Journey to the Bluegrass State for a
Turkish American Women in Leadership Retreat
June 17-19, 2022

Mark your calendars for a “Turkish American Women in Leadership” retreat sponsored by the National Coalition of Turkish American Women PAC (NC-TAW PAC) and Empowering the Turkish American Community (ETACUSA) in Berea, Kentucky, June 17-19, 2022.

RSVP by emailing with your contact information indicating that you wish to attend the retreat. For the tentative program and further details, please see the information below. We are nearly reaching the targeted number of participants. Hurry, participation is limited.

Why attend?

  • Witness history in the making as Turkish American candidates running for public office will address a Turkish American event as a group for the first time.
  • Understand the importance of words in leadership in a one hour workshop by a design thinking expert
  • Learn the latest about women empowerment in corporate world
  • Discover how horses can unlock leadership potential
  • Perceive Native American ways of spiritual identity, healing violent past and connecting with nature
  • Enjoy connecting with horses and nature
  • Indulge your taste buds with Kentucky BBQ around Bonfire
  • Experience Navajo ceremony at sunset
  • Connect and catch up with friends and make new ones.

Cost: There is no registration/ participation fee. You will only need to cover the costs for your travel, hotel accommodations, and some meals.

Lodging: For room reservations, we have a special group rate at the historic Boone Tavern Hotel, from $99 to $139, excluding tax until May 30. For further details please see below.

We Need Sponsors!

Please contact us if you are interested in being a corporate or individual sponsor of the retreat.

We hope you can join us June 17-19 in Berea to participate in empowering Turkish American women and to celebrate the legacy of those courageous women attending the first American women’s convention on women’s suffrage in Seneca Falls, New York, in the summer of 1848.

Tuba Firincioglu-Apaydin, President
Hulya Erol-Garvett, Vice President
Tulay Spicker, Vice President
Helen Gulgun Bukulmez, Host
National Coalition of Turkish American Women PAC (NC-TAW PAC)

Atiye Bayman & Hulya Koc, Co-Presidents
Empowering the Turkish American Community (ETAC USA)



Tentative Program

(As of May 25, 2022)

Friday/June 17

5:00 – 7:00 Opening Reception at Berea Coffee & Tea
7:00 – 8:30 Welcoming by NC-TAW PAC President Tuba Firincioglu-Apaydin
*Dr. Karen Tilstra, a Design Thinking Expert, a TEDx speaker, business consultant and academic lecturer, conducts a special one-hour Leadership Training session “Two Words That Can Change the World, ‘YES AND.”

*Dr. Tilstra “believes everyone is creative with leadership potential. She thinks the world would be happier if everyone embraced this truth.” Dr. Tilstra will also serve as the moderator and facilitator for the Saturday and Sunday sessions.

8:30 – 10:00 Continuation of Reception

Saturday/June 18

8:00 – 8:45 Proposed Messages from the Following Members of Congress via Zoom
  • Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY/6th)*
  • Congresswomen Virginia Foxx (R-NC/5th*
  • Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN/9th)*
  • Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-IN/5th)*

*To be confirmed / Participation via Zoom

8:45 – 09:30 Address by Peter Emmett of Cardinal Health Systems on Women
Empowerment in the Corporate World and in Different Cultures
09:30 – 10:30 Democratic and Republican Perspectives on the importance of grassroots involvement in politics by Hon. Angie Hatton, Democratic Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and Suzanne Feather, National Executive Director of the National Federation of the Grand Order of the Pachyderm Clubs* affiliated with the Republican Party.

* Pachyderm Clubs promote education and active citizen involvement in politics affiliated with Republican Party

10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45-12:30 Panel Discussion on Turkish American political leadership with Turkish American elected officials, current and past candidates, and state party officialsHelen Gulgun Bukulmez, Aycha Sawa, Yelda Bartlett, Derya Taskin, Leah Ersoylu, Tayfun Selen, Ajlan Kurdoglu, and Erim Sarinoglu.

Moderator: Elizabeth Wooten

12:30 – 13:45 Lunch
Keynote Speaker:  Dr. Carolyn Willekes of the University of Calgary to speak about how horses can help unlock leadership potential
13:45 – 14:15 Message from the NC-TAW PAC Officers and Executive Committee:  Tuba Firincioglu-Apaydin, Tulay Spicker & Burcu Tansu – Our Impact 2021
14:15 – 14:30 Break
14:30 – 15:45 Chad and Jana Pfeiffer of the Navajo/Dine to discuss Indigenous Women Spiritual Identity / Healing a Violent Past / Connecting with Nature
15:45 – 16:00 Break
16:00 – 16:45 Transit
16:45 – 18:30 Visit to Horse Farm – Amanda Kraft and her family.

