our team

Meet the team behind the happiness! 



BTF Chairperson



Honorary Advisor

Prof. Aziz Sancar is Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He was Born in Savur-Mardin, Türkiye in 1946. He obtained his primary and secondary education in ...


  • Emin Pamucak
  • Şule Kıvanç Ancieta 
  • Bülent Ender 
  • Jordan Scepanski 
  • Gül Bahtiyar
  • Jordan Scepanski 
  • Gonca Soysal
  • Bülent Ender
  • Gonca Soysal 
  • Michelle Woodhouse
  • Gül Yanmaz Karslıgil
  • Sevda Küpoğlu Aleckson
  • Jordan Scepanski 
  • Şule Kıvanç Ancieta 
  • Emin Pamucak 
  • Şule Kıvanç Ancieta
  • Nevin Ertürk 
  • Sevda Küpoğlu Aleckson
  • Okan Murat Dönmez 
  • Vicdan Akyürek



Ayşe was born in 1974 Berlin, Germany. She completed middle and high school in Antalya Koleji on an academic scholarship. She promised to payback her gratitude by serving her community.

Ayşe is a firm believer in active involvement and civic responsibility. She has served as the president of the Law Club in Marmara University. In 1999 after a major earthquake that claimed more than 15.000 lives she co-founded and had served as the coordinator of the DHL Search and Rescue Team for 4 years. She has been actively involved in fundraising efforts for Bridge To Türkiye Fund scholarship projects since 2010. During her BTF WDC leadership she has launched ‘Girls Excel!!” campaign to raise funds and awareness to empower socioeconomically disadvantaged girls in Turkey through education. She has co-chaired International Women’s Day Celebrations that has become an annual event jointly organized by ATA-D.C. and BTF at the Turkish Embassy.


She graduated from Marmara University School of Law and worked at DHL Istanbul for 7 years. In 2003 she got married and moved to United States. She lives in Maryland, is married to Afşin and has two children, Defne and Sarp.

Emin Pamucak was born in 1959 in Kütahya, Turkey to immigrant families from Ottoman Turkish towns in Bulgaria and Greece. After receiving his elementary school education in Karadeniz Ereğli and Ankara, Emin attended middle school and high school in suburban metropolitan Washington, D.C. He holds BS and MS degrees in engineering from Boğazici University and University of Maryland. He has worked at IBM and LENOVO at various corporate capacities at company locations in Minnesota, New York, Connecticut and most recently North Carolina.  Emin lives in Cary with his wife Ayse, and enjoys his retirement hobby of BTF.

A firm believer in “by and for” grassroots civic representation, Emin is involved in community development and advocacy with emphasis in promoting citizen based initiatives and social responsibility. He feels privileged to be a product of two cultures and has been an active member of ATA North Carolina since 1996, serving his community as the President of the Association from 2001 to 2004. He has received Association’s Distinguished Member and Distinguished Leader Awards. In 2004, ATA North Carolina was recognized as ATAA’s Component Association of the Year. In the fall of 2005, Emin was also recognized by the Daughters of Ataturk with a Man of Outstanding Accomplishment Award. He has also served the Turkish-American community as ATAA Vice President for the South Eastern United States from 2004 to 2006.  Emin is a founding member and the President of Bridge to Turkiye Fund. He is also a founding member and former treasurer for Aziz and Gwen Sancar Foundation.  


Ismail Arslan is a native of Turkey (Erzurum – Ispir) and has lived more than half of his life outside his home country. He holds a B.Sc. in Business Administration from Kennedy Western University in CA.
He is currently employed by De Leo Textiles (NJ) as Vice President, Operations and heavily involved with High Point Furniture Market. Ismail is a strong supporter and volunteer of community non-profit organizations. He serves in the BOD’s of ITMA-Showtime, country’s premier fabric market and Piedmont Triad International Visitors Council. He is married and has three children and two grandchildren, lives in High Point, NC since 2001.

Nevin was born and raised in Ankara, Turkey. She received a B.S. degree from Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department of Middle East Technical University in 2005, followed with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. Currently she lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and works as an electrical engineer at Ford Motor Company.

Nevin has been introduced to Bridge to Turkiye Fund through her friends at Georgia Tech when she was looking for a trusted way to give back to children in Turkey. She believes that every child deserves to be given a chance to fulfill their dreams and be the individuals they want to be. Their future should not be restricted by what their communities or the geographies they were born to can offer. She believes education is the best tool to achieve this, and she is thrilled to be part of like-minded volunteers in BTF. 


Dr Bulent Ender immigrated with his parents to Washington D.C. suburbs as a young child in 1970. After pursuing higher education in Richmond, Baltimore and Houston, he settled with his family in Raleigh, NC in 1993. Having practiced medicine for over 30 years, Bulent decided to retire early in 2021 to devote more time to his health, family, lifelong learning and philanthropy.

Bülent is an active member of the Turkish-American community in the Triangle area and is a founding member and the Chairman of the Board of Bridge to Turkiye Fund. He also manages BTF’s Endowment Fund, established with Board of Directors’ charitable contributions. Bulent lives in west Raleigh with his wife Deniz, and enjoys tennis, cycling, swimming and traveling.

