ATAA UN Related Announcement# 29

In Support of  “World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development: (21 May)

Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), and
Empowering the Turkish American Community (ETAC-USA)

Present a Webinar on:

The Splendor of Istanbul: A Journey Through Time and Tradition

Saturday, May 11, 2024
1:00pm ET, 12:00pm CT, 10:00am PT, 20:00 TR

– – – Online Registration – – –

 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Language: English



On May 11, 2024, The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) and Empowering the Turkish American Community (ETAC USA) , formally both associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications (DGC), will hold a virtual event titled “The Splendor of Istanbul: A Journey Through a Time and Tradition” in support of (May 21) – World Day for cultural Diversity for Dialog and Development (A/RES/57/249). Protecting the diversity of cultural expressions is more important than ever. Cultural diversity is a driving force of economic development and growth, also to leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. It is essential to maintain intercultural dialogue among cultures for achieving peace and sustainable development in the world.

Program Introduction

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (May 21).  As Turkish and Turkic people, every year we have opportunity to celebrate Turkish and Turkic culture, history, arts and gastronomy; educate children, youth and adults.  We also have opportunity to start dialog with other cultures to cultivate mutual understanding and opportunity for peaceful partnerships to support UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Why does cultural diversity matter?

According to UNESCO data, the cultural and creative sector is one of the most powerful engines of development worldwide. It accounts for more than 48 million jobs globally –almost half of which are held by women – representing 6.2% of all existing employment and 3.1% of global GDP. It is also the sector that employs and provides opportunities for the largest number of young people under the age of 30.

Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.

Our world of modern civilization depends on it.

Anatolia is a melting pot for many ethnic groups and religions. Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, and many other minorities lived together peacefully and in harmony for 800 years and continue to do so today.

In this program we would like to showcase richness of the Turkish culture, arts, and gastronomy.  As the American citizens with Turkish descent living in USA, our cultural diversity plays a very important role in the social and economic development of a country we live in.

Open Dialog of cultural diversity through innovative use of media and Information and Communications Technologies   How can we close gaps, establish mutual understanding and create partnerships for peace and human rights?




ETAC Children’s Choir video

Opening Remarks and Introduction by
Dr. Nilüfer Esen-Bilgin
ATAA President

Nağme Erberk


Nagme Erberk

Dr. Selim Erhan
ATAA Trustee and ATAA UN Committee Member

Şaduman Gloria Güzel
Entrepreneur Businesswomen

Zeynep Damarlı
ETAC USA Coordinator

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Firuzan Melike Sümertaş 
Urban and Architectural Historian
From «Εἰς τὴν Πόλιν» to Istanbul: Architectural Diversity Unveiled

Duygu Gün
Co-Founder Anatolian Arts Institute
Bridging Worlds: Music as a Cultural Connector

Gizem Kılınç
AHLA  Industry Research in Government Affairs Director
Diversity in Sustainable Gastronomy

Youth Perspective

Dr. Selim Erhan
ATAA Trustee and ATAA UN Committee Member
Importance of Engaged and Proud Youth of Their Culture

Alya Rana
Leesville Road High School Student
Cultural Diversity

Cihan Kepenek
Top 5 things I love about Turkish Culture and Türkiye

Mazlum Koşma, ATAA Past President and Bridge to Anatolia Group
Saz-Hasan Irier, Percussion-Zeren Irier
Turkish Folk Music (Türkü) “Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım”

Upcoming programs announcement by

Yücel Burdurlu
Co-Chair ATAA UN Committee & ATAA Midwest Region VP

Closing Remarks by

Alev Wieland
Co-Chair ATAA UN Committee & ATAA First VP & ATAA Southwest Region VP




Dr. Firuzan Melike Sümertaş

Urban and Architectural Historian

She earned her degree in Architecture from METU, Ankara, and completed her Ph.D. in History at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. Her research primarily delves into the urban context of Istanbul, focusing particularly on the history of the Greek Orthodox community within the city. Currently, she is exploring digital methods in historical research, such as data analysis and mapping.

Sümertaş contributes as a researcher within the collaborative, led by Christine Philliou at UC Berkeley, and as a co-curator for the Phanariot Materialities project hosted by ANAMED at Koç University, Istanbul. Additionally, she is a visiting lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Department of History for the current academic year. Back in Turkey she has worked at a variety of universities including Anadolu University, Eskişehir, MEF, Kadir Has, Boğaziçi and Kent Universities of Istanbul.