Amanda Kraft and her family have rescued, sheltered, and protected horses for decades.  Participants will have the opportunity to bond with her horses as she explains equine culture as related to human society

18:30 – 19:00 Transit
19:00 – 22:00 Barbecue and Group Discussion Around Bonfire at The Shire with a Navajo Ceremony at Sunset
22:00 – 23:00 Transit

Sunday/June 19

09:00-10:30 Turkish Breakfast at Berea Coffee & Tea


Why Berea, Kentucky

Berea is the “Folk Arts & Crafts Capital of Kentucky,” where “bluegrass country meets the rolling hills of Appalachia.” This historic town is also the home of Berea College–a private liberal arts work college established in 1855.  It was the first coeducational and racially integrated college in the Southern United States and as such is highly compatible with the mission of the retreat.   Finally, since there will be bonding time and a talk about how women can learn leadership principles from equine culture, what better place than to be in a state known for its horses.

Nearby Airports: 

  • Blue Grass Airport (LEX) / Lexington, KY to Berea, KY:  51 minutes
  • Louisville International Airport (SDF) / Louisville, KY:  1 hour 40 minutes
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) / Hebron, KY: 1 hour 44 minutes

Lodging: For room reservations, we have a special group rate at the historic Boone Tavern Hotel, from $99 to $139, excluding tax until May 17.Please call 1-859-985-3701, and ask for the group block under the National Coalition of Turkish American Women Political Action Committee, or visit the hotel’s website, Select the Reservations tab and then click Check Availability and Book (blue button).  Use the group code of 229425 in GROUP ID and follow the reservations prompts to complete the reservations. Group rate is available until May 17.

Corporate & Individual Sponsorships: Please contact Tuba Firincioglu-Apaydin,, Tulay Spicker,

Questions: Please contact Tuba Firincioglu-Apaydin,, Tulay Spicker,


Journey to the Bluegrass State – Our Panel

Witness history in the making at the Turkish American Women in Leadership Retreat in Berea, Kentucky, June 17-19. Turkish American candidates running for public office will address a Turkish American event as a group for the first time. The program will also feature elected and appointed public officials from the Turkish American community.

Register now to hear their stories (if you haven’t done so already) and experience this historic occasion. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to hear from other inspiring speakers (to be announced shortly). Email  with your contact information indicating that you wish to attend the retreat. Hurry, only a few spaces are remaining!

The panel on Turkish Americans in the Political Arena will take place on Saturday morning, June 18, and panelists include:

Turkish American Candidates Running in 2022

  • Ajlan (AJ) Kurdoglu – Democratic candidate for the Arizona State House (Legislative District 12). The Democratic primary is on August 2, 2022.
  • Erim Sarinoglu – Nonpartisan candidate for General Session Criminal Court Judge in Shelby County (Memphis), Tennessee. The election is on August 4, 2022.
  • Tafun Selen – Republican candidate for New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. The Republican primary is on June 7, 2022. Selen has received the Republican Party endorsement in the primary, making him the first Turkish American to receive a party endorsement for Congress. He is currently a Commissioner Director in Morris County, New Jersey, elected in 2020. Previously, he was the elected Mayor of Chatham Township in Morris County.

Political Leaders from the Turkish American Community

  • Yelda Bartlett – Candidate for public office in Alameda County, CA, in 2012. Appointed to public positions in California. Her husband, Ben Bartlett, is an elected Member of the City Council of Berkeley, CA.
  • Helen Gulgun Bukulmez – Candidate for the Kentucky State Senate in 2021.
  • Leah Ersoylu – Trustee (Area 1) for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education, Orange County, California, elected in 2020.  Appointed to public positions in California.
  • Aycha Sawa – City Comptroller for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, elected in 2020.
  • Derya Taskin – First Turkish American elector of the Electoral College as one of the 14 New Jersey delegates in 2020. Former appointed Deputy Mayor of Paterson in addition to holding other appointed public positions in New Jersey.


Retreat in Pictures

(Photos courtesy of G. Lincoln McCurdy)