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.

THO Team
Ali Cinar

President, Turkish Heritage Organization

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.”
Prior to joining THO, Cinar worked as a businessman and journalist. In his career, Cinar has developed and implemented business programs for top global clients and agent networks. Before joining THO, he held positions with Western Union and Concord Industries. He is a credentialed reporter with the United Nations 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 Hill, Daily Caller, Hurriyet Daily News, Daily Sabah and Turk of America.
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 business certificates from Harvard University, MIT and New York University.
Elvir Klempic

Executive Director, Turkish Heritage Organization

Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, raised in Iowa, Elvir’s interest in Turkey was strengthened when he started to work with Turkish-American Community Leaders in the States.  Elvir has worked to ensure Turkey and the United States maintain strong relations and mutual cooperation for a stronger, more democratic, and prosperous world. 

Currently based in Washington D.C., Elvir is a Political Strategist.  Previously, he has worked for the Democratic National Committee, U.S. Department of Energy, a number of political campaigns and non-profit organizations, working to build strong coalitions and increase public awareness and participation in U.S. politics. 

Elvir is the Co-Founder of Bosniak-American Association of Iowa, he has also served as a consultant to a number of non-profit organizations around the country, offering advisement on the advancement of underrepresented communities in various capacities. Elvir is an active voice for ethnic communities in Politics and the Think Tank world. Elvir has traveled the country speaking at a number of political events on behalf of ethnic communities, including the Democratic National Convention.  

As a Political Strategists, in the past Elvir has organized a number of briefings, roundtables, and conferences, from the U.S. Congress to the White House. He has also written for the Huffington Post and German Marshall Fund, and is a frequent media surrogate in Politics and Foreign Policy. Elvir has appeared as a guest expert on networks such as TRT, Al Jazeera, Sirius XM, Al Hurra, A News, Voice of America, and Fox News, amongst others.
Savannah Lane

Programs 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 Senator McCain’s 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 recently 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 Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s congressional office. Through Running Start, a nonpartisan nonprofit promoting women in politics, Savannah honed her communication and strategy skills, mentored and trained to run for political office and advocated for women in underrepresented fields. 

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

Sean Russell

Research and Publications Intern

Home to Los Angeles, California, Sean Russell found his spark for International Affairs after completing his first year at American University. Making the bi-coastal commute, Sean studies International Relations through the lens of Global Economics. He recently concluded an internship with the Congressional office of his home town Representative, Adam Schiff. His short time so far in DC was filled with academic rigor and critical work experience making Sean productive and adaptive for such a young age.

Sean was introduced to the Turkish Heritage Organization through a field trip led by his Professor. Coincidentally, Sean traveled to Turkey shortly after this visit. Cementing his interest in all things Turkey, Sean is thrilled to utilize his ability and help the THO team.