The Syrian Refugee Crisis Conference
9:45 – Registration
10:15 – Welcome Remarks by Burhanettin Duran, President, The SETA Foundation
10: 30 – Panel I: Confronting the Syrian Refugee Challenge
Fuat Oktay, President, Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Turkey (AFAD)
Ghassan Hitto, President, Syrian Forum and the First Prime Minister of the Syrian Opposition National Coalition Government
Moderated by Kilic Kanat, Research Director, SETA Foundation at Washington D.C.
12:00 – Keynote Address by Her Excellency Mrs. Emine Erdoğan
12:30 – Lunch
1:30 – Panel II: Women and Children Refugees
Nadia Alawa, President, NuDay Syria
Ahmad Tarakji, President, Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
Paul Frisoli, Senior Advisor, International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Kenan Rahmani, Karam Foundation
Moderated by Kadir Ustun, Executive Director, SETA Foundation at Washington D.C.
Nadia Alawa is the founder and president of humanitarian relief organization, NuDay Syria. Following her efforts to build bridges, save lives and inspire hope, NuDay Syria is a non-profit organization focused on self-sustainable empowerment. Prioritizing Syrian widows and orphans- arguably the most vulnerable populations – NuDay Syria’s projects aim to normalize and empower these individuals. Since its founding in 2013, NuDay Syria has sent over 85 containers into Syria – worth millions of dollars in humanitarian and medical supplies – in efforts to provide individuals with everyday necessities. Along with this, NuDay Syria has established and runs schools, camps, and social business endeavors, providing women with the opportunity to earn money for their families, both in Turkey and in Syria. NuDay Syria is not just focused on the now – but on sustaining the future. Nadia’s work has been covered in media outlets such as The Boston Globe, Salt Lake Tribune, Huffington Post, The Daily Free Press, FirstPost, Telegram.com, and iPolitics360. She has also appeared on NECN The Morning Show, CBS, and other media outlets. In 2014, Nadia received the Calling All Crows Lauzie Award as Woman of the Year and in 2015 gave a Ted talk on NuDay Syria. A graduate from Copenhagen University, Nadia Alawa is simultaneously the principal and home educator of Stellar Cluster Academy. A strong humanitarian with a belief in global humanity, she resides in New Hampshire with her husband and eight children.
Burhanettin Duran currently serves as General Coordinator of the SETA Foundation, and is based in Ankara. Since 2009, Dr. Duran has served as the head of the department of Political Science and International Relations at İstanbul Şehir University. His focus is on the transformation of Islamism, Turkish Political Thought, Turkish Domestic Politics, Turkish Foreign Policy and Middle Eastern Politics. Dr. Duran is the author of Türk Parlamento Tarihi (3 volumes) (Ankara: TBMM, 2012) and the coeditor of Dünya Çatışma Bölgeleri I-II (Nobel, 2004, 2010), Dönüşüm Sürecindeki Türkiye (Alfa, 2007), Ortadoğu Yıllığı 2008 (Küre, 2009) and Türk Dış Politikası Yıllığı 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. His articles have appeared in Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Journal of Balkans and Near Eastern Studies, Insight Turkey, the Muslim World, EuroAgenda, Liberal Düşünce, Bilgi, Sivil Toplum. He has contributed to several edited books. He received his BA in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University in 1993, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Bilkent University in 2001. He was a visiting scholar at George Mason University from 2010-2011.
Paul Frisoli is a Senior Technical Advisor for Education at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global humanitarian agency providing services to more than 700 million displaced peoples worldwide. He has over 13 years of experience working in vulnerable and conflict affected contexts. Paul currently provides technical assistance to IRC’s Syrian Response Regional education programs in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, and Northern Syria. His work focuses on safe schooling options, children’s & teachers’ social-emotional well-being, foundational literacy and numeracy skills, teacher professional development, education technology as well as education research and assessment. He has published education in emergencies manuscripts in Teaching & Teacher Education, Journal of Education for International Development and at the UK Forum for International Educators & Trainers, Comparative & International Education Society Conferences, among others. He received his doctorate and master’s from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, bachelor’s from Bates College. He is the Chair of the Refugee Teacher Working Group (RTWG), member of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies Standards & Practice Working Group, member of the Education in Conflict and Crisis Network, and member of the Teacher Motivation Working Group.
