The Young Professionals Program is designed to bring together highly qualified and motivated individuals interested in the context of Middle East & North Africa. Its objective is to uphold democratic values in the region, to ensure an international exchange of invaluable experiences, and to contribute to the regional agenda of the youth.

Cale Salih

Cale Salih

Nationality: Iraqi

Cale Salih is a Project Manager at the Institute for Integrated Transitions, as well as a Masters of Studies Candidate in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University. She was previously a Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations focusing on Kurds (2014-2015); the Senior Syria Analyst at Integrity Research & Consultancy (2013); the Video Editor at Al-Monitor (2012); a Middle East and North Africa Fellow for the International Crisis Group focusing on Lebanon and Syria (2010-2012); and an Editorial Fellow at The Atlantic (2010). Cale has published op-eds and reported pieces in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, TIME, NBC, among others. In 2016, she was selected as a Munich Young Leader by the Körber Foundation. Cale received her A.B. from Princeton University (class of 2010), where she majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Toon Bijnens

Nationality: Belgian

Toon Bijnens is a Belgian activist focusing on questions of social and environmental justice in the Middle-East. He holds an MA in Modern History and has worked in advocacy for Amnesty International and with civil society organisations in Egypt and Iraq.

Toon Bijnens
Müjge Küçükkeleş

Müjge Küçükkeleş

Nationality: Turkish

Müjge Küçükkeleş received her B.A in Political Science and Public Administration from Middle East Technical University, Turkey and her M.A in Politics and International Studies department from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.  She is currently a program officer at International Republican Institute’s Turkey office and a member Atlantic Council’s 2012-2013 Young Turkey Young America program.

Selma Bardakcı

Nationality: Turkish

Selma Bardakcı is an Atlas Corps Fellow which is an international network of nonprofit leaders in Washington D.C and she is serving at John D. Evans Foundation. She has been served as Deputy Director of International Leadership Application and Research Center. There are two departments in this center: the School of Government & Leadership, and the American Studies Center. She holds a BA of Political Science and International Relations from Bahcesehir University in Turkey, during which she was an Erasmus Exchange student at European University Viadrina in Germany for one semester. She also holds a Master of Global Politics and International Relations from Bahcesehir University.. In 2012, Selma led the Young Turkey – Young America Program, representing both Turkish young professionals as well as her own university. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She is also a Co-Opinion Young Professional Fellow, which is a policy-oriented youth solidarity network that advocates an integrated approach for youth policies in the MENA region. Selma also works ona social project to help Syrian refugees, which is now over 2 million in Turkey alone. The project is called Al Shami Kitchen in İzmit province, and it aims to empower Syrian refugee women and support their social and economic integration into the Turkish society.

Selma Bardakcı
Victoria Heckenlaible

Victoria Heckenlaible

Nationality: American

Victoria Heckenlaible received her MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and her BA in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Texas at Austin. During her time at Georgetown, she researched the narratives and psychology surrounding radicalization with Dr. Fathali Moghaddam in the Department of Government and in the Department of Psychology. She also spent time with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, American Friends of UNRWA, and IREX (Monrovia, Liberia office). Prior to academia, Victoria worked in US domestic politics as a copywriter for an award-winning political consulting firm. Here she collaborated on several campaigns that were recognized with Pollie Awards from the American Association of Political Consultants. After the 2012 election cycle, she worked as a freelance writer for tech startups and marketing firms in Texas.

Mariano Machado

Nationality: Argentinian

Mariano Machado completed BA in International Relations, specialized in Governance and Political Management (UDESA/GWU) and expected M.Sc. in International Relations with focus in Cooperation and Development (USAL). He has served within NGO’s (RACI, Help Argentina Foundation, WWF Argentina) and public sector (Chief Cabinet of Ministers, Buenos Aires City Legislature) as well as collaborated with international organizations (UNIC, UNDP). He is also member of the Argentine Council for International Relations, fellow of the Political Action Network Foundation, Secretary of International Relations of the party Radical Civic Union and advisor for the UN SG Special Envoy on Youth. He currently leads the international financing department of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security of Argentina.

Mariano Machado
Georgina Manok

Georgina Manok

Nationality: Lebanese

Georgina Manok was a research associate in the core team of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Arab Human Development Report. Prior to joining UNDP, she was a project manager at the Lebanese Economic Association, where she designed and led projects to support sound policy making and citizen engagement in Lebanon, organized conferences, and produced video series on socio-economic issues. Manok worked as a consultant for the Lebanese Ministry of Finance and the Arab bureaus of UNDP and the International Labour Organization. She is currently pursuing her graduate studies in public policy and affairs at Brown University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the American University of Beirut and a Project Management Professional certification.

