Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), representing over 50 local chapters is the largest, democratically elected Turkish American membership organization in the United States. Established in 1979 to fight defamation and attacks on Turkish Americans, ATAA has evolved to be the most influential grassroots umbrella organization for the Turkish American community in the U.S.
The strength of ATAA not only comes from its ability to unite many local Turkish-American organizations but also its ability to empower them. The ATAA Board of Directors, representing 13 different geographical regions within the U.S., brings the voice of many Turkish Americans to this organization. This representation, creating a network of communities, enables transference of ideas, brings about new solutions to existing problems, and in turn empowers the communities during the process. Since 1979, to this date, the Assembly has managed to serve this purpose only through the “volunteerism” of its Board of Directors.
As a non-faith-based organization, ATAA is open to people of diverse backgrounds.
ATAA is governed by the Board of Directors with executive responsibility and a Board of Trustees that provides financial guidance and oversight.
ATAA is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization that relies on membership dues, private donations, as well as private and public grants.
What is ATAA?
The founding principle of ATAA was the need to create cohesion and cooperation between the large numbers of social/cultural Turkish American organizations around the US. The Assembly’s main goal is to be a link between all communities, large or small, and pursue their interests in Washington and beyond. The main objectives of ATAA are two-fold. One is to create an informed national Turkish American community that can help foster US – Turkey relations and take an active part in promoting a balanced and truthful picture of Turkey in the US. The other is to educate Americans in government, the media and the public at large about Turkey and issues that concern us as Turkish Americans.
In pursuit of its mission and objectives, ATAA undertakes a number of activities, such as annual conferences on contemporary political, social and economic issues related to Turkey and US Turkish relations; educational seminars for Turkish American communities on grassroots advocacy and civic leadership; and cultural events to promote Turkey’s rich traditions, art and heritage. Working as an information clearinghouse, ATAA regularly publishes reference material on issues that concern the Turkish American community. ATAA e-bulletins, including Community Information Services (CIS), Grassroots Information Services (GIS) and monthly newsletters, reach tens of thousands of readers from the United States to Turkey, as well as many other countries.
Turkish Americans from all walks of life and the business community have benefited directly and indirectly from the work of ATAA in the nation’s capital. The community-building work of ATAA around the nation and its representative role in the nation’s capital have created greater visibility for the Turkish American community and a better image for its members; its educational efforts have contributed to better understanding of Turkey and US-Turkish relations; its vigilance regarding discrimination and defamation against Turkish Americans assure the protection of our rights. ATAA works to create a better future today for generations of Turkish Americans to come.
By becoming a member you will be part of a network of Turkish-Americans and friends of Turkey who care about the historic relationship between the two peoples and who are aware of the crucial role each one of us plays in strengthening the relationship and promoting an accurate and fair picture of Turkey and Turks. For more information, please click here.
ATAA Regional Map
With 10 regional vice presidents nationwide, ATAA represents local Turkish American associations coast-to-coast, as well as member associations in Canada and Turkey.
Mid Central Region (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio); Midwest Region (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin), New York Region (New Jersey, New York, Canada); Mid Atlantic Region (Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia); Northeast Region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont); Southwest Region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas);Western Region (Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah); Capital Region (Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Türkiye); Southeast Region (Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina); Northwest Region (Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Wyoming, Idaho)
The ATAA Board of Directors is composed of the following elected officers: A President, a President-Elect, 10 Regional Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and the immediate past President.
