Bi-National Commission for the Preservation of Bulgaria’s Cultural Heritage

Commission for the Protection of Cultural Heritage

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 is 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. In 2016, the commission organized a conference entitled “Museum Exhibits and Standards: A Look Ahead”, which gathered leading US and Bulgarian experts in cultural heritage and museum studies to discuss contemporary tendencies in museum exhibition, 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. As a follow up to this conference, the commission organized two museum education seminars with US-trained experts in November 2017 in Sofia and Varna. In cooperation with Plovdiv Municipality and My Museum Foundation, the commission offered a series of seminars to Plovdiv-area museums throughout 2018 in preparation for Plovdiv 2019 – European Capital of Culture.

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


Ivan Vassilev, CEO, Balkan Heritage Foundation, Chairman of the Bi-National Commission
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.
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.
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.
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.Lenko Grigorov, Architect, Independent Expert
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.
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.
Todor Petev, CEO, My Museum Foundation
Todor Petev is an art historian and educator. He has a teaching experience with progressive education methods in formal and informal setting. Todor has worked at several American museums. He is co-founder of the My Museum Foundation, whose mission is to help Bulgarian museums fulfill their educational and social potential. Currently, he is assistant professor at the Faculty of Primary and Pre-school Education of the Sofia University.

Former members of the Bi-National Commission:

  • Irena Gueorgieva, former Deputy Minister of Tourism
  • Bonnie Petrunova, former Deputy Minister of Culture
  • Brian Stimmler, former Public Affairs Officer, US Embassy
  • Mathew Hagengruber, former Cultural and Educational Attache, US Embassy
  • Tammy Paltchikov, former Cultural Attaché, US Embassy Sofia
  • Ekaterina Dzhumalieva, Directorate for Cultural Heritage, Museums and Visual Arts, Ministry of Culture
  • Stefan Belishki, former president of ICOMOS Bulgaria
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