American University of Central Asia - AUCA - Board of Trustees




DAVID LAKHDHIR has, for the past 30 years, been a partner in the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.  Since 2002, he has been one of the partners in charge of the firm’s office in London, and from 1993-97 he was partner-in-charge of its office in Tokyo. He has particular expertise in cross-border corporate acquisitions, investments, and joint ventures, including in the financial, media, semiconductor, power, and electronics sectors. 

Mr. Lakhdhir also serves as a Director of Human Rights Watch, Inc. and is the Chair of its Asia Advisory Committee and Co-Chair of its London Committee. 

An honors graduate of both Harvard College, and Harvard Law School, he served as a Teaching Fellow in the Government Department and as a Law Tutor at Harvard, and after graduation, spent a year as a Visiting Scholar at the Indian Law Institute in New Delhi. 

Mr. Lakhdhir was also the Chair of the International Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York from 1999 to 2001 and has served on a number of other commissions and study groups.



Jonathan Becker is Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Bard College as well as the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Professor of Political Studies. He also serves as Vice Chancellor of the Open Society University Network. Through Bard, Dr. Becker provides support to several of Bard’s international partner universities including Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences/ Smolny College (St. Petersburg, Russia), Al-Quds University (Palestine), and AUCA, where he has served on the board since 2008.

He is the author of Soviet and Russian Press Coverage of the United States: Press, Politics and Identity in Transition (1999, 2002) and articles and chapters in a variety of publications, including the European Journal of Communication, Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly, and the Globalist, among others. 

Previously, he served as Assistant Vice President of the Central European University in Budapest and the European Director of the Civic Education Project. He has also served as co-chair of the Higher Education Group of the US/Russian Civil Society Partnership Program and as a consultant to the National Intelligence Council on its Global Trends 2020 project. 

Dr. Becker earned his BA from McGill University and his D. Phil from St. Antony’s College, Oxford.



AIJAN CHYNYBAEVA has over 15 years of business career and international exposure.

Mrs. Chynybaeva is the member and former President of the Rotary Club of Bishkek charitable organization (2007), a member of the Non-governmental Organization Women’s Forum “Kurak” (2011), and the Chairman of the Public Association of Women of Kyrgyzstan “Kurak” (2017). She actively promotes positive thinking and motivation as well as supports youth startup projects as a member of the Council of the Association of Social Entrepreneurship, a mentor of the ASP School, mentor and trainer of the “I Invest in Kyrgyzstan” Republican Youth Project, and the initiator of the movement “Taza Issyk-Kul”.

Mrs. Chynybaeva is also the founder of the Eco-Demi Public Fund which has carried out the most global cleaning campaigns throughout the country since 2015. She serves as the Ambassador of the international movement “Let’s Do it World” in Kyrgyzstan when Mrs. Chynybaeva became representative of the International Organization “Let’s Do it World” in Central Asia in 2021. And she also holds membership in other local and international organizations, including

  • 2016 - 2020 Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Norway in the Kyrgyz Republic
  • 2017 - 2020 President of the Consuls Club of the Kyrgyz Republic
  • 2018 - Ambassador of Woman Expo Kazakhstan
  • 2020-2021 Vice Mayor of Bishkek for Social Development

In April 2019, Mrs. Chynybaeva was awarded the Excellent Leadership Award and recognized as an example of outstanding leadership at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi, India. In 2019, she received the state award from Prime Minister Mr. Abylgaziev for her contributions to women empowerment in business and received an appreciation letter for creating and supplying with medicine local hospitals fighting against COVID-19. Under the leadership of Mrs. Chynybaeva Kyrgyzstan was announced as the winner (1st place) of the World Clean Up day among 150 countries. She has served on the board of AUCA since 2012.




