THO Team

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.

Ali Cinar

President, Turkish Heritage Organization and Senior Diplomatic Journalist

A Turkish American, Cinar has dedicated much of his life to Turkish American causes and joined THO to help advance U.S.-Turkey relations. He has served as the President of the Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA) as well as the Northeast Vice President of the Assembly of Turkish American Association. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke praised Cinar’s leadership of the FTAA, noting that under his leadership, “this Federation has become a well-known and respected institution in our community.”
Ali Cinar has  been in journalism since 2002 starting with Turk of America Magazine ( which is the first Turkish-American magazine in the U.S. He has also  half page column called “Agenda in the U.S.” at Milliyet Newspaper that is one of the most well-known Turkish daily newspapers published in Istanbul, Turkey since 1950.  ( ) He has been broadcasting for Turkish TV Channels such as CNNTurk as a journalist since 2018.

He also has been writing articles and news for the Turkish Journal since 2011. He is a credentialed reporter with the United Nations,NYPD and the U.S. State Department and has been published in international publications including Washington Post, World Affairs, Washington Times, U.S News, SAIS (John Hopkins University Publication), The Jerusalem Post, NBC News(quotation), The Politico Europe (quotation), Fox News(quotation), The Hill, Daily Caller and many more.

He is a member of United Nations Correspondent Association, American Press Association, NY Press Club, Association of Foreign Correspondents in the USA  and Society of Professional Journalist.
Ali Cinar was testified at the U.S. Congress on Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee in 2016 and 2017. He appeared on PBS News Hour, CBNC, FOX Business,  Fox News Radio, Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Radio, BBC TV, BBC Radio, NewsMax TV, Al Jazeera English, Canada TV, Al Jazeera Arabic, I24 News, Voice of America, France 24, CGTV, SkyNews, CNN Turk, NTV, Haberturk TV, A News, TRT Haber, Ekoturk TV, TRT World and Halk TV.
Over the course of his career, Cinar has earned a number of accolades including Leader of the Year by the Assembly of Turkish American Association, One of the Top 10 Most Successful Young People by Junior Chamber International (JCI), and one of the 50 Most Influential Turkish Americans by Turk of America Magazine.

Ali Cinar was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2019 and was the youngest Turkish American to receive this distinction in over 30 years.He recently also received a "Community Service Award' by NYPD MT&S.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from the Istanbul University, Cinar moved to the United States to continue his education. While completing his master’s degree at the University of New Haven, he worked as a Research Assistant at​ the Communication Department and Center of Professional Ethics.

During that time he also served as the President of the International Students Association and was awarded the “Outstanding International Student” Award.
Cinar has earned various executive certificates from Harvard University, MIT and New York University.
Savannah Lane

Executive Director, Turkish Heritage Organization

Born in Houston, Texas and raised in Richmond, Virginia Savannah Lane found her passion for politics and understanding the realm of international advocacy at a young age when she became Virginia’s inaugural ANNPower Fellow (a program created by Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright). Through this program Savannah was exposed to leaders from around the world and worked with mentors as an ANNPower national grant winner.

Savannah went on to study Foreign Affairs/Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Virginia, serve as a Resident Advisor and work for a Senate reelection campaign doing research surrounding foreign policy issues.  Savannah continued her work in the political realm as a program associate at a political consulting firm working in digital media, social media, outreach, event planning and fundraising. 

Through Savannah’s extensive service and advocacy work she won the title of Miss Virginia 2015 in the Miss America Organization and worked in media realms with Dick Clark Productions, national nonprofits, Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, the American Heart Association and more. Through this opportunity Savannah won talent and Quality of Life award designations for her service and commitment to the community. 

Savannah moved to Washington D.C. after she was one of eight women selected from across the country to serve as a Star Fellow for Running Start in a congressional office. Through this program, Savannah honed her communication and strategy skills, mentored and trained to run for political office and advocated for women in underrepresented fields.

Savannah has continued her efforts in the space of international relations and transatlantic security serving as a media commentator on international news outlets, and further advocating for women in the field of international security and unrepresented industries.

