Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, BAS
Prof. Dr. Lozanka Peycheva is a professor of ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IEFSEM-BAS), where she served as director from 2010-2014. She is the author of numerous scholarly books and articles on Bulgarian folk music and Roma music, and has lectured broadly in Europe and the US.  She is a member of Board of Trustees of the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts, Plovdiv (since 2014); a member of Council of Educational matters, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (since 2014); a member of National Expert Council of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture (since 2013), as well as many other organizations. Over the past three decades, she has regularly helped organize, chair and jury folk music and dance festivals all over the country.
Angela Rodel, Executive Director, Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission
Angela Rodel, Fulbright Education Director, is a two-time Fulbright Scholar recently appointed to head the Fulbright Commission in Bulgaria as the Education Director.  She has dedicated her life to Bulgarian music, language and culture – thanks to the Fulbright program.   In 1996, she came to study Bulgarian language and folk music at Sofia University, which gave her a solid grasp of Bulgarian language and culture, an experience which deeply informed her graduate studies in linguistics and ethnomusicology in the US. In 2004, she received a Fulbright-Hays fellowship to study Bulgarian folk music at the Academic of Music, Dance and Visual Arts in Plovdiv.  She is deeply connected with the Bulgarian folk music community and has connections with several well-known Bulgarian folk music groups.
Brian Stimmler, Public Affairs Officer, US Embassy
Brian Stimmler, Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Sofia, is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service. He previously served as Public Affairs Officer (Turkmenistan, 2012-2015); Press Attaché (Serbia, 2009-2012); Staff Assistant in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (Washington, 2008-2009); Vice Consul (Japan, 2006-2008); and Political Officer (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2004-2005). Before joining the Foreign Service, Brian worked as a Program Associate at the Open Society Institute in New York City and taught Russian language at Princeton University and Brigham Young University. He holds a B.A. in Russian from Brigham Young University and a joint Ph.D. in Slavic Linguistics and Theoretical Linguistics from Princeton University. Brian lives in Sofia with his wife and two daughters.
Ivan Vassilev, CEO, Balkan Heritage Foundation
Ivan Vassilev, Founder, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and CEO of the Balkan Heritage Foundation. Visiting Professor, CPCE, New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria. Member of the Advisory Board on Cultural Tourism of Municipality of Stara Zagora. MA in Archaeology, Sofia University, Bulgaria (Graduated 2000). Research interests: Medieval Balkan archaeology and history; Medieval studies; Architecture and arts of the Christian East; Field archaeology; Management of cultural heritage; Archaeology and ideologies/politics. Languages spoken: Bulgarian (mother tongue), English, German, Serbian, basic knowledge of Latin and Russian.