ALMAS CHUKIN is a Partner at Visor Kazakhstan, one of Central Asia’s largest private equity investment companies. Mr. Chukin has extensive experience in banking and investment, working in executive positions at Halyk Bank, Compass Asset Management, and Kazyna Capital ManagementOver the recent years, he was supervising Visor’s investments in various sectors of the economy – telecoms, pharma, retail, and lately with concentration mostly on renewable energy development. Before moving to the private sector in 1997, he held senior positions in the Ministry of Economy and Finance and served as the Charge d’Affaires at the Kyrgyz Embassy in the United States. 

He started his career as an Associate Professor of political economy at Kyrgyz State University after completing undergraduate and post-graduate studies at Moscow State University. 

Mr. Chukin has served on the AUCA board of trustees since its inception in 1998 when the Kyrgyz-American Department of the National University was transformed into the independent American University in Kyrgyzstan and later the American University of Central Asia. He is a key supporter of AUCA’s campus development project.



ASSET ABDUALIYEV is an international management consultant. He worked as an advisor to Almaty’s mayor on innovation and urban development. He identified and supported over 200 innovative projects and startups as part of Central Asia’s first “smart city” project.

He also coordinated the launch and design of five major public spaces in Almaty. Previously, he held leadership roles with the organizing committee of the 2017 Almaty Winter Universiade.

Mr. Abdualiyev graduated with an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and an MSc in Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business.



GRAHAM O’DONOGHUE is an entrepreneur and lawyer with experience in government, commercial and public law, logistics operations, and commodities trading. From 2013 to 2015, he served as President and CEO for Mina Group and was responsible for all global operations. Previously, he has served as a lawyer and consultant advising multi-national companies, family offices, emerging enterprises, and entrepreneurs across a broad range of industry sectors and geographies. He has also served as a board director and officer for portfolio companies of his venture capital clients, operating in a range of industries from telecommunications security to luxury goods and commodities trading. 

Previously, Mr. O’Donoghue was an attorney at the New York law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, where he specialized in complex commercial litigation and transnational disputes.

From 2007 to 2009, he served in The White House as Associate Counsel to the President of the United States and, previously, Deputy Associate Counsel. In that capacity, Mr. O’Donoghue represented the White House in numerous investigations and other sensitive matters before the U.S. Congress and other federal government agencies. He also provided legal counsel to the White House staff on a range of matters.

He served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Mr. O’Donoghue holds a law degree from Columbia Law School and a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Harvard University.

Mr. O’Donoghue also sits on the board of the New Generation Academy at the American University of Central Asia, which offers promising high school graduates from Central Asia the opportunity to prepare for university admission through an intensive one-year curriculum.



KRISTINA SARACHAKOVA is an investor and co-founder of Friday Properties with experience in investing. She is a knowledgeable specialist in the banking sector who worked at HSBC Bank Kazakhstan for seven years. She is also a teacher of Economics and Business at international schools in Bishkek as her personal contribution to the development of a younger generation.

Mrs. Sarachakova received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the American University of Central Asia (2005), Kyrgyzstan, and an MBA degree from Moscow State University, Russia. She also services the ProKG Professionals Association in Kyrgyzstan to support education in the country. She is a mom of three girls and actively promotes women's rights protection.



LEONARD BENARDO is Executive Vice President of the Open Society Foundations. He was formerly regional director for Eurasia and Director of the Open Society Fellowship.

Mr. Benardo began his work with the Open Society Foundations at the Soros Foundation Moscow. At the time, he was researching a dissertation on why new Russian trade unions were not enacting new representative organs, but rather reproducing former welfare-distributive bodies familiar to the former USSR. American political science in the mid-1990 was, in equal parts, moving further toward behavioral rationality and economic models and away from questions of culture and ideology. He leaped at the opportunity to work for the Foundation full-time. 

Mr. Benardo soon took over the full Russia portfolio at Open Society and extended his responsibilities to include Central and Eastern Europe. His brief required extensive grantmaking, oversight of the myriad foundations in the region, and general strategic advice and counsel on the Foundation’s activities. 

