Moderated by Lisa Ackerman, Visiting Assistant Professor, Pratt Historic Preservation Program.

Featuring Dr. George Abungu, Emeritus Director, General National Museums of Kenya and Retired Professor of Heritage Studies, University of Mauritius; Nuha Ansari, Independent Heritage Professional, previously Project Officer, Aga Khan Trust for Culture; Rand Eppich, Director Rand Eppich Cultural Heritage & Architectural Conservation; Dr. Gaetano Palumbo, Scientific Program Manager at UCL Qatar; Anna Paolini, Director, UNESCO Regional Office Doha and UNESCO Representative, Arab States of the Gulf and Yemen.

No single panel can cover all topics in the field, nor all the countries across the globe. Fortunately those joining the Pratt community for this panel have a broad range of experiences and have consistently tackled emerging issues in the field. They also reflect the way much of the work of the field happens with an effective combination of the power of official institutional engagement and the nimble approach of independent scholars, researchers, and heritage conservation practitioners. Our speakers will provide insights into project development, documentation techniques, decolonization of heritage management, as well as protecting heritage in active conflict zones, and the effects of COVID on those working in the heritage conservation field.



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Lisa Ackerman currently serves as Executive Director of Columbus Citizens Foundation, an organization devoted to Italian American heritage. Lisa Ackerman previously served as Interim CEO of World Monuments Fund in 2018 and 2019, where she served from 2007 to 2018 as Executive Vice President, developing international collaborative projects in heritage conservation. During that time, she oversaw approximately 100 projects in 60 countries. Through her teaching at Pratt, she is able to offer students an intimate view of work in the field, as well as explain the framework established by UNESCO, ICOMOS, and other intergovernmental agencies in carrying out these activities.

Dr. George O. Abungu Founding Director and Lead Consultant Okello Abungu Heritage Consultants George Henry Okello Abungu is a Cambridge-trained archaeologist and former Director-General of the National Museums of Kenya. He is the founding Chairman of Africa 2009, ISCOTIA (the International Standing Committee on the Traffic in Illicit Antiquities), and CHDA, the Centre for Heritage Development in Africa among others. Prof. Abungu has been a guest scholar at the Getty Conservation Institute and Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, and a visiting professor in numerous Universities worldwide. He is a recipient of the “Ife Prize in Museology” 2007, Congo Brazzaville; Distinction of “Passeur du Patrimone by Ecole du Patrimoine Africain 2009, Benin; Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art 2012, ARCA Italy and USA; Chevalier de l’Order de Arts et des Lettres 2012 France; African World Heritage Fund Award 2016 South Africa; and Ordre National Du Lion Chevalier, Senegal 2018. Prof. Abungu has numerous publications in the disciplines of archaeology, heritage management, museology, culture and development, heritage and tourism and heritage and sustainable development. He has been an advisor to the Aluka project of the Mellon Foundation USA, the Global Heritage Fund USA, Vice President of International Council of Museums (ICOM), and a Member of the International Jury of the UNESCO Melina Mecouri International Prize for Safeguard and Management of Cultural Landscapes. He is a member of the International Experts of the Humboldt Forum, Berlin, Germany He has sat on the World Monuments Watch panel of the World Monument Fund, New York and was Kenya’s Representative to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and Vice-President of its Bureau (2004-2008). He is a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Stellenbosch South Africa and was Elizabeth Eddy Professor of Applied Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. He is the immediate former and founding Professor of Heritage Studies, at the University of Mauritius. Currently he serves as a Special Advisor to the Director General of ICCROM, Rome.

Nuha Ansari is a writer and preservationist whose work focuses on the architecture and cultural heritage of the Islamicate world. Nuha has worked at the World Monuments Fund and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and has conducted preservation fieldwork in such places as Pakistan and Yemen. Her publications include Karachi: Edge of Empire, a study of British colonial architecture, and she is currently working on a book about the architecture of the Islamic world, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2021.

Rand Eppich, is a conservation architect, researcher, and management consultant. He believes that the protection of our natural and built historic environment is essential because it has a profound impact on the quality of our lives and shapes our identities. He has spent the last 35 years working to protect cultural heritage on projects ranging from conservation and adaptive reuse to management plans and documentation. Rand has worked most recently in Suriname, Georgia, Pakistan, and Uganda and is currently serving as an Architect and Deputy Team Leader for the Management Plan of Stone Town, Zanzibar (with ARS Projetti), and as Team Leader for the conservation of the Castle of Gjirokastra in Albania (with Cultural Heritage without Borders). His work includes assignments for the World Bank, UNDP, OSCE, EU, European Regional Development Fund, Inter-American Development Bank, the World Monuments Fund, and the Global Heritage Fund. He holds a Bachelor’s in Architecture with a specialization in historic preservation, a Master ́s in Architecture + Urban Design and an MBA from UCLA. He also holds a Ph.D. on social-economic  development utilizing cultural heritage from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Rand spent 13 years at the Getty Conservation Institute as Senior Project Manager of the Documentation Lab and has lectured at the British Museum, the University of Navarra, Penn, KU Leuven, the American University RAK, ATHAR, ICCROM, UCLA, and METU. He is a member of Europa Nostra, ICOMOS, Docomomo, and CIPA.

Dr. Gaetano Palumbo is Head of UCL-Qatar’s research in Morocco, and a specialist in conservation and site management planning. The project in Morocco is investigating Early Islamic settlement in the region between Tanger and Asilah, as well as contributing to the Archaeological Map of Morocco, with a program to survey an area of approximately 500 square kilometers on the western side of the Tingitan peninsula. Gaetano Palumbo has a Master and a PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, and was Senior Lecturer at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, coordinating the course on Managing Archaeological Sites. He was also Program Director at the World Monuments Fund and Project Specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute. He has consulted for various organizations, including ICCROM, ICOMOS, UNESCO and the World Bank, as well as national institutions in the Middle East on projects concerning the conservation and management planning of archaeological sites. He has directed two archaeological projects (Wadi el Yabis and Wadi az-Zarqa survey) and numerous salvage surveys and excavations in Jordan.

Anna Paolini holds Master’s degrees in Architecture (1989) and in Urban and Regional Planning for Developing Countries (1991) from the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (University Institute of Architecture of Venice), Italy, a post-graduate degree on Development Cooperation (1990) from the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Trieste, as well as a Ph.D in Urban and Territorial Engineering (1995) from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Bologna, Italy. Ms. Paolini has also carried out post-doctoral studies as a Research Affiliate at the Centre for Near East Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (1999). In November 1992, Ms. Paolini joined UNESCO initially as an Associate Expert with the UNESCO Office in Amman, and later transferred to the Division of Cultural Heritage within the Culture sector (CLT/CH) at UNESCO Headquarters. Between 2006 and 2007, Ms. Paolini worked with the Section for Museum and Cultural Objects with the Culture Sector, tasked with operational as well as capacity building activities, including training in cooperation with the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM).From 2007 – 2009, Ms. Paolini headed the UNESCO Offices in Tashkent and assumed the responsibilities of the Organization’s Representative to Uzbekistan. In 2009 she was appointed as the Head of Office and UNESCO Representative in Amman with overall responsibilities over Science, Education, Culture and Communications and Information programs. Ms. Paolini is a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Italian Association of Professional Architects.