Board of Directors
Mr. Gokhan Ozalp was born and raised in Ankara. He attended TED Ankara Koleji and later received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Hacettepe University, Ankara. Mr. Ozalp moved to the U.S. in 1995 to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. He received an MBA with a Specialization in International Business Management from Eastern Michigan University in 1999 and a M.S. in Information Systems in 2001. Professionally, Mr. Ozalp worked as a developer and a project manager in the medical device software industry. Currently, Mr. Ozalp helps medical device startups with their software development processes as an independent consultant. Mr. Ozalp has been an involved member of Turkish-American community in Michigan and in the US. He served as a Board member for Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan (TACAM) from 2009 to 2010, was on the Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2012 and has served as the Vice President from 2017 until today. During his term as a TACAM Board member, Mr. Ozalp chaired the organization’s Grassroots and Outreach committee which was established to work on a special project with ATAA to create a Grassroots movement within the Turkish American Community in Michigan. Mr. Ozalp was involved in inspiring and training community members to participate in advocacy and outreach on issues relevant to Turkish Americans. Mr. Ozalp has been involved with the Assembly of Turkish American Associations since 2013. He first served on the ATAA Board of Directors as a Board Member from 2013-2016 and as the Assembly’s President Elect from 2016-2018. Currently Mr. Ozalp is the President of ATAA Board of Directors. Mr. Ozalp is married, has a son and lives in Michigan.
Mr. Mazlum Kosma always actively involved in Turkish-American communities and organizations. After graduating from Corum Ilkogretmen Okulu and Ankara 19 Mayis Genclik ve Spor Akademisi, he started his graduate studies at Orta Doğu Teknik Universitesi (ODTU) and he moved to the USA in 1984. He received his M.S. degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) and his Ed.S. degree from Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, FL. He initiated and organized Turkish Student Organizations (TSO) both at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Florida State University. Extending the TSO into community, he started and formed the first Turkish-American Cultural Association in Tallahassee, Florida. He has been living in Atlanta and working at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) since 1995. He worked for Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) in the Olympic Village during the 1996 Summer Olympics and assisted Turkish Olympic team. Mr. Mazlum Kosma has been a dedicated member of Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) and ATAA component organizations. He served as Turkish-American Cultural Association of Georgia (TACAGA) Board Member, By-Law Committee Member, Chair of Children’s Day Committee, and President for years. When he became the chair of the Children’s Day Committee in 1997, he extended the event to other cultural communities and the event became an International Children’s Day, bringing children from all over Atlanta. Since then it has been successfully celebrated as an annual International Children’s Day in Atlanta. While serving as the president of TACAGA, he organized lectures, workshops about the 1915 Armenian conflict, and hosted Professor Turkkaya Ataov, Serkan Koc, Mehmet Perincek and other well-known speakers on the subject. Again, while serving as the TACAGA president, Mr. Mazlum Kosma was appointed by ATAA board as ATAA Vice President – Southeastern Region in 2009, then he was elected twice to serve as ATAA-VP for two terms. After completing his term as ATAA-VP, he was elected as the ATAA treasurer. He is currently serving his second term as the ATAA Treasurer. He has been an ambassador of Turkish culture as a musician, folk dancer and a folkdance teacher and involved in many international festivals in Turkey, Europe and in the USA. Besides Turkish-American organizations, he has been a member of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and the Georgia Council for International Visitors as a Citizen Diplomat. Mr. Kosma also has been working with Turkish-American Political Action Committees to visit local and state level elected officials, congressmen, congresswomen and senators in their local offices and Washington, DC, to inform them of the view of Turkish-Americans at their districts. Mr. Mazlum Kosma is married to his ballroom dance partner Winnie Kosma. They have one daughter, Eda, who recently graduated from Georgia Tech.
Mr. Kenan Caglar serves on the ATAA Executive Committee and Board of Directors as Past-President. Since 2011 Mr. Caglar has contributed significantly to ATAA by volunteering for many positions. In addition to serving on the Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, he served as the Treasurer before becoming president-elect, successfully reducing operating costs and producing thousands of dollars in savings annually. He has served as the Chairman of the Investment Committee which oversees ATAA’s Endowments Fund. Employing principles of prudent investment and disciplined spending, Mr. Caglar has helped marshal considerable growth in ATAA’s Endowments Fund. He currently serves on the Education, Anti-Discrimination, and Fundraising Committees as well. Mr. Caglar received his B.A. degree in International Marketing at the Marmara University in Istanbul. After immigrating to the United States in 1988, he enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University and received a certificate in Information Systems. He is currently employed by Wells Fargo as Vice President in Enterprise Technology. Mr. Caglar have three daughters and reside in Miami, Florida.