In 2008, with a concern of complacency setting in at the Foundation, Mr. Benardo proposed the creation of a Fellowship program that would identify persons working on areas that might be orthogonal to, or contrary from, the Foundation’s cherished conceits. The program identified individuals whose thinking added dynamism and critical edge sorely needed at OSF. Mr. Benardo was the founding director of the Open Society Fellowship program, which expanded in 2016 to include three additional initiatives focused on individuals.

In the autumn of 2017, Mr. Benardo became Vice President of OSF and was made Executive Vice President earlier this year. In his current role, Benardo oversees the vast range of geographic programming at the Foundation, participates in its broader strategic and intellectual trajectory, and helps manage the complex institution. Additionally, he has helped spearhead the development of programming for the new Open Society University Network and looks after its financial health.

Mr. Benardo sits on the boards of Bard College, the American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, and the European Humanities University, Lithuania.

Mr. Benardo holds a BA in history from the University of Michigan and a graduate degree in political science from Columbia University. His writing has appeared, among other places, in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the International Herald Tribune, and Bookforum. He is the co-author of two books: Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names, and Citizen-in-Chief: The Second Lives of the American Presidents. Benardo also writes frequently with his great friend Ivan Krastev.



LIVIU MATEI is the Provost of Central European University and a Professor of Higher Education Policy. He taught at universities in Europe and the U.S., consulted extensively in the area of higher education policy, and conducted applied policy research projects for the World Bank, UNESCO, OSCE, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and other international organizations (intergovernmental and non-governmental), national authorities and universities from Europe and Asia. 

Mr. Matei is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Central Asia and serves on the editorial boards of the Internationalisation of Higher Education Journal and the European Journal of Higher Education. He studied philosophy and psychology at Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj, and Sociology of Higher Education at Bucharest University, Romania. He received his Ph.D. from the latter. He benefited from fellowships at the Institut Supérieur de Formation Sociale et de Communication, Bruxelles, The New School for Social Research, Université Paris X Nanterre, Université de Savoie, the Salzburg Seminar and the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme.

His primary areas of expertise include university governance, funding, internationalization of higher education, academic freedom and university autonomy, quality assurance. He is the founder of the Global Observatory on Academic Freedom.




NAZIRA BEISHENALIEVA the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of CJSC "Bank of Asia," where she oversees the activities of the Board in the formation of bank policy and the execution of bank strategy. Previously, Mrs. Beishenalieva was a Chairperson of Bishkek Business Club, a business association that promotes and supports the interests of small and medium businesses in the country. In addition, she was President of the Rotary Club of Bishkek for the 2013-2014 term and was responsible for various charity projects of the club. For the last seven years, Mrs. Beishenalieva has engaged in educational, cultural, and social charity projects of the country. 

In 2013, she received awards from the Mayor of the City of Bishkek and the Ministry of Social Protection for her contributions to social and economic life. Mrs. Beishenalieva holds a BA in Journalism and Public Relations from the American University of Central Asia (1998), a degree in Accounting, Analysis, and Audit from Moscow Institute of Entrepreneurship and Law, Bishkek Branch (2004), and a Degree in Law from the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (2005). She also graduated from the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School (2014).



SCOTT HORTON is the director of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, president of the International League for Human Rights, chair of the U.S.-China Education Foundation, director of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, and a trustee of AUCA. 

Mr. Horton has been a partner of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP since 1990. He also works as an adjunct law faculty at Columbia Law School. Mr. Horton has served on the AUCA board since 1999.



STANISLAV KARPOVICH was in the first graduating class of AUCA in 1997. Since then, he has excelled in business as a top manager in several consulting and investment companies. Currently, he is the General Director of Silk Road Investments and Deputy Managing Director, FNT Consultants.

Mr. Karpovich is the Chairman of the Board of Enactus Kyrgyzstan (, as well as the Past-President of the Rotary Club of Bishkek ( He has served on the board of AUCA since 2004.

American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028
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