Peggy Loar is a museum professional with global experience in museum planning and program development, museum architecture and design, and museum leadership. She currently serves as President of International Museum Planning Consultants, a boutique advisory services firm. Prior to this role, she was the interim Vice President for Global Arts and Culture and Director of the Asia Society Museum in New York City (2014–2015) and the interim President and Director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C. where she facilitated the merger of the Corcoran with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University (2013–2014).
From 2008 to 2013 she served as the founding Director of the new National Museum of Qatar, in Doha, designed by Jean Nouvel, where she brought 30 years of experience in museum planning and management, exhibition design and educational programming to the Qatar Museums Authority.
Prior to this, she served as Director of the Museum Studio at Voorsanger Architects P.C. in New York City. She is the founding President and Director of two American institutions, The Wolfsonian Museum and Research Center in Miami, Florida, and Genoa, Italy; and COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, California, where she was later named President Emerita.
Prior to these positions, Ms. Loar was Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) for 9 years where she developed the program to over 100 exhibitions for annual circulation nationally and internationally. She was awarded the Smithsonian Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, previously given to only eight individuals in the history of the Institution. Ms. Loar also served as the first Program Director of the Institute of Museum Services (now IMLS) – the Federal funding agency for American museums, and as Curator of Education and Assistant Director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
For eight years she served as President of US ICOM (International Committee of Museums) headquartered with UNESCO in Paris, where she received recognition for her outstanding leadership and invaluable service to the international museum profession. She is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, and an Arts Leadership Certificate from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Sandra Bell Wilkins has been creating clothing for profit since the age of nine. Fashion design was deemed a creative and lucrative hobby for a young woman, but everyone thought that music would provide a respectable future and it was music that provided a scholarship to University. When Sandra applied and ultimately arrived at University there was no question in her mind that Fashion was her ultimate passion.
After graduation from VCU in 1968, she freelanced in LA and worked as a sales manager for Bullock’s of Southern California to pay the bills. In 1977 she returned to her alma mater as a full-time graduate and teaching assistant in the Theatre Department and in 1978b became a full-time instructor in the Department of Fashion, promoted to assistant professor in 1985 and tenured professor in 1992.
In 1990, Ms. Wilkins ended her part-time pursuits of an MFA in Costume Design with only 8 credits and a thesis in the way of completion but vowed to resume her studies in the not so distant future.
In 1992 she was named interim chair of the VCU Fashion Department and remained in that position until 1996. It was that same year that Sandra traveled to Zimbabwe on a USAID grant to teach, consult and develop Fashion Programs for technical schools in Southern Africa, and in the fall semester of 1999 traveled to Qatar to head the Fashion program in the Shaqab College of Design Arts.
In 2002 Shaqab College officially became VCUQatar and in 2005, Sandra became the Chair of the Fashion Department.
Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad is an academic who has occupied numerous positions in teaching, administration, and research for over three decades. She assumed the presidency of Qatar University from 2003 until 2015. Before assuming the presidency, she served the university as Vice President for Research and Community Development (2000–2003), Head of the Department of Foundations of Education (1992–1995), and as a member of the University Council (1986–1989; 1998–2004).
Al-Misnad received her undergraduate training at Qatar University, where she attained a Bachelor of Education in 1977, and subsequently a postgraduate diploma in Education in 1978. She went on to enroll in doctoral studies at Durham University in the United Kingdom, where she was awarded the title of Doctor of Philosophy in Education in 1984. Al-Misnad has been at the forefront of Qatar’s educational reform movement since the past decade. In 2003, she was enlisted to head a reform project to develop Qatar University into one of the leading higher education institutes in the region. Aside from Qatar University, she has also been involved in implementing reforms to the country’s primary, secondary and private education system.
A member of Qatar Foundation’s board of directors since 1999, she has played a significant role in the governance of several of the educational institutes which constitute Education City, most notably Qatar Academy and The Learning Center. She is a former member of the Board of Governors of both institutes. Al-Misnad is regarded as one of the most active members of the Supreme Education Council’s project to develop a modern education system in which the independent schools are privately operated but publicly financed.
