ArteEast is led by a dedicated board that brings a range of professional expertise to the organization, including nonprofit, arts, banking, business management, marketing and law.

Board of Directors

Hazem Gamal, President
Born in Cairo to an Egyptian father and American mother, Hazem spent the majority of his youth between Cairo and Beirut.  Frequent travel early on inspired undergraduate studies in hotel management which took him across the US, China and Europe for the first decade of his career.  An MBA from Thunderbird, The International School of Graduate Studies, in Phoenix helped him leverage his international living and work experience towards a new career in the financial services industry initially with American Express then for more than 15 years with OppenheimerFunds in various roles in New York.Hazem brings a broad interest in the arts and his deep organizational skills to the board of ArtEast where he hopes to share his experiences and interests to help continue the program’s reach and growth.
Mayssam Latif, Vice President

Mayssam Latif is a cultural affairs advisor based in New York. She currently works in the field of public diplomacy where she creates diverse programming through arts and culture, philanthropy, education and trade that foster understanding and appreciation of different cultures. Mayssam has over 10 years experience working in the cross-cultural and community arts development sector in the U.S., U.A.E. and Australia. Mayssam received her M.A. in Art Management from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

Daniel Hamparsumyan, Secretary

A second-generation art dealer, Daniel Hamparsumyan has been developing a private, institutional and corporate client base in the U.S. and overseas since the early 1990s.

Thanks to his established record of understanding collectors’ expectations and his problem-solving approach to all aspects of a rapidly changing global art market, he has nurtured and guided an affluent international client base in both the primary and secondary art markets. His focus has ranged from modern to contemporary art.

Prior to joining Leila Heller Gallery as Director in 2012 – was named Executive Director in 2017- Daniel held his first position as Assistant Director at Galerie Framond in Paris, was the Director of the Helen Drutt Gallery and then Loved Fine Arts in New York. During that time span, he steadily cultivated trustworthy relationships with private collectors, museum directors, curators, critics, dealers, art advisors, and designers. He also worked with Leila Heller from the mid to the late 1990s – dealing privately in blue-chip 20th century and contemporary art – and managed Hamparsumyan Fine Art, his own art advisory firm in collaboration with his family-owned gallery in Paris.

In parallel to overseeing all aspects of a compelling exhibition program – expanding LHG international presence thanks to the opening of the largest exhibition space in the Middle East (14,000. square feet in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue, UAE, November 2015, cf. visuals below) – Daniel’s focal point remained the growth of artists’ careers. Artists who regularly participated in international museum exhibitions and biennials, being included in leading institutional collections worldwide.

Raised in Paris, Daniel obtained his French Baccalaureate (Economics – École Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel, Paris – ’80), graduated from the Université Paris II-Panthéon Assas with a Licence en Droit des Affaires (BA in Business Law) and studied Art History at l’École du Louvre focusing on post-war and contemporary art.

Heba Elkayal

Heba Elkayal is an independent curator and art advisor working in the fine arts industry in the Middle East and the United States. Her articles have appeared in Al Fanar Media (website, London) and Canvas magazine (print, Dubai), and she was the lifestyle editor for Daily News Egypt from 2008 to 2012. She was previously an Instructor in Christie’s Online Education Program. Elkayal earned her Master’s Degree in Modern Art History & Curatorial Studies from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Mari Spirito

Mari Spirito is executive director and curator of Protocinema, a cross-cultural, ambulatory art organization commissioning and presenting exhibitions and public programs in Istanbul and New York, which she founded in 2011. In 2023 she co-curated Art, Ancestors, Ghosts & The Dead convening on attitudes towards death across cultures; curated The Myth of Normal, A Celebration of Authentic Expression, a group exhibition at MassArt Art Museum, Boston, forthcoming in October; and completed Contemplative Care Foundations Program, New York Zen Center. In 2020, she developed and presented a new exhibition model A Few in Many Places, a multi-city group exhibition installed in Beirut, Istanbul, Berlin, Montreal and Philadelphia, that maintains a foot in physical real-life in each community, while utilizing far-reaching digital support structures, thoughtfully local and globally interconnected. In 2021, this format took place in Seoul, Bangkok, Istanbul, New York, Santurce and Guatemala City. These interventions use sustainable exhibition-making models reducing exploitation (of natural resources, labor and knowledge) and consumption (no shipping or flying). In 2015 she initiated the Protocinema Emerging Curator Series Mentorship program, which partnered with The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, New York, in 2022. From 2013 to 2018 she programmed the Conversations program for both Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach. Spirito served as international advisory committee member for the inaugural High Line Plinth Commissions, New York, 2017; curator/director of Alt Art Space, Bomonti, Istanbul, 2015–17; advisor to the second Mardin Biennial, Turkey, 2012; and director of 303 Gallery New York from 2000–12. She is on the Board of Participant Inc, New York, and holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston.

