Board of Directors

Founder and President

Viktoria is an international entrepreneur and an expert in communications and private-sector development in emerging market countries. Her areas of expertise are in post-Soviet states, Europe, and Asia. She has extensive experience working on international development projects funded by multilateral donor organizations.

In 2006 she started and has been successfully managing a company in Kazakhstan, which exclusively sells the Dutch professional hair cosmetics brand KEUNE.

In 2010 she lost her husband, Gabriel Al-Salem, in a tragic accident. She started the Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation as a US public benefit corporation to continue Gabriel’s work in the fields of economic development and creating sustainable growth in emerging market countries.

Viktoria also serves on the Advisory Board of the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Kansas, where Gabriel received his Bachelor’s degree. She focuses on the School’s relations to international partners. She holds an MA in English from St. Petersburg State University as well as an MA from the Ohio State University and JD from Concord Law School.

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Foundation’s Treasurer

Gulsum is Chair of the Kazakhstan Chamber of Management Consultants (CMC Kazakhstan) and a Member of IMC USA. She is a management consultant with 25+ years of experience specializing in the area of strategic management, finance, restructuring, market research, and business planning.

Gulsum met Gabriel and Viktoria in early 90s in Kazakhstan, where they came to assist with the country’s economic reforms. Gulsum worked on projects funded by international donor agencies helping governments in Kazakhstan and all of Central Asia in accounting reform, privatization and private sector development, pension reform, higher education reform, and regional economic development. Gulsum also has extensive experience working with private businesses in Central Asia and other countries.

Gulsum is an active business trainer specializing in business ethics, core consultancy skills, financial and management accounting, auditing, and strategic and business planning.

Gulsum serves as Chair of the International Committee judging applications for the annual International Award for Excellence in Consulting “Consulting without Borders,” which has been run by the Foundation since 2011.

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Foundation’s Secretary

As a Professor of Slavic Languages and Director of the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures at the University of Kansas, Marc oversees five departments and forty languages taught at Gabriel Al-Salem’s alma mater, where he began his study of Russian. Marc and Gabriel corresponded in the early 2000s, when Marc was chair of the Slavic Department and Gabriel was working for EBRD. Gabriel had planned to come back to KU to pass on his enthusiasm and insights to current students hoping to work internationally, which work Marc now continues by developing educational programming for KU students in partnership with the Foundation.

Marc holds a PhD from UCLA in Slavic linguistics and has published numerous books and articles on historical Slavic linguistics and sociolinguistics. He has held several administrative roles at the University of Kansas and has been awarded fellowships from Fulbright, ACLS, IREX, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His languages of concentration include Albanian, Croatian, Czech, Russian, and Slovene.

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Zhanibek Suleimenov, Gabriel’s long-standing colleague and friend, is one of the initiators of the Award for Excellence in Consulting and the Conference “Consulting without Borders.” He was instrumental in launching the first Award and organizing the first Conference in Kazakhstan. 

Zhanibek has made substantial impact on the development of business advisory services sector in Kazakhstan while managing the largest Business Advisory Services (currently Small Business Support) operation of the EBRD, which implemented over three hundred market development activities and facilitated over one thousand consulting projects. He has 20 years of international experience in management consulting and small & medium enterprise development.

Zhanibek joined Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2014 and has been focusing on donor relations.

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Stephen Tupper has a background in finance, taxation and law: he has worked as a consultant for almost thirty years, performing assignments for major donors and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, EBRD, ADB, European Union and USAID. His consultancy work is closely linked to development of a positive entrepreneurial environment with a concentration on fiscal and regulatory issues, but he has also managed projects and programs related to poverty reduction. These have been located in most states of the former USSR, as well as China and South East Asia.

Apart from these professional activities, Stephen has an ongoing interest in social enterprise and also in work with non-commercial bodies and NGOs. He recently assisted a UK-based charity in its localisation program in Russia and sits on the Board of Trustees as adviser to the Russian localised charity, advising on fund-raising and other sustainability issues.

Stephen joined Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2015 and is focusing on fund-raising.

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