Ezgisu Biber

Nationality: Turkish

Ezgisu Biber was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1988. She obtained her BA degree in Social and Political Sciences from Sabanci University in 2011, and her MA degree in International Affairs and International Economics, with a concentration in Conflict Management, from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze SAIS in 2013. As one of the first GRF ‘Young Scholars’, she completed an internship at GRF. She also interned at the Center for Turkish Studies of the Middle East Institute in Washington DC prior to working as Project Assistant for one of the projects conducted by this institute in Gaziantep, Turkey. She then worked as an International Relations Expert at the Union of Black Sea and Caspian Business (BCB), an initiative of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD). She is currently working as Program Director at GRF, where she is the director and rapporteur of the Middle East and North Africa Task Force, coordinator of the Roundtable Series on the Rule of Law, Institutions and Development, and co-coordinator of the Young Global Program. She is fluent in Turkish, English and French.

Ezgisu Biber
Tine Radinja

Tine Radinja

Nationality: Slovene

Tine Radinja is a Consultant on Social Development with the World Bank in Middle East and North Africa, contributing to the development of social policies and legislative framework in several countries. He was adviser to League of Arab States on the establishment of representative NGO platform in the region. He is serving as Deputy Mayor at Municipality of Škofja Loka responsible for the human resources and nominations, legislative and statutory issues and leading the areas of sports, culture and social affairs. Before his mandate of Deputy Mayor he was a president of European Youth Forum. In this position he was a leader of the world’s biggest youth platform representing tens of millions of young people in Europe; managing a multinational and culturally diverse Board (team of 11 volunteers); overseeing the work of the Secretary-General and inter-alia 25 employees in the Secretariat with an annual budget of 3 million euro. In 2010 he co-founded a LTD Misli Naprej (Think Forward) that provides a tailor made consultancies and educational opportunities to international organizations and governmental bodies.

Emre Tekişalp

Nationality: Turkish

Emre Tekişalp is a young professional who has worked on some of the most important technological developments of the last five years – mobile services in Africa, wearable devices and block chain. A mechanical engineer by training, he started his career at Intel, managing their business with one of the leading emerging market PC manufacturers, whilst also working on Intel’s expansion into Africa. He later joined their wearable devices team as one of its first employees, where he was one of the product managers of the Intel Curie platform. Before starting business school, he worked on introducing cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technology to financial institutions during his internship at Ripple. Emre is currently pursuing his MBA at Columbia Business School. He is also an MBA Associate at Lightbank, a Chicago based venture capital firm.

Emre Tekişalp
Anıl Kemal Aktaş

Anıl Kemal Aktaş

Nationality: Turkish

Anıl Kemal Aktaş was born in Erzurum. After attending to primary and secondary education in Erzurum moved to Ankara for university education. Graduated from Bilkent University by 2012 with BA in International Relations. Meanwhile provided professional service in the field of consultancy on EU funded projects and P&R services for the diplomatic missions of foreign countries. Honoured with Jean Monnet Scholarship in 2013 and got graduated from University of Essex with an MA in International Relations. Thesis topic of this MA program was “Rethinking EU-Turkey relations under the effects of the Euro Crisis:  Identifying Turkish Preferences on Foreign Policy”. By 2016, will be graduated from Bilkent University LLM Program titled “Law and Economics”. Between 2012-2015 served as an advisor to CHP Headquarters in different sections. Firstly been an advisor to Deputy Chair in Charge of Public Affairs. Between 2014-2015 worked as an advisor to Deputy Chair in Charge of Economic Policy. Addittionally, been an active member of CHP Youth and was International Secreteriat Member for 2 years (2012-2013) as IUSY and ECOSY (YES) Coordinator. During this position being occupied, CHP Youth become the member of this two organizations for the first time in her history.

Kazho Latif

Nationality: Iraqi

Kazho Latif majored in Business Administration in the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. While at university, Kazho was the editorial editor for the University’s newspaper. Kazho have participated in the Hult Global Case Challenge which is held by the Clinton Initiative as the captain of the Iraqi team. As a student, Kazho worked with the Agency of Technical Cooperation and Development in Iraq working with the refugees in 2014 and 2015. Kazho currently is employed at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani as the Academic Preparatory Program’s Record Coordinator.

Kazho Latif
Evrim Görmüş

Evrim Görmüş

Nationality: Turkish

Evrim Görmuş is a comparative political scientist with expertise on political economy in the Middle East. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Oxford and a doctoral degree in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her doctoral dissertation is focused on the state and Islamic business relations in Turkey and Egypt. Currently, she holds a TUBITAK post-doctoral research fellowship at Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey and works as a research associate with Development Analytics.

Shireen Shelleh

Nationality: Palestinian

Shireen Shelleh is a partner and managing director at the Center for Engineering and Planning (CEP), which is a Palestinian consulting firm with headquarters in Ramallah, Palestine and operations in Canada, UAE, Iraq, Libya, and Jordan. Since 2004, Shireen has lead technical teams of national and international experts in spatial and strategic planning and infrastructure development for urban and rural communities. Shireen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Birzeit University in Palestine, and a master of Executive MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, USA. Shireen has been selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader of the Year 2016 (YGL), She is a member of the Palestinian Business Women Forum (BWF), and several social and technical organizations.  She is fluent in Arabic and English.

Shireen Shelleh