 As one of ten Americans selected for a unique fellowship in conflict resolution/peace/security negotiations, Savannah trained in Morocco further developing her passion for international policy and advocacy work surrounding conflict resolution and peace negotiation. 

Savannah is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Security and was recently selected as one of 25 international leaders to take part in the Aspen Institute’s NextGen Leadership Network surrounding the transatlantic initiatives.

Savannah also serves as the founder of the group Women of Washington to allow and foster mentorship and empowerment for young professional women interested in politics in foreign affairs. 

Savannah is eager to use her unique experiences and passion for international relations to help promote an understanding of the importance of NATO, Turkish and American relations through her role at the THO. 

Catherine Murphy

Catherine Murphy is a graduate of the University of San Francisco’s International Studies program and a passionate advocate for human rights and international cooperation. During her undergraduate career, she spent a semester in Peru doing bilingual field research on indigenous peoples and globalization and studying the indigenous language of Quechua. She is a two-time United Nations Association Emerging Leaders Fellow, and previously served as a delegate for the UNA at the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2020. 

She comes with a broad variety of research experience, including as a Fellow in the California State Assembly and an Autonomous Vehicle Research Fellow with the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency. Most recently, she was a Research and Policy Fellow at Pay Our Interns, the nation’s leading nonprofit fighting for equitable access to career advancement for low-income communities. 

She is excited to continue her work at the Turkish Heritage Organization, and looks forward to expanding her working knowledge about US-Turkish relations and foreign policy more generally. 

Beliz Aluc

Beliz is a student at Pomona College in California, majoring in International Relations and minoring in History. Because of her Turkish background, she is highly interested in Turkish-US bilateral relations. This past summer, she had a chance to work with torganization that gave her a chance to attend many hearings and events on U.S.-Turkey Relations as well as Middle Eastern conflicts. She hopes to contribute her own unique perspective to the THO research team.

Jackie Schluger

Jackie Schluger is a current undergraduate student at the George Washington University studying International Affairs and security policy with a minor in Arabic. She has previously worked for international NGOs in the Middle East, on Capitol Hill, and for human rights and security nonprofits. During her time at THO, Jackie looks forward to connecting with more international experts throughout D.C. as well as furthering her research on NATO security issues and U.S.-Turkey relations. 

Angelina Sandora

Angelina Sandora is a student at Michigan State University in her last year studying international relations with minors in Italian, Jewish Studies, and European Studies. Within her studies in international relations she has developed a strong interest in the EU and NATO. She has done different advocacy work domestically and internationally. Most recently working with NGOs focusing on religious freedom. During her time in THO, she looks forward to learning more from experts in the field and really delve deeper into her passion. Angelina Sandora is a student at Michigan State University in her last year studying international relations with minors in Italian, Jewish Studies, and European Studies. Within her studies in international relations she has developed a strong interest in the EU and NATO. She has done different advocacy work domestically and internationally. Most recently working with NGOs focusing on religious freedom. During her time in THO, she looks forward to learning more from experts in the field and really delve deeper into her passion.

Jimmy Basch

Jimmy is a recent graduate of Stockton University. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Historical Studies. Throughout his undergraduate career, he spent time studying the political situation and history of the near east. Last fall he had the opportunity to work for a human rights advocacy NGO based in DC. That experience strengthened skills such as research and allowed him to apply much of the information he was learning at Stockton. He considers what he studies to also be a passion. He is excited to apply more of what he has learned at university, expand his knowledge of Turkish-American bilateral relations, and connect with others in the field.

Amelia Atalay

Amelia Atalay holds a B.A. in International & Global Studies with minors in Economics and Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies from Brandeis University. She is currently pursuing her MA in International Affairs with a concentration in Diplomacy at Boston University. During her undergraduate career, Amelia spent time studying and working in Brussels, London, Istanbul, and Washington D.C. She is primarily interested in the U.S.-Turkey relationship and Turkey's political position in the Middle East. With the Turkish Heritage Organization, Amelia is excited to learn alongside professionals in the field, engage in conversations and research on NATO, and promote positive U.S.-Turkey relations.