Mrs. Nilufer Esen-Bilgin, was born in Giresun, and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She was graduated from Marmara University Medical School in Istanbul and got specialty degree in physiology at Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty. Until moving to USA (2002), she worked as a faculty at Kocaeli University Medical School Department of Physiology. Currently she works as a Research Associate at Wayne State Medical School Department of Neurology. Since last year, she has been serving as the First V.P & Mid-Central Region Vice President of ATAA. She actively participates in the Michigan based Turkish folk dance group Mozaik Dance Group. She is a member of the Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan (TACAM) since 2009. She has led the Ataturk Park Project which was started in 2018, and completed successfully in May 2019. She has served the Turkish community in Michigan as the president of TACAM during the years of 2015 and 2019. Currently she is serving as an executive board member of TACAM.
Mr. Mehmet E. Yaya was born and raised in Turkey. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Bogazici University before he moved to United States in 2003. He obtained his MBA from Auburn University, then received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alabama. He moved to Michigan in 2009. He is currently the Professor of Economics and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Economics at Eastern Michigan University. His research focuses on immigrants, income inequality, and poverty and he has published number of articles in well-respected academic journals on these topics. Mr. Yaya has actively been involved with Turkish American organizations. He was the founder of Turkish Student Association at the University of Alabama before he moved to Michigan. In Michigan, he has been a diligent volunteer for the Turkish American Cultural Association (TACAM); served as a board member for 2 years and treasurer for the last 4 years. Currently, he is serving as the president of TACAM. His involvement with TACAM specifically encompasses the education, political outreach, Ataturk Park and fundraising activities of TACAM. Mr. Yaya is married with two children ages 3 and 6. In his free time, he enjoys camping, playing soccer, riding his motorcycle, and spending time with his kids.
Mrs. Zulfunar Rasin graduated from Gazi University, Faculty of Education, Department of ESL (English as a Second Language) in 1997. After graduation, she moved to the US and settled down in the Washington DC area. Between 1998 and 2007, she worked as a Consular Officer at the Turkish Embassy Consular Office in Washington DC. In 2007, she resigned her position and started to work as a billing analyst at various small- and large-scale companies in the US. Zulfunar currently works at EXP Realty Residential Brokerage as a Real Estate Consultant. She is married with a 7 years old daughter. She is actively involved in Turkish Community and has volunteered for a lot of Turkish Community events in order to help strengthen the ties between Turkey and the United States and to promote Turkish Cultural Heritage in the USA. She is proud to be a Turkish citizen representing Turkish Culture in the USA.
Mrs. Bircan Unver is the independent TV Producer, Originator (1999), Founder-President and [Head] Representative of the Light Millennium Organization (LM) to the United Nations Department of Global Communications (UN-DGC-CSO); also Executive Producer of LMTV; Content Provider at QPTV since 1992; Co-founder of the Turkish Library & Museum’s vision & Ambassador of Peace and Goodwill for Anuvrat (Anuvibha) Global Organization (India); and Member of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace (GMCoP, an NGO platform at the UN). She served in several Planning Committees of the UN-Civil Society Conferences (formerly UN-DPI-NGO), and Planning Committee of the High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace (HLF-CoP). Bircan has undertaken LM’s e-publications, public programs, and LMTV Series and Specials’ in its all aspects since January 2000; also its all UN related activity and programs since 2005. Author of: “En Kutsalı Yaratmak” (1995), “Sanatın Labirentlerinde (2016), and “Işık Yollarında (poetry, 2017) in Turkish. Holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (Istanbul, 1988) and a Master’s Degree (M.A.) from Media Studies of the New School University (New York City 1999).
