Kuralai Yermaganbetova, Astana

Senior Lecturer, Kazakh National University of Arts.

Kuralai has been a philosophy lecturer at the Akmola State Medical Academy and Gumilyov Eurasian National University, a supervisor and a representative of the Centre for Public Opinion Research in Astana and Akmola Oblast. 

She has participated in research projects, including The Anthropology of Morality:  Discourses and Practices in Modern Kazakhstan, and Actual Memory Practices: Conceptualisation of the Past and Construction of Identity in Modern Kazakhstan. Kuralai is the author of more than 30 research papers.

Zhanna Tulegenova, Almaty

Chair of the Board of the Almaty Development Centre.

  • From September 1998 to December 2005, Zhanna Tulegenova held various positions at Dulati Taraz State University (Deputy Dean for Science, lecturer, and internal ISO auditor). 
  • From 2006 to 2009 Zhanna was Head of Administration and Monitoring at the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 
  • From 2009 to 2014 she was Executive Director of Bolashak Association. 
  • From 2014 to 2015 Zhanna was Advisor to the First Deputy Chairman of Nur Otan Party. 
  • In 2015 she was appointed Advisor to the Chairman of the Board of the Almaty Development Centre. 
  • From 17 November 2015, she was Acting Chair of the Board of the Almaty Development Centre.
  • Since 18 January 2016 Zhanna has been carrying out the general management of the Almaty Development Centre. 

Abdujalil Abdurasulov, Almaty

Video journalist at BBC News.

Abdujalil Abdurasulov is a video journalist at BBC News. He covers news and current affairs in Central Asia and former Soviet Union. He also gets deployed to the Middle East, Europe, South and East Asia. Mr Abdurasulov has MSc in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 


Adil Nurmakov, Astana

Co-organiser of Urban Forum Almaty.

As a co-organiser of Urban Forum Almaty, Adil is responsible for strategic planning and analysis. Urban Forum Almaty is an ongoing city-wide platform for dialogue between citizens and city administration, which works in various dimensions, including research, advocacy, educational activities and support of grassroots urban initiatives. 

Trained as a political scientist, Adil holds a PhD degree. His research interests include civil society, citizen engagement and new media. He has authored numerous articles in local and international news and academic media. In 2000-2007 Adil worked as a political consultant in Russia and Kazakhstan, before starting the Competitiveness Research Centre, a think tank, as well as being an editor for a number of international media outlets. In 2011-16, he taught media and political communications in the International IT University and KIMEP University in Almaty.


Aidana Aituarova, Almaty

Executive Director of SmArt.Point.

Aidana Aituarova was born in Aktau, graduated from the secondary school in Atyrau. In 2012, she graduated from the Suleyman Demirel University, majoring in Finance. In her student years, she participated in the organisation of social and economic projects under the SIFE International Programme (Students In Free Enterprise). From 2011 to 2016, she worked in the Big Four (Ernst & Young and PwC).

SmArt.Point is a creative space with a new approach to management, offering original products and services: comfortable and technological offices, conference halls, Expo-zone for major events and live streams, amphitheatre for TED-format performances, meeting rooms and co-working zone, with online booking available. In addition, the organisation has an arts sector composed of: Transforma (centre for contemporary arts), ArtFuture (art platform and gallery), and an exhibition area of 800 square metres.


Aidar Zhakupov, Astana

General Director of Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation System.

He graduated from the N. Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School in 1989. From 1990 to 1995 he took up postgraduate study at the Ordzhonikidze Aviation Institute, obtaining a Candidate of Technical Science Degree in 1996. From 1999 till 2000 he took a Post-Doctoral internship at Stanford University. He began his career in 1998 at the National Atomic Company KazAtomProm, and from 2003 served as Senior Manager at the National Innovation Fund.

He has also served as Project Coordinator at the Almaty Branch of Kazakhmys PLC. He was the Managing Director and member of the Board of Directors of the PARASAT National Science and Technological Holding. From 2009 till 2010 he was Vice Minister for Education and Science. From 2011 till 2016 he was Managing Director of Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation System, with responsibility for innovation, science and business development.

Ainur Kanguzhina, Almaty

Director and co-founder of Experimentarium.

Ainur Kanguzhina was born in 1980 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In 2001, she graduated from the Abay Almaty State University, with a Diploma in Economics. In 2012, she completed a course in producing at the New York Film Academy in Moscow.

Ainur’s record of accomplishments includes successful projects in producing and distributing films, financing her business processes, and organising large events. From 2009 to 2013, she led, in cooperation with other partners, a project named Almaty Garage Sale, which was the first project of its kind in Almaty and Kazakhstan, providing a marketplace for craftspeople and designers. From 2011 to 2013, Ainur actively cooperated with the Department of Culture of Almaty within the scope of the project, and participated in the organisation of events for Almaty Day.

Since 2014, she is the director and co-founder of the Experimentarium project.

Aktoty Raimkulova, Astana

Vice-minister of Culture and Sport of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Forum Strategy Group Member.

Aktoty has been a Vice-Minister of Culture and Sport of the Republic of Kazakhstan since October 2016. Before the appointment, she was the Director of the Department for Culture and Arts and Acting Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Culture and Arts of the Ministry, vice-rector at the Kazakh National Conservatory named after Kurmangazy, teacher and concertmaster.

Aktoty is a composer, pianist and author of many musical compositions ("El baqyty", "Apple of Peace", cantatas "Kokzhal"), ballet "Aspanki", symphonic poems, plays, more than 300 songs, soundtracks for films and serials. The play “Alatau” written for Ensemble Continuum became a part of their New York concert "Music at the Crossroads". 

Aktoty is a member of ISCM (International Society of Contemporary Music) with offices in 50 countries and serves as secretary of its Kazakhstan branch.

Almaz Nurazkhan

Director of the Department of Cultural and Arts Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Almaz previously held posts of the Deputy Director of the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Director of the State Museum of Gold and Precious Metals, President of JSC “Foundation of the spiritual development of Kazakhstan people” and other senior management positions in cultural and educational institutions. He graduated from the Kazakh Institute of Law and International Relations with major in Law, Almaty Arts and Theatre Institute named after T. Zhurgenov and Abramtsevo College of Design and Applied Arts named after Vasnetsov in Moscow with major in Decorative and Applied Arts.

Almaz Nurazkhan speaks Kazakh, Russian, English and Turkish. He has received several state awards, including medals “25 Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan’ and “20 Anniversary of Kazakhstan Peoples’ Assembly”. 

Andrey Khazbulatov, Astana

General director of Kazakh Research Institute of Culture, Kazakhstan, Forum Strategy Group Member.

Kazakh Research Institute of Culture is a state organization implementing the Concept of the Cultural Policy of the RK, coordinating research in the fields of culture and arts, developing international cooperation and Kazakhstan’s integration into the global cultural space.

Before the appointment as the Director of the Research Institute in 2014, Andrey was a docent of Kazakh National Academy of Arts named after T. Zhurgenov, head of academic mobility and language training service and acting vice-rector for educational work and social issues. He was a lead for cultural policy development of the Republic of Kazakhstan approved by Presidential Decree. 

Andrey is a member of the National Research Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan and a member of the editorial board of the geopolitical magazine «IL Nododi Gordio» (Italy).