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 United States.

ATAA’s mission is to create cohesion and cooperation between the social and cultural Turkish American organizations around the United States to establish an informed national Turkish American community that can help foster the United States – Türkiye relations and take an active part in promoting a balanced and truthful picture of Türkiye in the United States.

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, 501(c)(3) 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 among 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 Bylaws: Click here to view.

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)

ATAA Leadership

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 (2023)

Dr. Nilufer Esen-Bilgin
Dr. Nilufer Esen-BilginPresident

Dr. Nilüfer Esen-Bilgin was born in Giresun and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She graduated from Marmara University Medical School in Istanbul in 1990, and got a specialty degree in physiology at Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical School in 1995. She worked as a faculty at Kocaeli University Medical School Department of Physiology. In 2002, she moved to the United States, and lived in Arkansas for 6 years and worked at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Since 2008 she has resided in Michigan. She worked as a Research Associate at Wayne State Medical School Department of Neurology until her retirement in 2021. She served at the ATAA Board of Directors since 2017, first as the Mid-Central Region Vice President (V.P.),  and then as the First V.P of ATAA and the Secretary General of ATAA. Since 2022 she has been serving as the President-Elect of ATAA. Before joining the ATAA board, she was actively involved with the Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan (TACAM). She served as the president of TACAM between 2015 and 19, during which her leadership increased the awareness about the Turkish culture in the community, and increased the membership to the association. She initiated and completed the Atatürk Park Project in Michigan which was opened in 2019 as the largest park named after Atatürk in the USA. In addition, she actively participates at the Michigan based Turkish folk dance group Mozaik Dance Group, and the USA branch of KAHEV (Kadin Hekimler Egitime Destek Vakfi).

Mazlum Kosma
Mazlum KosmaPast President

Currently serving as the president of ATAA, Mr. Mazlum Koşma studied at Corum Ilkogretmen Okulu, Ankara 19 Mayıs Gençlik ve Spor Akademisi and Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (ODTÜ). Before he moved to the US in 1984, he worked as a teacher and administrator at Ministry of Education in Türkiye.

He received his graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) and Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, FL. He has been living in Atlanta and working as an administrator at Georgia Institute of Technology since 1995.

He has been actively involved in Turkish American communities and organizations. This active involvement has led him to the roles of President of Turkish American Cultural Association of Georgia (TACA-GA), ATAA Vice President for Southeastern Region, ATAA Treasurer, ATAA President-Elect, and currently the President of ATAA since 2021.

Mr. Koşma will continue serving on the ATAA Board of Directors as the past president as he is completing his term as president. 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. He has also been working with Turkish-American Political Action Committees visiting 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.

He has also been an ambassador of Turkish culture as a musician, folk dancer and folk dance teacher and been involved in many international festivals in Turkey, Europe and in the USA. He is married to his ballroom dance partner, Winnie Koşma. They have one daughter, Eda, who is finishing her graduate studies in Diplomacy and Law at Tufts University.

Dr. Mehmet E. Yaya
Dr. Mehmet E. YayaTreasurer

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.

Erdal Sipahi
Erdal SipahiSecretary

Mr. 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. He has been consulting with Health Care facilities the past few years in electronic health records integration and implementing technology projects such as Digital Health. His specialty is Oncology Information Systems specifically in high dose radiation treatment systems and integrating workflows with hospital information systems. Mr. Sipahi currently serves as the President of Turkish American Association of Northern Texas (TURANT). Mr. Erdal Sipahi was appointed as ATAA Secretary General on June 14, 2022. He served as ATAA Southwest Region Vice President from 2016 to 2020. 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. Erdal is married to Turkan Bayulken and they have three children between them, Maddy 31, Deniz 24, and Selin 14.