Previously, Sümertaş was awarded the Fulbright Cultural Exchange Scholarship, through which she spent an academic year at Princeton University. She has also received multiple academic research and mobility grants from institutions such as TUBITAK, the American Research Institute in Turkey, AKMED, the French School at Athens, and the Modern Greek Studies Association. Her research has taken her to archives in Greece, the USA, and the UK, and she has actively participated in conferences and workshops across Europe, North America, North Africa, and South Asia. Sümertaş has contributed articles to various print and online, academic and popular publications. Her research languages are Ottoman Turkish and Modern Greek.

In addition to her research pursuits, Sümertaş has played a role in numerous exhibition projects as a curator, consultant, and researcher, collaborating with institutions such as ANAMED, SALT Galata, and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, primarily within Istanbul.



Duygu Gün

Turkish-American Arts Professional

She is creative producer, musician, artist, filmmaker, and curator based in San Francisco since 2012. She is passionate about preserving folk culture and fostering intercultural connections through the universal language of music and arts that transcends borders.

In 2019, she received a Curatorial Residency at SOMArts to curate the ‘Sounds Like Home: Longing and Comfort Through Lullabies’ exhibition that delved into the emotional and cultural significance of lullabies, transcending linguistic and geographical boundaries.

In 2022, she co-founded Anatolian Arts Institute to build bridges among the Anatolian diaspora in the US and to introduce Anatolian Arts and Culture through participatory workshops, performances, research, and educational activities celebrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the region. She received an SFAC Artist Grant in 2023 for the ‘Balkancisco’ documentary about the vibrant Balkan Music Scene in the Bay Area as the creative producer, writer, and narrator.

She performs with her guitar-accordion duo, Nakarat, covering Mediterranean folk songs in Turkish, Ladino, Greek, Griko, and Italian in the Bay Area. Nakarat’s performances serve as a celebration of cultural diversity and a testament to the power of music to unite people across borders. In recognition of her cultural and artistic achievements, Duygu was awarded the TOYP – Turkey’s 10 Outstanding Young Persons’ Cultural Achievement in 2022, further solidifying her status as a trailblazer in the arts community.



Gizem Kılıç

Director, Industry Research, Government Affairs at American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)

Gizem Kilic is currently the Director of Industry Research in Government Affairs at the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Prior to that, Gizem worked as a Research Assistant at the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. With a background in hotel administration, Gizem has conducted research on sustainable practices and finance in the hospitality industry.

Gizem has also gained experience in various roles at companies like Park Hotel and Hyatt Hotels Corporation, showcasing their expertise in event planning, sustainability, and corporate leadership.

Gizem holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Hotel Administration, a Master of Science in Hotel Administration, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gastronomy and Culinary Arts, among other educational accomplishments.



Cihan Kepenek

Cihan Kepenek was born in San Francisco, CA and grew up in Istanbul, Türkiye. At the age of 15, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he graduated from high school.

Chihan currently full time student at Arizona State University, majoring in Global Studies with a minor in French. He plans continuing his education by pursuing a master’s and a PhD.

His career aspiration is to work at the United Nations as an ambassador, representing the Republic of Türkiye and serving as its voice on the global stage.



Alya Rana

Leesville Road High School Student

Alya was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 2006 and migrated to the US around 2013. She is an 11th grader in Leesville Road High School located in Raleigh NC, and is pursuing her education in filmmaking after graduation.

She is a member of National Honor Society, International Thespian Society, and is assistant technical director in the theater department of her high school.

She has also won student of the year for Adobe Visual and Video Design for the last two years, volunteering as a graphic designer for her school and ATA-NC.
From playing piano to opening an art gallery, she’s been focusing on releasing a graphic novel and having it published before 2025.

Her dream is to become a producer and a film director by using her stories and cross-cultural experiences.



Mazlum Koşma

ATAA Past President

Mr. 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.



Alev Wieland

ATAA UN Committee Co-Chair, ATAA First VP  and ATAA Southwest Region VP

Alev Wieland has Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Cincinnati, OH. Worked for Belcan Engineering at Proctor of Gamble as Project engineer for 7 years. Since she retired from PepsiCo, Inc-AMEA Capability Director in 2012, she formed Manufacturing Excellence Technical Services and Alev Cosmetics companies.

