April 9, 2013 - Turk of America
Guler Köknar is a graduate of the German High School in Istanbul (1985) and the Istanbul University School of Law (1989). She entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey as a career diplomat in 1989 and worked in various capacities until 1994, including as Vice Consul at the Turkish Consulate General in Houston. Leaving the Foreign Service, from 1994 to 2002, Köknar worked as Executive Director of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) in Washington, DC. In 2004, Köknar became Executive Director of the Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF). She also works as Vice President of the Turkish Coalition of America, an organization she helped to establish in 2007. Köknar is married and has a daughter. Over the span of her professional life at Turkish American organizations, Mrs. Köknar has worked to enhance the sense of common mission and the spirit of cooperation in the Turkish American community. Under the visionary leadership and generous support of Drs.Yalçın and Serpil Ayaslı, the founders of TCF, Mrs. Köknar has helped grown TCF grow into the premier Turkish American cultural organization. TCF underwrites and organizes major cultural and art programs related to Turkish culture and art, including festivals, exhibitions, workshops and lectures. Over the years, TCF has also grown into the largest private grant-maker for projects related to Turkish culture. TCF grants have helped launch and grow many cultural programs organized by local Turkish American organizations, such as Turkish cultural and film festivals, exhibitions and lectures, promoting Turkey and the Turkish American heritage to America. TCF’s Turkish American Community Schools Grant has helped establish or expand over a dozen weekend schools by Turkish American local organizations.
Partnering with the World Affairs Councils of America in 2007, the TCF nationwide educational program has reached thousands of American teachers through workshops on Turkey and has taken 348 teachers on the TCF Teacher Study Tours to Turkey. TCF has also introduced over 200 influential Americans from different walks of life to Turkey through the TCF Cultural Tours program. Established as a foreign foundation branch in Turkey in 2005, TCF’s Turkey based programs and grants are contributing to the preservation of Turkey’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. In addition to providing research fellowships on Turkish culture and art to scholars in Turkey and worldwide, TCF recently established the Culinary Arts Institute – YESAM and the Natural Dyes Research and Development Laboratory – DATU in Istanbul to research, preserve and promote Turkey’s culinary and textile heritage.