THO Non-Resident Fellow Visit to Washington, D.C.

As part of the THO Non-Resident Fellowship Program, the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted the Turkish-based Non-Resident Fellows for a week in Washington D.C. to continue to foster a dialogue surrounding U.S.-Turkish relations. The participants included: Ipek Ariogul, a Senior Economic Advisor in the British Embassy in Turkey focused on researching issues surrounding the economy; Sarah Khalbuss, Co-Founder of Istanbul & I focused on research surrounding Syrian refugees and refugee integration; and Ozge Taylan, a Ph.D. candidate in International relations focused on research on security, the economy, and history. Additionally, we were thrilled to have our Non-Resident Fellowship Co-Chairs Selma Bardakci and Ertugrul Genc join us as well for the program in Washington, D.C. 
The program kicked off with a meeting at the International Monetary Fund with the Alternative Director Omer Bayat and Executive Director Raci Kaya where the fellows discussed the importance of a US-Turkish partnership and strong economic relationship. 

Following social media interviews, the fellows had a dynamic conversation with Dr. Joshua Walker, former Vice President of the American Turkish Council and current Head of Strategic Initiatives at the Eurasia Group, discussing the Washington D.C. perspective of US-Turkish relations and what the fellows can do to strengthen the bilateral relationship from the grassroots level. 

Next, the fellows heard from Clayton Thomas, an analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs from the Congressional Research Service. They discussed the role of the Congressional Research Service on the Hill and their latest released research report on U.S.-Turkey relations. 

The fellows were able to fit in a visit to the U.S. Department of State and tour the iconic monuments of Washington!

The THO Non-Resident Fellows then had the opportunity to meet with THO Advisory Board Member and Deputy Director for Strategy at the Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Dr. Matthew Kroenig. Here the fellows learned more about the mission of the Atlantic Council, the ever-changing global landscape that influences the US-Turkey relation, and Dr. Kroenig’s work in foreign policy/as an advisory member of the THO team.  

Next, the fellows were exposed to different educational programs and systems here in the US from the perspective of THO partner, Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security. The fellows discussed with Dr. Lemon, the DMGS Kennan Institute Fellow, and Dr. Thomas Cynkin- Vice President for External Affairs at the DMGS. Following a conversation on the academic programming and international student opportunities at DMGS, the fellows also were able to learn more about the partnership between THO and DMGS. 
The THO Non-Resident fellows also had very productive discussions with a few members from the Atlantic Council including Chris Skaluba, Director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative, Daniel Bennett, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Millennium Leadership Program (MLP), and Kate Koett, Associate Director of the Millennium Leadership Program. The fellows were able to discuss the role of the transatlantic partnership between the US and Turkey, NATO, and THO’s partner in the Millennium Leadership Program.

Later in the Week, the THO fellows heard from Gunay Evnich, the Co-Chair of TASC, Aileen Wall from the International Trade Administration, and members from the Turkish Coalition of America for a luncheon meeting. The fellows were able to discuss the importance of grassroots advocacy, economic development, and TCA’s role in fostering increased US-Turkish relations and dialogue.

From cultural tours and a visit at the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, to thoughtful conversations and candid dialogue, the THO Non-Resident fellows had a packed week here in Washington, D.C.  Thank you to our sponsors Turkcell and Turkish Airlines for supporting this program and encouraging the vital conversations that took place. We are eager to see these global changemakers bring back an increased understanding of the U.S.-Turkish relations from the Washington D.C. perspective and look forward to bringing our U.S.-based Nonresident Fellows to Turkey this June!