Alev Wieland
Alev WielandFirst VP & Southwest Region Vice President

Alev Wieland has Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Cincinnati, OH. Worked for Balcan Engineering at Proctor of Gamble as Project engineer for 7 years. She retired from PepsiCo, Inc-AMEA Capability Director in 2012. Alev has extensive experience in Lean Manufacturing, Lean Product Life Cycle Management, and Processes Development. Project Management, Construction Management in Food Manufacturing, Paper Converting and Laundry Soap Industry. She has solid understanding of Engineering, Manufacturing and Operations Processes. She is an expert in ISO 9001 and GMP Certifications and Standards. She has been responsible for organizational communication, meetings management, documentation, web site management for Contemporary Education Foundation (COEDFO) since 2013. She served as President of Cincinnati Turkish American Association (CTAA) from 1994 to 1996. An active member of the Turkish American Association of Northern Texas (TURANT), she has been providing organizational operations support to its elected board members and helping with executions of projects since 2000.

Yenal Kucuker
Yenal KucukerCapital Region Vice President

Mr. Yenal Küçüker has been serving as ATAA Northeast Region Vice President since 2019. Mr. 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 Maryland, focusing on 5G network deployment, 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.

Besim Haşar
Besim HaşarMid Atlantic Region Vice President

Mr. Besim Hasar was born and raised in Istanbul. He completed his Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and International Relations at Anadolu University in Turkey. He oversaw eight companies’ operations, finance, and purchasing under Eduka Group, Turkey, in the education, logistics, botanics and landscaping, construction sectors. He has over fifteen years of experience as a finance and management executive, focusing on US – Turkey trade relations and Turkish American businesses. He specializes in operations, business strategy, trade, finance, entrepreneurship and startups. Currently, he is serving as Director of the Mergen Group LLC, a financial advisory, strategy and management consulting firm. He worked as the General Operations Director at Turkish Coffee Lady, Inc. ( TCL), a specialty coffee company focusing on retail & online business and catering services. He led business development and prepared the company for franchising. Before TCL, He served as the Chief Financial Officer for Fokus Inc, sporting goods manufacturing company based in Bay Area, CA. He also served as a consultant and advisor to Turkish companies in the defense, wood product manufacturing and food sectors investments in North America. He is a current member of Fenerbahce S.K., Istanbul.

Engin Ates
Engin AtesMid Central Region Vice President

Mr. Engin Ates was born in Erzincan, raised in Tunceli and Istanbul. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Bahcesehir University as a Computer Engineer. After graduation, he moved to the US and got his Master in Science Degree at Kent State University. After graduation, he worked as a Forensic Software Programmer for 3 years, and he joined the Cleveland Clinic and has been working at Cleveland Clinic for 10 years As a Software Analyst and Project Manager, he involved in the development of the Cleveland Clinic web sites and various supporting applications. He is currently working at IT Cybersecurity Department as an Enterprise Cybersecurity Engineer to securing all the applications and websites. Mr. Ates has actively been involved with Turkish American organizations since he moved to the US. He served as VP of the Turkish American Society of Northeast Ohio (TASNO) for two years. He is currently serving as the President of TASNO.  In the summer of 2021, they are planning to open Ataturk and Women Statues at the Turkish Cultural Garden in Cleveland. Mr. Ates is married with two sons and a daughter. He is using his free time mostly at the farm with kids. He has sheep, goats, bees, alpacas, chickens, orchard and grapes, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry bushes.

Yucel Burdurlu
Yucel BurdurluMidwest Region Vice President

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.

Dr. Levent Onat
Dr. Levent OnatSoutheast Region Vice President

Dr. Levent Onat is from Izmir, Turkiye, and his childhood was marked by a unique experience of living in seven different cities across the country. Before venturing beyond Turkish borders, he explored every nook and cranny of his homeland. Armed with a strong academic foundation, he obtained both his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Environmental Engineering.

Embarking on a diverse career, Dr. Onat served as a researcher at the University of Stuttgart and contributed his expertise as an environmental engineer in Turkiye’ s private sector. Upon relocating to the United States, he pursued further education, earning an additional M.S. degree from Auburn University in environmental engineering and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in interdisciplinary engineering, specializing in health, safety, and environmental (HSE) engineering.