Shadi Harouni

Shadi Harouni is an artist based in New York. Harouni’s practice is situated at the intersections of image, sculpture, text, and folklore. Her research is centered on marginalized and disavowed histories of dissent, chiefly in her ancestral Kurdistan, connecting quiet personal acts of resistance to global mass movements. Harouni’s work is rooted in spaces, objects and sentient subjects imbued with both the utopian dreams and broken promises of exodus and revolution. Harouni’s art and writing have been featured in The Guardian, New York Times, and Art Forum among other publications. Her projects have been exhibited at Queens Museum (NY), Kunstmuseum Bonn (DE), Prague City Museum (CZ), Fondazione Ratti, and Pecci Center for Contemporary Art (IT). She has been awarded fellowships from Harpo Foundation, Gattuzo Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, where she also served as Acting Director in 2019.

Harouni is an educator, a Professor and currently the Head of Photography/Video, following her tenure as Director of Undergraduate Studies (2017-2023), at New York University’s Department of Art and Art Professions, Steinhardt.

Walid Nagi

Walid Nagi is a senior level executive with a global vision and experience in International Relations, Diplomacy and Sustainability. Walid has more than 25 years of work experience in the Middle East and the United States. He has worked in the private sector in Egypt, the United Nations in New York, and has also contributed to several start-ups and non for profit organizations in New York as a consultant.  Over the years, he has built himself a solid practice and understanding in the fields of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, governance, marketing, corporate communication, project management, operations, and social development. Currently, he serves as the Director of Networks and Relationships at the Arab Foundations Forum.

Walid started his career in 1993 in the Marketing field and moved in the hierarchy to reach the position of Group Brand Manager in 2000. In 2002, building on his experience, he moved to head Corporate Affairs at Mansour Group and was requested to build the group’s CSR and corporate communication strategies where he refocused his career on sustainability ever since.  In 2010, Walid moved to the United Nations Global Compact Office in New York in his capacity as a Regional Network Manager. In 2013, he became the Chief of the Local Networks managing the global operations of the office and as of end of 2014, he also became the New York Executive for the UN Global Compact Cities Program and a senior Advisor on partnerships. Over the years, Walid has built a strong global network for the UN Global Compact and has also managed to put emphasis on inter countries and regional collaboration especially with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and encouraging partnerships.

Walid has acted as an independent consultant for several technology start-ups based in New York advising them on matters related to sustainability and linking them to the UN and worked with the International Rescue Committee focusing on the internal governance processes and capacity building programs. He has also supported the organization in finding creative ways to increase financial contributions in countries where the IRC is not present.

On the art front, Walid manages the estate of the renowned Nagi family (Mohamed and Effat Nagi) and he is an art lover and collector. He has also founded Dress Art NYC; a New York based company that promotes upcoming visual artists by printing their work on wearables and selling them on line with the objective of creating a platform uniting art lovers with upcoming talented artists.

Walid is a graduate of the American University in Cairo with a BA in Economics and currently resides in New York.

Shireen Atassi

Shireen Atassi is the co-founder and director of the Atassi Foundation, an arts and culture non-profit initiative that aims to preserve and promote Syrian modern and contemporary art. With almost 25 years of experience in business and art, Atassi has built a career that bridges the two worlds together.

As the director, she sets the strategic vision and financial planning for the foundation as well as manages its art collection which contains over 500 objects. Continually forging partnerships and collaborations with regional and international institutions, Atassi also conceives and produces an annual roster of events to create international awareness on Syrian art and artists. She is a strong proponent of the need for creating knowledge around art from the Middle East, and as such, she launched the Modern Art of Syria Archive (MASA) in 2020, a growing online resource.

