The ATAA 33rd Annual Convention and 2013 Turkish American National Leadership Conference
May 6, 2013
The 33rd Annual Turkish American National Convention was held on April 25-27, 2013 at the office of Turkish Coalition of America and Washington Plaza Hotel, in Washington, D.C.
The three day conference featured diverse panels on various topics related to public advocacy, science, commerce, technology, stories of the Peace Corps, the plight of Turkic peoples, literature, and youth leadership. Equally striking were the presence of high-ranking figures and talks given by Egeman Bagis, Turkey’s Minister of EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator, Muhtar Kent , Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola, Kemal Dervis ,Vice President of Brookings Institute, Virginia Foxx , US Congresswoman, Matthew Langie, Vice President of Strategic Marketing of Adobe Systems, and several others.
Muhtar Kent,Chairman of the Board and CEO of Coca-Cola, at Turkish American National Leadership Conference
Egemen Bagis, Kemal Dervis, and Muhtar Kent were the keynote speakers. Each speaker took a different approach in his presentation: During Friday luncheon, Egemen Bagis spoke of his days of spearheading Turkish-American organizations here in the US and encouraged Turkish-Americans to take a greater role in their communities. On Saturday morning, Kemal Dervis took center stage at breakfast, with his presentation titled “The Rising Turkish Economy in the 21st Century.” He made a political analysis of Turkey and its role in today’s world. During Saturday luncheon, Muhtar Kent gave a seminar-like presentation on what he deemed to be the key points to success.
Though Abdullah Gul, President of the Republic of Turkey, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister, were unable to attend, they and a series of other officials from both the US and Turkey extended their best wishes for the event and commended the participating organizations and attendees for their activism in the Turkish-American community. The messages of encouragement were read by a group of young Turkish-American student leaders at the Washington Plaza Hotel, during the opening of the second-half of the conference.
Furthermore, Turkey’s Ambassador to the US, H.E. Namik Tan, shared a panel on US-Turkish relations with the US Ambassador to Turkey, Francis J. Ricciardone. Ambassadors from several other countries and territories provided their insights to the audience on a panel moderated by Suat Kiniklioglu, a Former Member of Turkish Parliament. The list of honorable panelists included HE Gilbert Galanxhi, Ambassador of Albania, HE Jadranka Negodic, Ambassador for Bosnia Herzegovina, HE Akan Ismaili, Ambassador of Kosovoa, HE Oliver Krliu, Deputy Chief of Mission of Macedonia, HE Dr. Elmi Ahmed Duale, UN Ambassador of Somalia, and HE Ahmet Erdengiz, DC Representative for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
ATAA Awards Presented to Turkish-American Community Leaders
In addition to its numerous and intensive panels, the conference included a reception at the Turkish Embassy and Gala during which several awards were presented to Turkish-American leaders, concluding the event with both heart-felt laughter and tears. The convention also welcomed the arrival of ATAA’s new president-elect, Mehmet Celebi, and Mehmet Toy, bidding an adieu wrapped in well-wishes to former presidents Gunay Evinch and Ergun Kirlikovali.
The “First Turkish/Turkic American Davos” had something to offer for everyone and its content reflected the diversity of its numerous sponsors. Following are statements made by young Turkish-American leaders regarding their impressions of the conference:
“The most important part of the conference was that Turkish-American leaders from academia, business, and government not only came together to discuss ideas and share their experiences, but also actively reached out to the next generation of “Young Turks.” Ufuk Kahya, Policy Advisor, U.S. House of Representatives
“ATAA’s 33rd conference was very inspiring from so many points. I got a chance to meet so many amazing people from all over the USA. I will be here next year too!” Bertan Kilkis, Student at VCU
“The most important aspect of this conference was communication. It was the perfect opportunity for Turkic-Americans from several generations to come together, preserve culture, share ideas, and advance education. I had a lot of fun seeing old friends and making new ones. I can’t wait until next year!” Erin Kaya, Lewis and Clark HS, Spokane, WA
“It is my first year in this convention , and I am glad ATAA gave me the opportunity to participate. I made really good connections and networks and also learned a lot from the experts during the sessions. I would like to participate in the following conventions and contribute more by being a volunteer.” Seza Zerman, Graduate Student, Rochester Institute of Technology
The 33rd Annual Turkish American National Convention was made possible by the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations (ATAA), the Azerbaijani American Council (AAC), American Friends of Turkey (AFOT), Azerbaijan Society of America (ASA), Ahiska Turkish Community Center of Dayton (ATACC), American Turkish Council (ATC), Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA), Turkish American Business Association, American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (TABA-AMCHAM), Turkish American Community Center (TACC), Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI), Turkish American Scientists and Scholars Association (TASSA), and the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA).
Turkish American Television is a proud media sponsor of 2013 Turkish American National Leadership Conference in Washington, DC.
Turkish American Television Satff Writer Ozgul Andican contributed to this report
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