With over two decades of experience as an HSE Professional, Dr. Onat boasts a versatile background spanning industries like chemicals, oil & gas, foundry, automotive, wood manufacturing, and academia. Recognized as an authorized outreach instructor/trainer for the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), he currently holds the position of Program Manager, Occupational Health and Safety, overseeing operations in the United States and Canada for the world’s largest global and privately held industrial gases company.

Beyond his professional achievements, Dr. Onat is deeply involved in various Turkish community organizations. Actively participating in Turkish student organizations and Turkish and American Associations since his relocation to the United States. He currently serves as the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA)’s Southeast Regional Vice President and as the President of the Turkish American Association of Alabama (TAAA). He also contributes to the U.N. Relations Committee of ATAA.

Residing in Alabama with his wife since 2001, Dr. Onat finds joy in diverse interests, including travel, swimming, electronics design and repair, and cherished moments spent with family and friends. His commitment to community service and passion for his pursuits exemplify a life rich in experiences and meaningful connection.

Erkan Demirağcı
Erkan DemirağcıWestern Region Vice President

Mr. Erkan Demirağcı, born and raised in İzmir-Karşıyaka, graduated from Dokuz Eylül University with a degree in Business Administration and moved to the US in 1994 to continue his graduate studies. After working in various different companies in management positions currently he is Senior Mortgage Loan Consultant & Real estate professional since 2003.  He resides in Orange County, CA. Erkan been very active in the Turkish American community since 2012.  He has been serving the boards of Orange County Turkish American Association (OCTAA) and Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California (ATASC).  He has been the president of OCTAA for the last 5 years. He is passionate about social entrepreneurship, leadership and promoting grassroots efforts in the Turkish American community. He also served at World Affairs Council of Orange County as a Program Committee Council member in order to help create better relationships with other communities. (2016-2020) Since he became president of the OCTAA, he has established close and sincere relationships with local, state and federal administrators in order to protect the interests of the Turkish American community.

Tufan Erdinç
Tufan ErdinçNorthwest Region Vice President

Mr. Tufan Erdinç was appointed as ATAA Northwest Region Vice President in February 2021. He is currently a software Engineer for Oracle. He was born in Mardin, Turkey and raised in Izmir, Turkey. He has completed his B.Sc. from Ege University in Izmir, and MS degree in Computer Engineering from Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir. He has been living in the greater Seattle area since 2000 where he first joined Microsoft Corporation as a software engineer. He started serving in the Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington (TACAWA) Board as Vice President in 2015 and was responsible of managing and administering technology and IT infrastructure of the organization. He was elected President of the TACAWA Board of Directors in 2016 and has been voluntarily working to carry out TACAWA’s mission and goals since then. Outside of work Tufan is interested in watching sports, playing soccer and is full time dad for two young boys.

Pervin Karamete
Pervin KarameteNew York Region Vice President

Ms. Pervin Karamete was appointed as ATAA New York Region Vice President in October 2023. Pervin Karamete was born in Ankara, Turkey. Karamete family settled in New Jersey, USA when she was a small child. Being a very accomplished student, Pervin not only excelled academically but also received honorable mention awards in volleyball, for her achievements in Junior Olympics. She started her career at Brooks Brothers after studying “Management and Marketing” at Fashion Institute of Technology. Her career blossomed after working with Perry Ellis and Henry Grethel. Along the way she started working with various Hollywood stars and legends like Jack Nicholson, Gregory Heins, Alec Baldwin, John Tesh and Kim Basinger. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to establish her own company for design and production where she was also a consultant for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karen.  Doing all this work she never stayed away from her community. Being a good standing member of the community, she served as the Vice President of the “Turkish American Community Center” and opened community’s first “Mustafa Kemal Ataturk School” in New Jersey. She was elected as the president of the association in 2018 where she expanded the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk School to a second location in Clifton NJ. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, she was able to offer online classes and continue educating young members of our society. Eventually reopening the two locations in 2021 successfully, she announced the opening of the third location in Summit NJ in 2023. She was recently reelected for the presidency of the “Turkish American Community Center” where she continues to serve our community.

