Thomas Krens, Chairman & CEO GCAM
New York, NY, USA
Director Emeritus Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York
Former Director and Chief Artistic Officer Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York 1988-2008
Recent: For 20 years, Director and Chief Artistic Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which oversees and operates five museums—the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, and the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum Las Vegas; produced 292 exhibitions for the Guggenheim network (1988-2008). As Guggenheim Director, Mr. Krens doubled the size of the Guggenheim Collection; completed two major restorations of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Guggenheim Museum New York; doubled the size of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice; increased Foundation endowment from $25 million to $130 million; and conceived of and executed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin.
Awards/Education: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from Yale University (2004), Williams College (2003), and the State University of New York at Albany (1990); Golden Lion Prize for Architectural Patronage at the Venice Architecture Biennale (2000); Lifetime Achievement Award, Americans for the Arts (2007); decorated with the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Government of Mexico (2007); MBA Yale University (1984); MA State University of New York (1971); BA Williams College (1969).
History: Assistant Professor of Art History, Williams College (1974-1982); Director of the Williams College Museum of Art and Adjunct Professor of Art History (1982-1988); Lecturer, Yale University School of Management 1990-1991); founder and Chairman of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) 1988-1992.
Oussama Rifahi, COO
Beirut, Lebanon, North Adams
Oussama Rifahi is a board member of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, and served as its executive director from 2010 to 2016. He started his career as a geophysical engineer, moving on to take management roles in aerospace and renewable energies. Since 2007 he has provided consultancy services to GCAM and was, for several years, Managing Director for Museum Development. In that role, he worked on the development of tourism and culture strategies and led feasibility studies for contemporary museums across the world. He worked closely with governments, cities, foundations and private collectors in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Prior to that, as Director of Special Projects for the Guggenheim Foundation, Rifahi led feasibility studies of modern and contemporary museums in Lithuania and France in 2007. From 2003 to 2006, he was project manager at Mubadala in Abu Dhabi and an advisor to the chairman of Tourism Development and Investment Company—TDIC. Rifahi directed the market analysis, strategy definition and development of the business model for tourism and culture in Abu Dhabi and supported the first architectural developments on the cultural district of Saadiyat Island, as well as the initial negotiations between Abu Dhabi and the Louvre and Guggenheim museums. He advises individuals and corporations on strategic philanthropy, and institutions and non-profits on communications and fundraising.
Senior Vice-President and Curator
Former Senior Curator of Contemporary Art of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York (1989-2008)
Artistic Director of the Prada Foundation, Milan (1998-present)
Germano Celant is widely recognized as one of the most influential interpreters of the late 20th century avant-garde and is internationally acknowledged as one of the principal proponents on Arte Povera, a term he coined. He supervised the opening of the Annabianca and Emilio Vedova Foundation in Venice (with the building project by Renzo Piano) and was Senior Curator for Contemporary Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from 1988 to 2009. As Artistic Director of the Prada Foundation, in collaboration with Rem Koolhaas and Miuccia Prada, he oversaw the conceptualization and realization of the new location of the Prada Foundation, opened in Milan in 2015. Mr. Celant has been Senior Curator for Contemporary Art at GCAM since 2009.
Daniel J. Arbess
New York, USA
Daniel J. Arbess is a professional investor and policy analyst recognized for his prescient calls on multi-year macro economic and geopolitical developments. He is a former Partner and Head of the Global Privatization practice group at White & Case from 1992, co-founder of investment firms Stratton Investments and Triton Partners (’95-’02) and founder of Xerion Investments and the $3.25 Billion Xerion Hedge Funds, which he managed from 2003 to 2014. Dan is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and co-Founder of No Labels, a U.S. political organization promoting collaboration across the political spectrum.
Director of GCAM Special Projects for China
As the Deputy Director of Shanghai MoCA, Zhicong Zhou is responsible for museum exhibitions and general management for Shanghai MoCA, and has worked with GCAM since 2008. Mr. Zhou also serves as a consultant to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA on exhibition programs related to China. He formerly served as Director of International Affairs for the Shanghai Museum, and has worked extensively with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York on numerous special exhibition projects, including China: 5000 Years and America 300. He has 25 years of experience in organizing international programs for major museums. Based in Shanghai, Mr. Zhou has participated in all of the 11 projects GCAM has undertaken in China.
Mr. Thompson is the Founding Director of MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary and performing arts in the United States. During his 31 years tenure, Mr. Thompson guided oversaw the development of the architectural program for the 13-acre campus of 19th-century factory buildings; articulated the institution's far-ranging exhibitions program program; established MASS MoCA as a ground breaking venue for the Performing Arts, and built the center's staff, board, and governing structure.
Ben Sosne, General Counsel
Ben Sosne is an attorney specializing in real estate, land use, environmental law, and appellate practice. He spent seven years as a principal court attorney for the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division. He is admitted to the bar in New York and Massachusetts and has served as Senior Project Manager and Legal Advisor on the North Adams Cultural Development Master Plan since 2016.
James Jarzyniecki, Director of Design
James Jarzyniecki received a Master of Architecture degree with distinction from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA and has been recognized with numerous honors, including the prestigious American Institute of Architects Henry Adams Medal and a selected fellowship with Architecture OMI.
James Pihakis, Director of Research
James Pihakis received a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Cincinnati. Since 2018 he has contributed to GCAM’s museum development studies, exhibition programming, and feasibility studies for contemporary museum projects.
Josh Shapiro, Communications & Educational Programming
New York, NY – North Adams
Josh Shapiro graduated from NYU with a BA in Technology and Education last spring. He is founder of the Edify Symposium Education Conference and has been awarded multiple grants and recognitions including first place in BIFF (Berkshire International Film Festival). He also teaches and consults part time at NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Teaching & Learning.