Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) , a non-profit organization working to promote discussion and dialogue around issues of importance in the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship as well as Turkey’s role in the international community.
President, Turkish Heritage Organization and Senior Diplomatic Journalist
Executive Director, Turkish Heritage Organization
Communications and Media Intern
Kyla Russell is an undergraduate student in Multimedia Journalism and News at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. She initially found her interest in politics after coordinating blood drives in her community, realizing the impact thoughtful and principled leadership has on localities. Kyla recently completed an internship on Capitol Hill. Additionally, she serves as the News editor of her student publication, The Echo. Having served on a state senate campaign in 2020, she was compelled to serve her school as a student senator. Each of these experiences furthers her interests in political communication, cultural diversity, and foreign policy.
With these passions, Kyla hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the NATO Alliance and US-Turkey relations and effectively contribute to ongoing discussions.
Sammie Ellard was born and raised in Northern California and is an undergraduate student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California. She is earning a degree in Political Science with a concentration in Global Politics and a minor in French. Sammie has a deep enthusiasm about international affairs and global politics due to her extensive travels throughout Europe and courses at university. Sammie has appreciated learning about the significance of shared histories and present-day events in international affairs as well as the necessity of a diverse cohort in forming foreign policy.
As a participant of The Washington Center’s Summer Internship Program, Sammie hopes to diversify her knowledge of foreign policy and explore her aspirations in the field of international affairs. She hopes to use her experiences and knowledge to bring new ideas and analyses while gaining a diverse understanding of US-Turkey relations and NATO policies.
Alec Becker is an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut. He plans to obtain a B.A. in political science ahead of his final year of education, and go on to attend graduate school for national security and foreign affairs. Alec’s interest in international politics stems from global conflict zones and political violence that he began to observe at a young age. The Middle East frequently engages in armed conflicts between state and non-state actors which is why Turkey’s role in the region is such a suitable fit for him. He acknowledges the significance of Turkey’s alliance with the U.S. and why Turkey is responsible for the proliferation of stability within the Middle East. He hopes that his passion for armed conflict and political violence will add a unique perspective to his internship program.
Alec looks forward to his time at the THO in order to gain real insight into how foreign policy is conducted and to be exposed to members of the D.C. community. He has no doubt that the THO will supply him with the skills and experience needed for a career in international politics after graduation.
Alyssa Kuraishi is an undergraduate student in Political Science with a focus on International Security at the University of Washington in Seattle. She speaks Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese and has a passion for current events relating to security and diplomacy as well as domestic politics. She previously worked at a nonpartisan US politics research organization, has helped organize Japanese-American community-building events, and serves as the Vice-President of her school’s Vocal Jazz Club. Through her time at the Turkish Heritage Organization, she hopes to gain a greater understanding of the potential in US-Turkish relations and of the importance of NATO and International collaboration.