Ela Eskinazi born in Ankara, Turkey is a graduate of TED High School and Middle East Technical University with B.Sc. In Management. She attained MBA degree at Purdue University in 2000. She has worked at GE Healthcare for 6 years at various leadership roles and she is certified black-belt. She moved to Charlotte NC in 2006. She has worked in Consumer Banking for the first 5 yrs of her bank tenure at Bank of America, and is currently working as Sales Performance Manager in Healthcare & Institutions Commercial Banking team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Ela is married, has 2 sons. She likes outdoor sports, and cycling and she does painting as a hobby. She has been member of BTF family since 2007 and been involved in different fund raising activities and events. She is a strong advocate of education as a way of liberating minds and societies, and especially women living in poverty.

Dr. Gül Bahtiyar was born in Erzurum, Turkey in 1974. After studying at Beşiktas Atatürk Anatolian High School, she earned her medical degree at Istanbul University, Cerrahpaşa Medical School and moved to the US in 1998 to pursue with her residency. She did research as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, completed her internal medicine residency at Tufts University and endocrinology fellowship and master of public health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She holds a clinical associate professor of medicine degree at NYU Langone Medical Center and works at Woodhull Medical Center.

A daughter of an academic family, Gül is a firm believer in education, vision and gender equality. She is committed to creating opportunities and making differences in the lives of underprivileged and underserved girls and boys in Turkey. She has been actively involved at BTF since 2013 and feels privileged to be part of a community based on trust and compassion. She lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Michelle Deniz Drousé Woodhouse is a social entrepreneur, consultant, dancer and new mom currently living in Troy, Michigan. She has 15 years of experience managing organizations and projects focused on community development, urban design, innovation, women’s empowerment, and Middle Eastern dance in California, Michigan and the United Kingdom. She has a BA in Environmental Analysis and Design and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine.

Michelle co-founded the Orange County Turkish American Association and served as the Chairman of the Board. She also served as Vice Chairman of the Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California and led the Orange County Multicultural Coalition. Michelle is married to David and they have a daughter Ava Elâ.

Şule was born in Samsun, Turkey. During her childhood years, her family relocated several times within rural Turkey as a result of her father’s work. It was during those years that she developed a keen sense of community values and the importance of education to build a better future.

After receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics at Middle East Technical University and a Teaching Certificate from Gazi University in 1993, Şule worked as a Physics teacher and a High School administrator in Ankara.  She relocated to the US in 1997 and now lives in Oak Park, IL with her husband Victor and son Lucas. She has a successful private tutoring practice in the Chicago area and works as an off-campus teacher with the Oak Park River Forest High School.  Şule is fluent in English, Spanish, and Turkish. When she is not busy at work, she enjoys running, yoga, scuba-diving, nature walking, traveling, reading, and photography. The early experiences developed during her childhood years stayed with her and became a moral compass throughout her life to pass on the gift of education to others who are less fortunate regardless of location.

Tuğba was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1982. She received her BSc. In Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department of Middle East Technical University in 2005. She worked at various companies in Turkey as a Software Engineer for 6.5 years and moved to Seattle, WA with her family in 2011. Currently, she is working at Microsoft as a Software Engineer.

Having completed her education through scholarships, she believes that children and youth deserve equal opportunities to establish a better future. She volunteered in an EU project in Nevşehir when she was a university student and had the opportunity to take part in multicultural art and music workshops with elementary school students together with other participants from European Countries. After moving to the States and getting introduced to Bridge to Türkiye, she adopted and embraced its philosophy of giving back to enable and empower education. She joined BTF in 2015. She likes the harmony of working with like-minded volunteers for the same goal with a great team spirit. She is married and has a son. She likes social and cultural activities.

Vicdan grew up and went to school in Ankara. She earned her BA in American Culture and Literature in 1992, and MA in English Language and Literature in 1994, from Bilkent University. After working for 2 years as an English Instructor in the Faculty of Humanities and Letters at Bilkent, Vicdan moved to Austin, TX in 1996. There, she volunteered to teach English to Vietnamese refugees while working part-time for a research company. She moved to Charlotte from San Francisco Bay area in 2003, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter. She serves on the board of ATA-NC Charlotte since last year.

Vicdan met Bridge to Türkiye in 2004 and feels lucky to be working with such a dedicated group of people to help kids in Türkiye.


Prof. Aziz Sancar is Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He was Born in Savur-Mardin, Turkey in 1946. He obtained his primary and secondary education in Savur and Mardin, and then received an M.D. degree in 1969 from the Istanbul University School of Medicine. After practicing medicine in Savur for two years he attended the University of Texas at Dallas and obtained a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology in 1977 with his work on a DNA repair enzyme called “photolyase.”

Dr.Sancar conducted postdoctoral work at Yale university on another DNA repair enzyme called “excinuclease” in the period 1977-1982. He joined the Department of Biocemistry and Biophysics at UNC Chapel Hill in 1997. Dr. Sancar is currently conducting research on DNA Repair, Cell Cycle Checkpoints, Cryptochrome and the Circadian Clock. He has published 279 research articles and 32 book chapters. Prof. Sancar is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA and the recipient of the prestigious Vehbi Koc Award from the Koc Foundation of Turkey in 2007. Dr. Sancar is also the President of AGS Foundation, which sponsors the Turk Evi of Chapel Hill for UNC students. Aziz lives in Chapell Hill with his wife Gwen.