Mrs. Yucel Burdurlu- Tavolara was born and raised in Istanbul Turkey. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Hacettepe University Ankara Turkey, she continued her graduate studies at California State University Long Beach. After graduating, she started a career in private industry working on applied and theoretical research on coatings and coating raw materials. Yucel worked for Imperial Chemical Industries formerly known as ICI Paints North America in their Strongsville Research Center most of her career in the international innovation team where she was involved variety of interesting projects in collaboration with their Slough Laboratory in Slough, England, ICI France in Rouge, France and ICI South America Research Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Next, Yucel worked for BUNGE Oils North America where, she worked with inorganic synthesis of anticorrosive pigments and tested them in collaboration with Batelle Laboratories in Columbus Ohio, University of Southern Mississippi and Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. Presently, Yucel is with True Value Manufacturing in Cary Illinois as a Research Chemist.Yucel lives in the suburbs of Chicago. She joined TACA’s Board of Directors in 2013-2015 and she was the Director of the Ataturk School and the Adult Turkish School 2014-2015. Yucel also has been a member of the Chicago Turkish Festival Planning Committee and a volunteer in the festival since 2013 and has served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Chicago Turkish festivals in 2016 and 2018. Yucel is planning to continue working on bringing Turkish and American groups together using her organization skills, people skills, education skills and her passion for harmony and peace.
Born and raised in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey, Ms. Burcu Tansu is a graduate of University of Istanbul, California State University (CSULA), and the UBC, Bournemouth, holding B.S. in Chemistry, B.S in Economy, and M.S in Business Management. She also holds a professional certificate in Concentration in Human Resources Management from UCLA. She is currently residing in California and working in private sector. Ms. Tansu is the Past President of Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California (ATA-SC), and currently holding Vice President position at ATAMLA, chapter of ATASC. She is also the founding member of ATASC- Los Angeles Chapter LATAA and special interest chapter ATAMLA. Apart from local Turkish American associations in California; she also founded; Turkish Social Connections, and Fenerbahce California West Coast sports fan club. She is currently serving as the ATAA West Region V.P. Ms. Tansu volunteered in vast number of organizations in Turkey & in the US and gained her experience through diverse non-profit associations, and international charitable foundations like: The International Lions Club (Past President of Harbiye Leo Club, Istanbul, and BOD at 118-T), The International Autistic Children’s Olympics, The Orphanage Foundation – Cocuk Esirgeme Kurumu in Turkey, The Hospice Home for Needy – Darulaceze in Turkey, The Six Dots Foundation of Blinds – Alti Nokta Korler Vakfi, The LA Mission – Homeless Shelter in Los Angeles, Bridge to Turkey, CYDD, and few more. Ms. Tansu has received various awards and recognitions, among which stand out “Woman of Distinction Award 2011” by Daughters of Ataturk, “Best Leader of the Year”, by ATASC, “Best Leadership” award –twice- by ATAA on behalf of ATASC. She recently represented the Turkish Americans as the first ATAA rep. in the UN -United Nations, Civil Society Conference 2019. Her motto is “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” and her new project concentrated on Meal Train for Elderly in local communities.
Mr. Ilhan Geckil has been serving as ATAA Mid-Atlantic Region Vice President since 2017. He is the Director of the Strategy and Business Valuation practice area at Anderson Economic Group. His work focuses on economic and financial analyses, business valuations, commercial damages assessments, and strategy consulting. His work has been applied in a range of industries, with significant focus on franchised industries including automotive; beer, wine, and spirits; hotel; auto rental; and retail. His consulting clients have included alcohol beverage suppliers, automotive manufacturers, auto dealerships, wholesalers, national banks and major manufacturers in multiple countries. He has written extensively about business strategy, valuation, damages estimation, and economic policy. His book Applied Game Theory and Strategic Behavior was published in July 2009 by CRC Press. His previously published articles include “A Game Theoretical Model of Corporate Average Fuel Economy,” published in Business Economics; and “Pocketbook Predictions of Presidential Elections” which was awarded as Best Featured Article Published in Business Economics by the National Association for Business Economics in 2004. He also provides economic forecasts for Bloomberg’s monthly U.S. economic survey. He holds a Master’s degree in economics from the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at Michigan State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey. Geckil is a member of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) and the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA).
