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Academicians (35)

"Turkish American scientists and acholars araound the country. Their success stories, discoveries, inventions... They build a sustainable science bridge between the U.S. and Turkey. This bridge would facilitate the flow of scientists and scholars, knowledge, and technology and help link science and technology institutions in the two countries." View items...

Professionals (141)

"Professionals from all different industries, sectors, companies... Their success stories, life experiences, plans, and aims. From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, from law firms to technology companies, from New York to San Francisco." View items...

Businessman (196)

"Founders of succesful businesses, executives, Presidents, CEOs, and General Managers... Gilan, Vocelli Pizza, Unique Settings of New York, Benchmark, Sanli Pastore & Hill, Askew Industrial Corp., Luca Luca, Inseco, Rapid Conn, CAO, Telenity, Bicom, and many other success stories... "

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Women (39)

"From Dallas to Chicago, from New York to Washington, D.C., in every corner of the U.S., Turkish women successfully stand in the forefront with their success in business and professional life, and academics. Here are the Turkish women and their success stories."

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Lieutenant Yakup Zoklu, First Police Officer of Syriac Community  


Lieutenant Yakup Zoklu, has been working for Cliffside Park Police Department since 2003. He was born in İstanbul and came to the U.S. when he was 7 years old. He is the first Syriac Turkish police officer in New Jersey. He got his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Saint Peter’s University, Jersey City, NJ and had a master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He taught at both schools as adjunct professors when he went to Fairleigh Dickinson for his masters. He had Public Safety Administration certification, global leadership, human resource, and administrative science. Lieutenant Zoklu answered our questions.  

Heart-warming & Inspirational Story of Esendemir Sisters


Füsun, Gonca and Arzu Esendemir sisters started the Flatbread Grill® concept back in 2007 when their father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. They grew up in poverty, so the family never had health insurance. The father immigrated to American in 1975 in pursuit of a better education and to follow his own dream of entrepreneurship. The restaurant concept was started after Füsun was laid off from her corporate job so they could take care of her parents. Arzu had just graduated college and was trying to decide between a career on Wall Street or law school. The sisters developed the restaurant concept completely on their own: branding, operations, menu, etc. They created a special bread called Thumb Bread®, which played a significant role in the concept's success. The New York Times wrote about their restaurant and their bread two months after they had their grand opening. Fast forward to the present, after opening multiple stores, hand making millions of pieces of bread, and being in the restaurant business for over a decade plus years, they now sell the bread as a CPG product.

Passion, Brotherhood, Love and Cigar 

Fouad Kashouty has been a member of Masonic Lodge for 27 years. He is a Freemasons and founders of Hiram & Solomon Cigars. Everything started in 2014, when he decided to roll 1000 cigars to raise some money for a scholarship for the Masonic Lodge that he belongs to. That was an immediate success among Masonic Brethren that grew amazingly fast and caught the attention of non-Freemason smokers. Now he is selling about 1 million sticks across the world. This was the passion...  It took them about four or five years to get the rights of the Square and Compass (masonic symbols) for a cigar, he created a premium cigar. After a few years spent going back and forth with the lab and convincing the more conservative members that it is OK to do this and working with all the masonic charities. That’s how Hiram & Solomon Cigars have expanded. They grew faster than other companies because of the help and support of his masonic brothers in the market. That was the brotherhood...  

Rev. Father Aziz Who Teaches the Tongue Jesus Spoke

Rev. Father Aziz Hadodo has served as pastor of St. Gabriel Syrian Orthodox Church in New Jersey since 1994. One of the rare names to have a chance to know his family roots back 400 years. Due to a disagreement between cousins, a group flees from Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish-majority city in Turkey to Midyat, a town in the Mardin province of Türkiye. Others follow them. They reconcile with the intervention of the clergy. As a result of this event, the family migrated from Diyarbakır to Midyat in 400 years ago. A Syriac patriarch from the family drew up a family tree for the first time 200 years ago. Another relative, who was a member of parliament in Syria, worked on the family tree about 60 years ago and brought it up to date.

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Why Midsize Firms Are Ramping Up Tech Investments After Clearing the Hybrid Hurdle

Chief operating partner, Barbaros Karaahmet, was quoted in a article discussing how Herrick has embraced investing in firm wide technology, which in turn streamlines productivity. The article highlighted how Herrick was already ahead of the technology adoption curve when the pandemic hit. In 2012, the firm was forced to briefly close its New York office when Hurricane Sandy hit. Barbaros recalled how, "We couldn’t go into the office for a week and a half. That was a pivotal moment to look at having safety nets and fail-safes. That’s when we decided we needed to invest in more technology."

The Connection Between the Native Americans and the Turks!

When the Turks immigrated to the U.S. has always been a matter of debate. We see that there were migrations from the Ottoman Empire to the U.S. for the first time in the 1860s, either for trade or other reasons. It has been determined that they migrated to the U.S., especially to Michigan and Massachusetts, from Turkish cities such as Bingöl and Tunceli. The reason for this was the job opportunities in Massachusetts's leather, thread, fabric, and shoe factories and the Ford factory in Michigan, where rapid industrialization was happening.