Ashraf Abu-Issa is a Qatari businessman and the Chairman of Abuissa Holding. He was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2011. He serves on the Board as Endowment Manager of PCRF, a children’s relief organization, and is the co-founder of INJAZ Qatar, a non-profit organization aimed at inspiring youth to succeed in the global economy.
Abu Issa Holding (AIH) is one of the leading business groups in the Middle East based in Doha, Qatar. The company is built over a span of three decades and represents the region’s most diversified and progressive groups. Abu Issa Holding controls and operates market-leading companies across the Middle East region in various sectors including retail, distribution, telecommunications, IT, energy & engineering, construction support services, investment, real estate, and other marketing operations.
Abu-Issa received his Bachelor of Arts from American College in Atlanta, Georgia. He then went on to complete the Owner President Management Program (OPM) at Harvard’s Business School. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award 2019 by the Swiss Business Council Qatar; The Businessman of the year award 2016 by E&Y Arabian business magazine; and the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2011.
Artist & Photographer
Abeer Al-Kuwari is a multidisciplinary visual artist who emerged in the field of photography. She is the first female member of Qatar photography society. She has been awarded many certificates and won numerous awards in photography. Her primary focus is on portrait photography and still life, and has numerous years of experience in black and white filming. She employs both traditional film techniques, as well as using digital photography.
Her practice encompasses Drawing, Sculpture, and Photography. Her style depends on careful study and her interest lies in studying Qatar’s heritage, society, and the nation’s environment. She particularly focuses on Qatari women and Qatari fashion through a historical lens. She both documents the various stages that Qatari fashion has experienced, as well as analyzing its modern contemporary forms.
Starting in 2016, she participated within the renowned and prestigious Fire Station Residence program, part of Qatar Museums, in Qatar.
Photographer & Filmmaker
Sara Al Obaidly (b.1987; Doha, Qatar) is a photographer and filmmaker of Qatari-British heritage, living and working between London and Doha. Growing up in the United Kingdom, Al Obaidly received an MA in Sustainable Design and a BA in Textiles Design from the University of Brighton; completing an Art and Design Foundation at Ravensbourne University.
Al Obaidly has been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries including FFotogallery, Cardiff (2019), Dar Museum, Kuwait City (2019), Manege, St Petersburg (2018), Kraftwerk, Berlin (2017), National Portrait Gallery, London (2016 & 2014), Museum of Islamic Art Park, Doha (2015) and AlRiwaq, Doha (2014). Her work has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Italia, Creative Review Photography Annual, Le Monde and on TIME’s ‘LightBox’ in ‘22 of this year’s best portraits 2014.
In 2019 she received the ‘Artist of the Year Award’ from Grazia Arabia, and has also been recognized with an honorary mention in the Life Framer Awards under the theme ‘Youthhood’ in 2016. Al Obaidly has been awarded art residencies at the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York, USA (2019) and the Doha Fire Station, Qatar (2015); as well as receiving training from the prestigious French film school La Femis, Paris (2016).
Author & Photographer
Robert Landau is best known for his work photographing unique aspects of the Los Angeles urban landscape. Born and raised in L.A., Landau began shooting his native city as a teenager in the 1960s when he documented the ephemeral hand-painted rock and roll billboards that lined the Sunset Strip at that time. He continued this work on into the early 1980s and the resulting collection of images has recently been published in the best-selling and critically acclaimed book “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip” (Angel City Press). A traveling exhibition of images from the book is being circulated to museums by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions (PTE) and a film documentary on the subject is currently in the works.
Landau, who graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 1976, has now published six books related to photography and popular culture. Along with the Sunset Strip billboards Robert has been photographing unique elements of the Los Angeles cityscape continuously for close to 50 years and is compiling a new book that will span and showcase the work.