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.  Alev serves as the First VP, Southwest Region Vice President, Chairs the Community Newsletter Committee and Co-Chair of UN Relations Committee of Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA).  Alev is very active at her local city and Main Street Organizations, provides support in an advisory capacity.


Nağme Erberk

Empowering the Turkish American Community (ETAC USA) Vice President

Fosters community connections and promotes sustainable development through the creation of healthy and secure environments.

She oversees all aspects of the organization, driving its mission, fundraising efforts, operations, and engagement with the board of directors, donors and volunteers. Nagme is particularly passionate about leveraging Marketing and Product Development strategies to enhance community-building capabilities.

She earned her BA in Business Administration and Economics from Istanbul Bilgi University. She brings a decade of finance experience and expertise in Istanbul prior to relocating to San Francisco. In addition, Nağme has briefly served as a PR, Advertising & Marketing coordinator/manager roles for various companies and holds certifications in Digital Marketing from UC Berkeley and Stanford University.



Dr. Selim Erhan

ATAA Trustee and ATAA UN Committee Member

Dr. Selim Erhan was born in Istanbul Turkey. After graduating with a chemical engineering degree from the University of Istanbul, he continued his studies at Western Michigan University with a Ph.D. in Polymer-Organic Chemistry. After teaching at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College and Lake Michigan College, he started a research career first at the USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL.  He continued his career in the private industry, working on application of bio-based products to industrial applications.

Dr. Erhan started actively working on introducing Turkey and the Turkish Culture in USA while studying at Western Michigan University in 1980. He joined the Turkish American Cultural Alliance in 2000 and became active in educational activities and in 2009. He was the co-founder of the highly successful TACA – Public Outreach Program, aiming at educating middle school, high school and university students on important issues.  The Public Outreach Organization brought speakers like Prof. Justin McCarthy, Prof. Turkkaya Ataov, Emre Kongar and Lincoln McCurdy. 

In 2013 he joined TACA’s Board of Directors and became the Director of the Ataturk School and the Adult Turkish School. Continued as the TACA Public Outreach Chair preparing seminars and conferences to reach out and enlighten the public in the Midwest region.

Dr. Erhan was elected as ATAA’s Midwest Region VP  2015 to 2019.  He has continued working at ATAA, helped to form the UN Committee and was instrumental to form the highly successful Turkish American Presidents Group under ATAA, improving communications with the Component Associations in USA and pulling in similar Turkish organizations from Canada. In 2022, he was elected to ATAA’s Board of Trustees.



Yücel Burdurlu–Tavolara

ATAA UN Committee Co-Chair and ATAA Midwest Region VP

Yücel Burdurlu–Tavolara was born and raised in Istanbul Türkiye. 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.



Şaduman Gloria Güzel

Entrepreneur Businesswomen

Ms. Güzel is a Turkish-American citizen who was born in Agrı, Türkiye.  She moved with her family to İstanbul when she was one year old. She lived there for 40 years where she finished interior design school.

In 1999, she moved to the United States to assist with her son’s education. Her son was a national/international swimmer and swam for Ohio State University.

In April, 2024, she established the SF KAYMAK COMPANY, making traditional Turkish kaymak (cream) and yogurt varieties, filling an unmet need for Turkish communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

She previously worked as a real estate agent in Arizona for 21st Century, writing articles every month for Emlak Dergisi in Turkiye. In her spare time, Şaduman enjoys painting, cooking, sewing (especially ball gowns), opera, reading, playing golf, traveling and volunteering for Turkish cultural events.



Zeynep Damarlı

Empowering the Turkish American Community (ETAC USA) Coordinator

Ms. Damarlı has over 15 years of experience as a Data Analyst in the fields of banking, finance, and technology. She currently works in Google Ad Search since 2018. With a track record of success across finance, data analytics, and community development, she is poised to make meaningful contributions wherever she goes, driven by her passion for positive change and sustainable growth.

She holds a BA in Economics and a MS in Financial Economics from Istanbul Bilgi University. She got a Data Analytics certificate from UC Berkeley.


For further inquiries, please e-mail, (Alev Wieland, Co-Chair & ATAA Southwest Region VP) or (Nağme Uçar Erberk, ETAC Vice-President)

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