Immigration to the U.S. peaked at the beginning of the 1910s; however, this number decreased strongly toward the end of World War I. With the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, some Turks who had gone to the U.S. came back to Turkey, and the number of those returning to Turkey increased further due to the great economic depression in the U.S.

Even though the history of Turks' migration to the U.S. goes back to the 1900s, esteemed scientists such as Prof.Türker Özdoğan, an academic member of Georgetown University, claim that the Uyghur-originated Turkic groups living in Siberia went to Anatolia as well as the America continent via the Bering Strait in AD 1233. We see that this theory has gained even more seriousness after identifying the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Y chromosome overlap, which has been proven before. In this article, we discussed whether both the Native Americans and the Melungeons have a connection with the Turks.

Here is what Prof. Özdoğan claims: 

- The Melungeon community, which claims to have a population of close to 2 million in the U.S., is descended from around 10,000 Ottoman Levantines. They were enslaved at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Some of these sailors were used as galley slaves by the Spanish and the English and were later left to fend for themselves in the Americas.

- The Melungeons, trying to hold onto life on the coast of Virginia, retreated to the Appalachian mountains around the state of Tennessee due to the difficulties they experienced from cultural differences with the local community. They then fraternized with the Native American tribes belonging to the Athabascan language group in that region.

- The honorary leader of the Melungeons, Brent Kennedy, who stated that the DNA of the Melungeons and the Anatolian Turks are similar to one another, wrote two books to strengthen the bonds between the two communities when he was still alive and developed close relationships with the Turkish community living in the U.S.

-Brent Kennedy learned about his Turkish origin after taking a DNA test. Kennedy knew he had thalassemia, a genetic disease, and took a DNA test. In the blood samples taken from the nearly 300 Melungeon close friends that he could reach, he found traces of diseases such as sarcoidosis, thalassemia, and Behçet's disease, seen only in Mediterranean peoples and Kennedy, therefore, revealed the bond between his community and Turkey.

- Many scientists are investigating the fact that the Native Americans came to the U.S. from the Central Asian Turkish tribes, mainly from Siberia. Those interested in the arrival of Indians to the U.S. are Scandinavian countries, China, and Turkey. We claim to research when the Central Asian Turkish tribes started arriving in the U.S. One of the most accurate studies is a 700-page book, The Dene and Na-Dene, by Canadian anthropologist Ethel G. Stewart. This researcher asserted that Turks came to the American continent from Central Asia, and their last visit was in 1200 AD. Stewart claims that Uyghur tribes were fleeing Genghis Khan.

-Apart from researching the artistic and cultural similarities between Turks and Native Americans, the etymology matters for this historical research. The most commonly spoken language among Native Americans is the Athabaskan language. We have many words in common with the Native Americans. In particular, Professor Timur Kocaoğlu from Michigan State University has studies indicating that there is a connection between Turkish and Native American languages and that this connection shows itself in terms of grammar, beyond common words. For example, the roots of our essential words, such as air and water, are the same. Our carpet and ceramic motifs are almost identical. Native American religious beliefs are the same as Shamanism.

 -Modern Turks should remember Ataturk's efforts in the language field. Ataturk kept a strong focus on language and spearheaded private research. In particular, there are similarities between the Mayan and Aztec languages and Turkish. Ataturk, Tahsin Mayatepek sent an acting ambassador to Mexico and was instrumental in researching this topic. Later, Tahsin Mayatepek presented Ataturk with a research report and a dictionary on this subject.

Prof. Ozdogan took Native Americans to Turkey three times. He worked with the Turkish World Research Center. Turkey built a hospital for Native Americans in the Navajo region. He has conducted many studies in the educational and cultural fields. Oneida Indians, who earned vast sums of money in many areas, ranging from casino management to trade, showed great interest, especially in products like textiles, plastics, and rugs. However, Prof.Ozdogan felt disappointed when he saw that the commercial, educational, and cultural exchanges between the Indians and Turks are declining. He believes that Turks and Native Indians would work again as soon as possible.

Alihan Karakartal, a voluntary envoy between the Melungeons and Turks in the city of Wise in Virginia, also explained the recent developments in the Melungeon world.

Where did the Melungeon Community's interest in Turks come from, and how did it start?

As you know, the late Brent Kennedy was the one who established the ties between the Melungeon and Turkish peoples. He was a great communicator who devoted a significant portion of his life to identifying his ancestors' geographical, ethnic, and genetic origins. The Melungeons are a genetically complex and richly diverse ethnic group; for this reason, they have experienced polarization—through exposure to researchers who defended differentiating theses—debating among themselves. 

The Melungeons are related to the Turkish people and those with Portuguese, Native American, and Eurasian origins. So, it is a melting pot. Fortunately, the most significant interest in Melungeon research came from Turkey in the '90s. Thanks to Brent Kennedy's good, love, and personal efforts for Turks, excellent relations were established between Melungeons and Turks in those years. Furthermore, Brent's interview with Barış Manço has laid a perfect foundation for a future cultural bridge between the Melungeons and the Turkish people. That was how I contacted him, and I attended the university where he was working. Since I have known Brent Kennedy since 1996, I have had a chance to personally witness many positive developments between the Melungeons and their relatives in Turkey.

