Staff

Director, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul
Biography
İpek Cem Taha is a Turkish entrepreneur, journalist, and an active board member of several local and international organizations. İpek is the Founding Director of Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul since its inception in 2011. The Center is working to build collaborative programs and projects that link Columbia University to Turkey, and the Istanbul Center to the seven other Global Centers worldwide. Her mandates include programming on such issues as education, sustainability, peace and conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, social entrepreneurship, public health as well as work on the history, culture and future of cities, and specifically that of Istanbul. 
 
After graduating from Robert College of Istanbul, İpek received her B.A. degree with Honors in Political Science from Amherst College. She holds an M.B.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and an M.I.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of International and Public Affairs.
 
In her early career, İpek Cem Taha was an Associate at Bankers Trust Company (Deutsche Bank) in New York, in the International Capital Markets Group. She was a co-founder and partner of Netwise between 1996-2007, an Internet communications company with clients including multinationals and financial institutions. Between 2007-2011, she was working with Melak Yatırım, providing consultancy for multinational private equity funds.
 
Between 2005-2010, İpek was producing and hosting ‘Global Leaders,’ a television program on NTV networks, consisting of interviews with personalities such as Pele, Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz and Madeleine Albright.  Before creating Global Leaders, İpek was for eight years a columnist for daily newspapers, including Milliyet, Yeni Yüzyıl and Sabah. 
 
İpek Cem Taha is a founding board member and active leader in several non-profit organizations in Turkey, including URAK (National Competitiveness Research Institute), KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association) and SAHA, an association that supports Turkish contemporary art internationally. Since 2012, İpek Cem Taha is a Trustee of Robert College of Istanbul. She has also been a board member of the Strategic Advisory Council of the Marseille Center for Mediterranean Integration, and of the International Advisory Council of Columbia University. 
 
Elected an Eisenhower Fellow in 2003, İpek Cem Taha represented Turkey as a young leader in their Multi-Nation Program. She has also been named an Honorary Professor of Public Relations and Communications from the Ionian University in 2012 for her work in the consolidation of friendship, peace and cooperation between Greece and Turkey. İpek recently joined Allianz Turkey’s Advisory Board in 2015.
Senior Program Manager
Biography

As Senior Program Manager, Rana Zincir Celal leads all aspects of programming for Columbia Global Centers | Turkey.

Rana has been based in Turkey and northern Cyprus since 2002. Since 2009, she worked with the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research to create the Home for Cooperation, a common space in Cyprus's UN Buffer Zone that promotes innovative approaches to intercultural dialogue and history education.  During that time, she led an effort by The Elders, the International Center for Transitional Justice and AHDR to produce educational materials on comparative experiences with enforced disappearance and missing persons. She is also a founding member of the Gender Advisory Team, a coalition of women's organizations generating policy proposals for the integration of gender concerns in the Cyprus peace talks.

From 2005 to 2009, she was Vice-President of Programs at the Chrest Foundation, where she designed and implemented its grant making strategy in the areas of gender equality, communication and dialogue through arts and culture, rural development, and at-risk children in Turkey. Prior to that, she launched programs on social justice philanthropy, cultural policy and cross-border cultural cooperation with a number of NGOs in Turkey, including the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey, Anadolu Kultur and the Christensen Fund.  She also initiated and produced a number of exhibitions, focusing on contested space in the divided capital of Cyprus, notably: “Leaps of Faith: An International Arts Project for the Green Line and the City of Nicosia,” “Untitled Histories,” an archival project on the Turkish Cypriots arts community, “Speaking to One Another,” Cyprus edition with oral history workshops focused on the Armenian community of Cyprus, “Topographies of Memory: From Ermou Street to the Buffer Zone,” with Anita Bakshi, and “Bandabuliya,” an exhibition for the opening of the historic marketplace of Nicosia.

Before moving to Turkey, Rana was based at the Ford Foundation's Economic Development Program in New York and also worked for one of the pioneers of the socially responsible investing movement, Domini Social Investments, as an Investor Services Associate, liaising with institutional investors.

She is dedicated to civil society in Turkey and globally, serving as a Board member with several foundations and civic initiatives: Greenpeace Mediterranean Board of Directors, the European Cultural Foundation's Princess Margriet Award Jury, the Hrant Dink Foundation International Human Rights Award Committee, the Greek Turkish Forum, and Anadolu Kültür Executive Committee.

She holds degrees from Columbia University (BA, Political Science) and the London School of Economics (MSc, Development Studies). She is also the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, the Everett Public Service Fellowship, and the CUNY Emerging Leaders in International Philanthropy Fellowship.

Administrative Officer
Biography

Gulden Colakel holds a B.A. in Italian Language and Literature from Istanbul University. She has been a planning specialist and an executive assistant to various local and international companies. Gulden brings to the Center fifteen years of experience from a wide range of sectors.

Administrative Coordinator
Biography

Ceyda Göçmen Özaznavuryan works as Administrative Coordinator at Columbia Global Centers | Turkey since its foundation in 2011. Ceyda holds a B.A. in International Relations from Istanbul University. She has been the office manager for well-known U.S. and international companies during their launching and operating periods in Istanbul, Turkey, such as InterGen-a Shell & Bechtel venture and Frontier Capital, a subsidiary of Soros Fund Management. Ceyda brings to the Center twelve years of experience in her field.

Research Associate
Biography

Merve Tezcanlı Ispahani is a doctoral candidate at the History Department, Columbia University. Her dissertation “Building Sovereignty in the Late Ottoman World: Imperial Citizenship, Passports and Consular Networks” explores state efforts for assuming the exclusive right to determine, verify and document individual identities, and regulate movement through a newly instituted passport regime when the question of citizenship and regulation of movement controls emerged as a new site of diplomatic and political struggle between the empire-states. In an attempt to bring Ottoman studies in dialogue with the newly developing field of trans-regional history, her dissertation reveals the multiple ways through which these categories were appropriated and challenged by both the imperial center and different communities moving within and across the empire. Ispahani is currently based in Istanbul and works as a Research Associate at Columbia Global Centers | Turkey.

Program Officer
Biography

Eylem Nazlı Taşdemir works as a Program Officer at Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul. Eylem holds a B.A. in History from Boğaziçi University and a MATILDA European Master in Women’s and Gender History at the Central European University. Her M.A. thesis “Suat Derviş: A Friend of the Soviet Union” focuses on the political biography of Suat Derviş and her brochure “Why I am a Friend of the Soviet Union” written in 1944. Eylem has experience working with a multinational company as a Marketing Communication Specialist where she gained solid experience with the private sector. She also worked with an NGO as a Training Coordinator where she developed and designed training programs and plans for projects focusing on child labor, gender equality and youth development.

Columbia Global Centers

Video

A Look at Columbia Global Centers | Turkey with Center Director Ipek Cem Taha '93 SIPA, '93 BUS

(Credits: Producer, Director - Joe Turner Lin '96CC '04SOA, Outside the Frame; Exec. Producer - Jerry Kisslinger ‘79CC, ‘82GSAS, Chief Creative Officer, Columbia University Office of Alumni and Development)

(Credits: Producer, Director - Joe Turner Lin '96CC '04SOA, Outside the Frame; Exec. Producer - Jerry Kisslinger ‘79CC, ‘82GSAS, Chief Creative Officer, Columbia University Office of Alumni and Development)