Board of Trustees (2023)

Dr. Bülent Başol, Chairman
Kenan Çağlar
Turgut Çakırağa
Kürşad Doğru
Dr. Selim Erhan
Dr. Fatma Gül
Ergün Kırlıkovalı
Davut Okutçu
İbrahim Onaral
Dr. Ülkü Ülgür
Nurten Ural

Honorary Board of Trustees Members

Bonnie Kaslan
Engin Holmstrom

Committees

ATAA Advocacy and Outreach Committee

  • Erkan Demirağcı, ATAA  Western Region VP
  • Dr. Selim Erhan, ATAA Board of Trustees Member
  • Ergün Kırlıkovalı, ATAA Board of Trustees Member

ATAA Rules Committee

  • Dr. Ülkü Ülgür, Chairperson and ATAA Board of Trustees Member
  • Kürşad Doğru, ATAA Board of Trustees Member
  • Gökhan Özalp, ATAA Former President

ATAA Education Committee

  • Dr. Mehmet Yaya, Co-Chair and ATAA Treasurer
  • Lale Iskarpatyoti, Co-Chair and Secretary, Turkish American Friendship Society of US – TAFSUS
  • Hülya Koç, Founder, Empowering the Turkish American Community – ETAC
  • Cennet Köse Rivera, Former President,  Maryland American Turkish Association -MATA
  • Dr. Ülkü Ülgür, ATAA Board of Trustees Member

ATAA Social Media Committee

  • Burcu Tansu, ATAA Western Region Past VP
  • Hakan Dakın, ATAA Art, Media and Communications Director

ATAA Membership Committee

  • Yücel B. Tavolara, Chair, ATAA Midwest Region VP
  • Dr. Nilüfer Esen-Bilgin, ATAA President
  • Engin Ateş, ATAA Mid Central Region VP
  • Dr. Mehmet Yaya, ATAA Treasurer

ATAA Music and Visual Arts Committee

  • Dr. Nilüfer Esen-Bilgin, ATAA President
  • Yücel Burdurlu Tavolara, ATAA Midwest Region VP
  • İbrahim Onaral, ATAA Board of Trustees Member
  • Tiraje Guneyman Ruckman

ATAA Newsletter Committee

  • Yücel Burdurlu Tavolara, ATAA Midwest Region VP
  • Alev Wieland,  ATAA Southwest Region VP

ATAA UN Relations Committee

Executive Officers:

  • Dr. Nilüfer Esen-Bilgin, ATAA President
  • Yücel Burdurlu Tavolara, Co-Chair, ATAA Midwest Region VP
  • Alev Wieland, Co-Chair and ATAA Southwest Region VP
  • Saime Atakan, Youth Representative

Members:

  • Levent Onat, ATAA Southeast Region VP
  • Burcu Tansu, ATAA Western Region Past VP
  • Demet Edeer, Turkish Canadian Society President
  • Çiğdem Çınaroğlu, Turkish Canadian Society VP
  • Atakan Şengül, Turkish Canadian Society VP
  • Nilgün Özsoy, Indiana American Turkish Association Past President
  • Dr. Fatma Gül, Contemporary Education Foundation President
  • Zuhal Kavak, Turkish-Canadian Society Director of Strategy
  • Sina Kutluay, Turkish-Canadian Society Secretary
  • Ali Alp Gürer, ATAA UN Youth Representative

ATAA Youth Committee

  • Mehmet Efe Taşcıoğlu, Co-Founder & Chair
  • Ela Elmas, Co-Founder & Vice Chair
  • Eren Okuyucu, Co-Founder & Secretary
  • Dr. Nilüfer Esen-Bilgin, ATAA President
  • Yenal Küçüker, ATAA Capital Region VP

Central Office

Hakan Dakin, Art, Media & Communication Director