Çeşme and the town of Wise became sister cities.

Back then, the diplomatic, touristic, and academic ties Brent established with Turkey were robust. He went back and forth between Turkey and Wise and received lots of attention and love from the people of Turkey. Çeşme and the town of Wise were declared sister cities during those years. A student exchange program was established with Istanbul University, with 4-5 Turkish students visiting each year. If I remember correctly, we also had good ties with Dumlupınar University. One of our teachers, Sami Ferliel, even gave Turkish lessons to Melungeons at the university. The university I graduated from even published an excellent book on the similarities between Ataturk and Thomas Jefferson. Because I was a student at the University of Virginia College at Wise during those years, we had the opportunity to introduce the Turkish culture in this part of the USA as much as we could to the students who come and go every year. Faruk Loğoğlu, the ambassador of Washington then, visited the campus and gave a lovely speech. The student exchange program was an extremely synergetic, rich, and cultural exchange. Until 2008, this allowed many students to graduate from here and go back to Turkey. However, interest in the program slowly died, and the agreement between universities was unfortunately not renewed. Brent's 2005 cerebral hemorrhage was unfortunate in the program's discontinuation.

There had been efforts for tourism as well. Because Brent brought along a massive group of people every time he visited Turkey, there were significant developments in tourism. If Brent hadn't suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2005, I believe we would be experiencing quite a different reality now. Unfortunately, these works, built on substantial bases at the time, were severely interrupted due to the severe health problems Brent experienced. Everything was exposed to a sort of timeout and momentum loss.

What did Brent Kennedy want to achieve?

The Melungeon research that Brent pioneered has the main motto: "We are one people." Their purpose in saying this was to bring together all Americans with Melungeon origins under one umbrella, in a spirit of brotherhood, rather than based on any ethnic origin. This was because severe polarizations emerged over time among the Melungeons, who represented extremely mixed ethnicities. 

So much so that Brent received academic and personal threats for many years from groups that defended differentiating theses regarding the roots of Melungeons. Although his followers loved and supported him, he was the only person among these theses who defended the genetic link with Turkey. Throughout his life, Brent was loyal to the Turkish nation and had a great interest in and love for his studies and himself, but unfortunately, he passed away on September 21, 2020.

How should the connection between the Melungeons and Turks be revived?

Brent Kennedy worked as hard as a locomotive and managed to accelerate the "Melungeon Train" in the nineties, as it slowly began to find its identity many years ago. He was instrumental in bringing this train to Turkey. Unfortunately, this train is now back in the station. I don't exactly know how this train can be re-accelerated without a friend and ally like Brent, who was almost in love with Turks and defended the "Turkish thesis" with great faith. However, I believe revising the touristic and commercial sides of this equation will mutually benefit both communities.

Tim Ozgener Returns To Cigar Business

Tim Ozgener is back in the cigar industry with a new brand bearing his family name. The man who once owned and ran CAO alongside his father and sister is about to launch Ozgener Family Cigars Bosphorus. It’s his first blend in around 12 years, and the beginning of what he expects to be several cigars launched under the Ozgener name.  “I still love cigars—and I found I appreciate them more and more,” said Ozgener during a recent visit to the Cigar Aficionado offices in New York City. “Some of the most satisfying portions of my life were in the cigar business. I love the traditions.” He’s been working on the new project, he says, “for close to two years.”

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Selen Adds to Endorsement List One Week Out from Morris County Republican Convention


(Chatham, NJ) - Seven days before the pivotal Morris County Republican Convention in Congressional District 11, Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen continued to add to his endorsement list with a number of key Republican elected officials including from three of the largest towns in the 11th Congressional District. Among the new endorsements Selen for Congress campaign announced today include:

Hamptons Hotspot 75 Main Is Getting A Reality Show

The Hamptons may be getting its own version of “Vanderpump Rules.” Bravo had a runaway hit with the show, which followed the behind-the-scenes action at West Hollywood restaurant SUR. Now Page Six is told that Southampton hotspot 75 Main is going to be the setting for a similar show. Owner Zac Erdem and his sexy staff are starring on “Serving the Hamptons,” which will air on Discovery Plus. 

TOA Awards - Stars of Silicon Valley Applications Start

Applications to "The TOA Awards - Stars of Silicon Valley" have started. Awards which are given by the first and only Turkish American business magazine, TURKOFAMERICA, will go this year to individuals who are paving the way for a more inclusive, accessible and better world through the power of technology. The Award Ceremonies have been held in different themes since 2015. The first year, America’s 50 most influential Turkish Americans, in 2016, America’s 30 Most Influential Turkish-American Women, in 2017, 40 Turkish-Americans under 40, and in 2018, Friends of Turkey in America were awarded. The date and location of the ceremony will be announced later. Applications are to start on February 15th and end on April 15, 2022.

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