Ghassan Hitto was elected prime minister of the Syrian transitional government in a March 18, 2013, meeting of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in Istanbul. Born in Damascus in 1963, Hitto is an ethnic Kurd. He emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He received a BS in computer science and mathematics from Purdue University and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. After working for nearly two decades as an information technology executive in Texas, Hitto moved to Istanbul in late 2012 to help with the Syrian humanitarian aid effort. He began working with the Shaam Relief Foundation, a U.S. nongovernmental organization, and served as the vice president of the Coalition for Free Syria, a U.S. organization based in Dallas, Texas, and an active member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a U.S.-based civil rights organization advocating for Muslim Americans. Hitto was elected narrowly with 35 votes, just three more than runner-up Assad Mustafa, a minister of agriculture under former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, in an election that included twelve candidates. After the election, Hitto noted that his main goals were overthrowing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, returning the refugees to their homes, and not negotiating with the regime. He has called for a government of institutions and rule of law. The Muslim Brotherhood supported his candidacy, although he is not a member of the group.
Kilic Buğra Kanat is the Research Director at the SETA Foundation at Washington DC. He is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Penn State University, Erie. Dr. Kanat received his PhD in Political Science from Syracuse University; a Master’s in Political Science from Syracuse University; a Master’s in International Affairs from Marquette University. He was awarded the Outstanding Research Award and Council of Fellows Faculty Research Award at Penn State, Erie. He participated in Future Leaders Program of Foreign Policy Initiative. Dr. Kanat’s writings have appeared in Foreign Policy, Insight Turkey, The Diplomat, Middle East Policy, Arab Studies Quarterly, Mediterranean Quarterly, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, and Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. He is a columnist at Daily Sabah. He is the author of A Tale of Four Augusts: Obama’s Syria Policy.
Fuat Oktay is the President of the Turkish Disaster & Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). Born in Yozgat-Çekerek, he completed his bachelor’s degree in business management in Turkey, and received his MBA and PhD in the United States. In addition to his MBA, Dr. Oktay completed a master’s program on Manufacturing Engineering, and a PhD Program in Industrial Engineering. He became an expert on aviation and automotive industries. Throughout his stay at the US, he worked in projects in companies such as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, on product development and lean production projects. He lectured in universities in the US and in Turkey. He provided consultancy services to many public and private sector companies. Moreover, he provided consultancy services to small and medium sized enterprises, including KOSGEB. In some of these companies, he served in the capacity of Director General, Deputy Chairman and Board Member. During the economic crisis hitting Turkey in early 2000s, he specialized in enterprise-based crisis management, and worked as Vice-Dean and Head of the Business Management Department at Beykent University. Also working in the field of Aviation and Maintenance & Repair, Dr. Oktay served as Deputy Director General responsible for Strategic Planning and Business Development, Sales and Marketing, Production Planning and Information Technologies, at Türk Hava Yolları Teknik A.Ş. In the last three years, he has brought to life 5 different joint venture projects at THY Teknik A.Ş. in the fields of maintenance & repair, design and manufacturing.
Ilyasah Al-Shabazz is a community organizer, social activist, motivational speaker, and author of the critically acclaimed Growing Up X (Random House, 2002). She is co-editor with Herb Boyd, The Diary of Malcolm X (Third Word Press, 2013), worked with illustrator AG Ford, The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and with Kekla Magoon, X (Candlewick, 2014). Ilyasah promotes higher education, interfaith dialogue, and building bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world. She produces The WAKE-UP Tour™, an exclusive youth empowerment program, and participates on international humanitarian delegations. She is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a Trustee for The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Ilyasah serves on the Board of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Arts Committee for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, and a Project Advisor for the PBS award-winning documentary, Prince Among Slaves. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education and Human Resource Development and currently resides in Westchester County of NY.
Ahmad Tarakji currently serves as President of the Syrian American Medical Society, and is based in Fresno, California as a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon. Dr. Tarakji previously worked as a clinical assistant professor of surgery at Stanford School of Medicine’s Department of Cardio-thoracic Surgery. Dr. Tarajki served at the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, American Board of General Surgery, and Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. Dr. Tarakji is the author of numerous publications, including; “Gender Disparity in CAGB Outcomes: An Independent Risk Factor or Not, Women are at a Disadvantage.” Dr. Tarakji has received his medical education from the Faculty of Medicine at University of Aleppo in 1999, and had post-graduate training positions at University of Pennsylvania, University of Illinois, Penn State University, and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
Kadir Ustun is the Executive Director at the SETA Foundation at Washington, D.C. He also serves as an Assistant Editor of Insight Turkey, an academic journal published by the SETA Foundation. Dr. Ustun holds a PhD in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies from Columbia University and a Master’s degree in History from Bilkent University. He has contributed to various SETA reports and his writings have appeared in various publications such as Insight Turkey, Al Jazeera English, Hurriyet Daily News, Daily Sabah, Mediterranean Quarterly, and Cairo Review of Global Affairs among others. He is also co-editor of edited volumes History, Politics and Foreign Policy in Turkey, Change and Adaptation in Turkish Foreign Policy, and Politics and Foreign Policy in Turkey: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.