Robert also works as a photojournalist on travel/editorial related assignments, often collaborating with renowned travel expert Peter Greenberg. He has provided still photo coverage for several episodes of Peter’s PBS series “The Royal Tour”, following Kings, Presidents, and Prime Ministers as they conduct personal tours of their home countries. Subjects have included King Abdullah ll of Jordan, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand and others. Landau has also spent a great deal of time in Turkey and images from these travels as well as others from his now extensive travel archives have been widely published and are represented in the prestigious Getty Images collection and can also be found at Alamy.com.
Founder, Passion Passport
Zach Houghton is the son of a travel-writing father and a wanderlust mother who met on a bus in Guatemala. He is the founder of Passion Passport, a startup that provides inspirational and purpose-driven travel storytelling, develops photo and video content, and designs experiential campaigns for brands and tourism boards. In his work at Passion Passport, Zach has developed full-scale creative campaigns with brands such as Amtrak, Cathay Pacific, Adobe, Expedia, Southwest, and Hyatt.
In his first career, Zach worked as a commodities trader in Hong Kong. During this time, he explored different parts of Australasia while managing key relationships with clients in the metals industry. He oversaw his firm’s operations in Taiwan, India, and parts of mainland China, developing multi-million dollar contracts.
Zach attended Columbia University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a specialization in foreign languages. During his time at Columbia, he was also captain of the swim team. Over the course of his career, he competed at the Canadian Olympic Trials in swimming on three separate occasions.
In his years of travels, Zach has always sought to immerse himself through one of the five languages he speaks. His photography work has been featured in international publications and media.
Malak has a lifelong interest in the creative arts including both fashion design and interior design. She is also interested in the role of the arts in facilitating cultural diplomacy. Even though she was born and raised in Qatar, she has traveled and lived internationally. Because of her travels, she has developed a passion for cultural exchange and the cultivation of mutual respect among countries.
Malak is currently working on a cultural exchange exhibition between Qatar and the United States. The exhibition focuses on the heritages of Texas and Doha. It is a collaboration between the University of Houston, the General Consulate of Qatar in Houston and the Qatar-America Institute. Future exhibitions will be pursued and will feature a variety of locations.
Malak’s creative experience has included several projects. She received the 2008 VCUQ Golden Needle Award for her work with women’s clothing design. She also worked extensively with Qatar Luxury Group in the development and production stages of the Qatar luxury brand QELA. Under the direct supervision of French fashion designer Stephane Rolland, she designed and constructed prototype patterns for several products including leather goods and shoes. Additionally, she collaborated with French and Italian manufacturers for exclusivity in production.
Malak received her undergraduate degree from Virginia Common Wealth University in Qatar with a double major in Fashion and Interior Design. Currently, she is completing her Master of Arts in Arts Leadership at the University of Houston. This program emphasizes multiple aspects of arts management including strategic planning, legal considerations, fundraising, and alternative business models including entrepreneurial and nonprofit.
Fatima leads the institute’s efforts to further strengthen cultural understanding, dialogue, and appreciation between her home country, Qatar, and the United States. Her scope of work focuses on strategic planning and development, outreach, and fundraising to grow the organization, and create long-term cultural partnerships between the two countries. She also leverages her wide-ranging knowledge of Qatari culture, Arabic fluency, and decade experience of cultural exchange to advance QAI’s research, programming, and communication initiatives.
Fatima’s academic and professional background is in international relations, communications, and human development. Her academic and professional research expertise focuses on topics at the intersection of culture and technology, such as oral history and socioeconomics of pre-oil Qatar, virtual tribal identity in the Gulf, public policy & youth sentiment towards U.S.-Middle East affairs, ICTs in sports, interactive fashion design, and cyberterrorism discourse analysis.
Fatima’s previous work experience include strategizing and managing various digital properties for international organizations in the media industry and UN agencies. She also consulted for several governmental organizations, academic institutions, and corporations both in Qatar and the U.S. focusing on strategic communication, data analysis, and policy on topics such as human rights and corporate social responsibility (CSR), particularly in relation to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Fatima was awarded an M.A. from Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT) Program and received her B.A. in International Affairs and Human Development from Qatar University. She’s currently enrolled in an Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania.
US-Qatar relations, Communications Strategies, International Development, Cultural Affairs