Erdal Sipahi was born in Ankara and came to United States in 1979. He received his BBA degree in System Analysis from University of Texas at Arlington. Mr. Sipahi has been working in Oncology Centers since 1980, namely Wadley Institutes of Molecular Medicine in Dallas, Moncrief Radiation Center in Fort Worth, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge and U.T. Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. His specialty is Oncology Information Systems specifically in high dose radiation treatment systems. He has proudly served as Vice President of TURANT-Dallas in 1992, President of TURANT in 1993, ATA Houston V.P. of social events in 1996, and Fundraising Chairman of ATA Houston in 2014. Mr. Sipahi currently serves as ATAA Southwestern Region Vice President. He is also on the board of directors of TURANT Dallas. He has two children, Madeleine and Deniz.
Mr. Fuat Ornarli has been serving as ATAA Southeast Region Vice President since 2016. He graduated from Middle East Technical University in 1974, and worked as a designer /contractor in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and USA. He published three engineering handbooks as co-author. He developed structural software and it was approved by the Ministry of Public Work to be used in the market. He has been involved in the Turkish American community in South Florida since 2000. He served in several civil associations as volunteer, and dedicated his time to establish a Turkish Center in Florida. He is trustee for Florida Turkish center, and board member in Florida Turkish American Association (FTAA). He is also the president of the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce (TACC). He is married and has two children.
Mr. Yenal Kucuker is a former Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) / TUSIAD-USA Congressional intern (2008). His professional background in U.S.-Turkey relations began with this internship. Yenal worked for the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) as Civic Engagement Director to run a joint, national grassroots initiative with TCA in advocacy and outreach (2009-2012). In addition to gaining grassroots supporters nation-wide, the initiative helped increase the membership numbers to the Congressional Turkey Caucus. Following ATAA, Yenal worked for the Voice of America (VOA) Turkish Service (2013-2015) as part of a Federal Scholarship (National Security Education Program) requirement. He conducted numerous interviews with experts, government officials and civil society leaders on political, socio-economic developments related to U.S.-Turkey relations. From 2015 to 2018, Yenal worked as the Executive Director of Turkish Heritage Organization, a start-up, non-profit organization. In this role, he was instrumental in creating a young and dynamic all-American team that cultivated critical ties at a critical time in U.S.-Turkey bilateral relations with various influential people, organizations/institutions and media. Currently, Yenal works for Verizon Wireless as a Project Manager in Rochester, NY, focusing on 5G network development in Upstate NY through regulatory and local government affairs. Born and raised in Turkey, Yenal immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1998 and completed 12th grade in Rochester. He holds an MA degree in Public Policy from University of Michigan and a BA in Geography and International Relations from SUNY Geneseo.
Mr. Sevket Numanoglu is currently a Director at The Boeing Company. He was born in Ankara, Turkey and raised in Hopa, Turkey. He served as the President Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington (TACAWA) for several terms as a board member on the board of directors. Numanoglu has a Mechanical Engineering degree, a MS degree in Engineering and Technology Management and a MS degree in Political Science. He is a certified Project Management Professional and is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. Numanoglu is married, has a daughter and a son.
Board of Trustees
Dr. Bülent Başol, Chairman
Dr. Engin I. Holmstrom
Dr. Ülkü Ülgür
Kayhan Yilmaz, Chairman, ATAA Capital Region VP
Kenan Caglar, Past-President, ATAA
Dr. Selim Erhan, ATAA Midwest Region VP
Cennet Kose Rivera, Past President-MATA
Murat Tas, Secretary, ATAA
Dr. Ulku Ulgur, ATAA BOT Member
Dr. Ulku Ulgur, Chairperson
Kursad Dogru, Member, ATAA BOT
Engin Inel Holmstrom, Member, ATAA BOT
Hakan Dakin, Art, Media & Communication Director