In her youth, Atassi was always a part of the Atassi Gallery, one of the most prominent and long-lasting galleries in Syria, where she assisted with exhibitions and publications, while working with artists. She traveled to the UK to study economics at Salford University in Manchester and she received her MBA at Imperial College for Science & Technology in London. Atassi attained recognition in the business world by working at companies like Citibank, Ernst & Young, and Mars Inc. In 2015, Atassi launched the Atassi Foundation continuing her family’s dedication to celebrating Syrian artists.

Nathalie Ackawi

Nathalie Ackawi is a passionate curator and dedicated art advisor based in New York. She boasts a rich background steeped in the art world, including valuable experience in the Chelsea gallery scene, where she organized exhibitions and collaborated closely with artists, curators and scholars.

Her artistic journey has spanned both the bustling landscapes of New York and the culturally vibrant city of Beirut. Nathalie co-directed the Beirut Art Residency (BAR) and orchestrated various independent art projects, ranging from auctions to large-scale international exhibitions.

In a more recent role, Nathalie led fundraising and member events for FIAF in New York, notably the annual Galas, with a sharp focus on high-quality auctions.

She holds a B.A. from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and an M.A. in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. Her passion extended to teaching roles at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts – ALBA and The École supérieure des affaires (ESA).

Hisham Yousif

Hisham Yousif is a physician and entrepreneur whose work has spanned across public policy, academia, philanthropy, and consulting after completing his medical education and training at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. The beginning of Hisham’s career was focused on international development and healthcare delivery in under-resourced settings, splitting time between the Levant, North Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, and South Asia before pivoting to focusing on domestic care delivery in the United States. Hisham’s current focus is working as an assistant professor and building a venture that is upskilling and economically mobilizing underserved healthcare workers through education. Hisham’s roots are Sudanese, with the early part of his childhood in Saudi Arabia and England before settling down in the United States. He has a keen appreciation for and is an avid collector of art, film, and music from the Middle East and North Africa. Hisham looks forward to contributing a perspective based on his personal and professional experiences to help craft the strategic vision and creative programming at ArteEast. 

Denise Maroney

Irish-Lebanese-American by birth, and raised between New York City and Japan, Denise Maroney’s eclectic cultural background inspires and reflects her cross-cultural projects around the globe in art, design, and education. Maroney began her career in theatre working in New York City as a costume designer, and later as the founder and producer of The (B)IM Project, a non-profit theatre company that brought Lebanese and American artists together to create original work and perform in site-specific locations across Lebanon. For her theatre work, Maroney was the recipient of two Theatre Communications Group grantee awards, winner of the 2012 Ideaz Prize, and raised upwards of $100,000 to fund free performances across Lebanon. Living in the Middle East drew her attention to the arts and crafts practiced in the region, and Maroney started working as a designer and curator with Bokja, a bespoke design atelier that employs artisanal embroiderers hailing from Syria, Iraq, Armenia, and Lebanon, to create one-of-a-kind pieces of embroidered artwork, furniture, and objets de joie. While living in Lebanon, she received a CEC Artslink grant to supplement a series of textile workshops for aspiring designers in Beirut, Lebanon, exploring the heritage of silk reeling and embroidery in Mount Lebanon and culminating in an exhibit at the Silk Museum of Lebanon.

Interest in the intersection between culture, art, textiles, and craftmanship led her to pursue an MFA in Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received a RISD Student Grant to continue her studies with specialized embroidery courses at Atelier Lesage (France) and the Textile Research Centre (Holland).

Upon graduating, she spent a year working for The Mitchell Denburg Collection, an artisanal weaving mill and artist residency located in Antigua, Guatemala.

The cross-cultural parallels found in textile making in Mesoamerica and the Middle East- and communities across the world- continue to inspire and guide her design work and ongoing research as a professor at the SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC) and the Textile Arts Center (NYC). She has lectured at several institutions including the Drawing Center (NYC), TATTER Library (NYC), The Textile Museum of Canada (Toronto), and the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (Beirut). 

Philanthropically, Maroney is a regular contributor to Afikra and SEAL Lebanon. After the August 4th explosion in Beirut, she partnered with colleagues to launch Dear Beirut, an art auction that brought together emerging and established artists including Jagdeep Raina, Kiki Smith, Oliver Jeffers, and Farah Al Qasimi, and raised $100,000 for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Beirut. She was a mentor of RISD art/design students hailing from the Middle East and a volunteer mentor in NYC FreeArts program for high school students. Maroney currently resides in New York City where she manages the embroidery design and production for Lingua Franca, a bespoke design house specialized in hand embroidered garments.