Deborah Dunham

Deborah Dunham

Learning and Organizational Development Skilled and experienced in aligning people with strategy, evaluating and prioritizing learning and organizational development needs, and in implementing change programs that achieve results for clients in both the corporate and cultural sectors.

Global cultural perspective An experienced consultant and cross-cultural communicator with onsite work experience in 30 countries, Deborah relishes complex global initiatives. She has a special interest in the Middle East, an MA in Islamic Art and Archaeology, and extensive experience in interpretive planning, community cultural programming, and exhibitions.

Project planning and implementation As a PMI certified Project Manager, Deborah has successfully implemented a wide variety of major international projects and has engaged teams and diverse stakeholders’ participation to achieve target goals on time and on budget.

Cultural organization experience

Almadad Foundation, London / MENA region

Through needs assessment, stakeholder engagement, workshop facilitation, HRD and coaching, we developed a sustainable long term strategic expansion plan for this UK and UAE registered charity committed to the promotion of literacy and education for disadvantaged children across the Middle East. Through local partnerships, multimedia artistic expression, intercultural dialogue, educational projects and events Al Madad Foundation engage international actors to join them in developing and supporting programs to emancipate and empower those most vulnerable and excluded. A major program originally co-founded with Art Dubai, the START program runs art therapy workshops for children in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, India, Syria, Turkey, Dubai, UAE, UK

UNESCO, Paris/ Cairo/ Amsterdam

Developed organizational staffing plan and implementation recommendations for the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, analyzed issues, developed job descriptions to align people with museum mission, evaluated space planning, and identified hiring and training priorities to prepare for the 2013 opening. Identified training priorities and managed a request for proposals for a €200,000 training budget for Egyptian staff. Conducted a sustainability study for the Riwaya Palestinian Museum for UNESCO’s Ramallah office. Learning Advisor for UNESCO Netherland’s “First Aid Training for Culture in Conflict”, a skill development program for Culture professionals from 25 countries to preserve heritage and culture during conflict.

Cultural Innovations, London   

Led the consulting team that conducted benchmarking and best practice research for international clients including the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (survey of Artists Residences) and the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (global survey of museum governance for a $1.6 billion investment), and developed approach for staffing and organizational project plan for the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Royal Geographical Society, London

Co-curator and consultant to RGS for the exhibition “From Kabul to Kandahar 1833-1933,” the first phase of Crossing Continents Connecting Cultures, a three year initiative to engage Muslim and other ethnic communities with RGS photographic collections. Visitor numbers to the RGS increased by 55% throughout the six months of the exhibit.

Agha Khan Trust for Culture, Kabul

As part of a multi-national team, worked as both an onsite project consultant and London-based researcher to support the five-year reconstruction of an 11 hectare 16th century Mughal burial garden. Provided project management training to architects, engineers, and surveyors, contributed historical research to conservationists and archaeologists, planned and established Baghe Babur educational/visitor center, initiated a successful community engagement program pilot with Save the Children, and developed interpretation panels and garden walk guide.

BBC London

Led 14-month project to establish a customer-focused culture for the Information and Archive Service, engaged staff through innovative customer surveys and process mapping, restructured the organization, and directed installation of a new telephony system under strict time constraints due to major office relocation. Project delivered on time and under budget to save £300,000 annually while dramatically improving service to BBC program producers.

Lectures and conferences

  • Architecture lecturer in Uzbekistan for the Association for Cultural Exchange; HR Development consultant for Turquoise Mountain Arts Afghanistan; Project Management Tutor at Kew management program for Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI);
  • Facilitator of “Financial Models: How Economic Changes are Challenging Museums around the World,” at “Global and Local Perspectives on Museum Governance Structures” conference, American Alliance of Museums, Houston 2011. 
  • SOAS Indian Art Circle, the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, Birkbeck College, and the IRCICA International Conference on Islamic Culture in Central Asia 2007.
  • Participation in Heritage 2014 Conference in Portugal, National Museums Conference at NYU Abu Dhabi, Museums of Arabia conferences (Doha 2014, London 2012); Changing Demographics in the GCC States, organized by SOAS and University of London 2014; Cultural and Political Identity in the Gulf States, SOAS 2006; Hamad bin Khalifa Islamic Art Symposiums (Palermo 2013, Doha 2011, Cordoba 2009); Cultural Leadership Program, UK Arts Council, London 2010; Middle East Garden Traditions, Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and Dumbarton Oaks, 2007.

Education and professional qualifications

M.A. Islamic Art and Archaeology (with distinction) School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, U.K.

M.Sc. Learning and Organizational Change, Northwestern University Graduate School of Education/Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Evanston, Il, U.S.

B.A. (Honors) English literature (minors: law and history), Hillsdale College, MI, U.S.

Project Management Professional and member of 2007-10 Board of Directors, Consulting- Project Management Institute

Master’s Certificate in Project Management, George Washington University, Washington D.C., U.S.

MCIPD Member, Chartered Institute for Personnel Development, U.K.

Member of the American Association of Museums, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Mentor, Museums Association (UK), Project Management Institute (PMI), International Committee on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), London Middle East Institute (LMEI), Middle East Association (MEA) Education and Training working group, and the School of Oriental and African Studies’ (SOAS) Indian Art and Islamic Art Circles.


Afghan Guide Contributor to Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide (Odyssey Publications 2011).
 Capacity Building Capacity Building in the Middle East,”  Museums Journal (July 2010) Interviews with Museum professionals in Damascus, Doha and Sharjah to explore how new museums are coping with local skills shortage.
 Imperial Designs Designs “The 500 year old Mughal garden renovation project I worked on for my MA thesis at SOAS was featured as the cover story Steppe Magazine (summer 2009).
 Aga Khan The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Kabul the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme Urban Conservation and Area Development in Afghanistan.
Kew Garden Editor, Mughal section on Kew Garden website on historic gardens.
Kabul to Kandahar

Co-curator “From Kabul to Kandahar 1833-1933” Royal Geographical Society exhibition (2007) Exhibition review which was part of “Crossing Continents, Connecting Communities” a programme to engage ethnic communities with RGS collections Brochure. (More on the exhibition).

Royal Geographical

Royal Geographical Society “learning resources for schools” Afghanistan.

Curator Babur

Curator/exhibition research and design Baghe Babur Interpretive Centre, Kabul. The panels in the six rooms of the centre provide information about the Emperor Babur, who identified the site and laid out this 11 hectare garden. They outline the significance of this and other gardens during the dynasty that Babur founded, and describe the transformations that took place on this site since its establishment 500 years ago.


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