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Poverty remains the most important factor for determining whether a girl can access an education. Our mission is simple - we provide financial support to low income families to improve primary and secondary school completion rates for girls and young women.

Study after study has shown that when you educate a girl, you also educate the next generation. However, persistent gender bias in many aspects of culture and society has left girls out of the educational system, at great economic and social disadvantage. The facts are irrefutable, and we intend to #changetheratio with the #EWTFundforChange


Our financial support covers essential education expenses so these young women in Turkey are more likely to continue their education and graduate. Better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers. All these factors combined can help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty.


Deniz Demirörs

Deniz is a branding and career management consultant with 25 years of experience in corporate and non-profit settings. Deniz is an active member of the Turkish-American community in the Houston area, having served as president of the American Turkish Association (ATA). She founded the Education for Women in Turkey Fund (EWT Fund) because she came from rural poverty, and escaped that cycle through education she would not have had access to without the generosity of programs like EWT Fund. A life-long learner, Deniz holds an executive MBA.


Samiye Ardiç

Samiye graduated from Hacettepe University Department of Information Management in Ankara. She is a retired librarian with extensive work experience at the Middle East Technical University and the Central Bank of Turkey. Samiye has been an active member of American Turkish Association in Houston for 18 years. She believes that educating future mothers will ensure continuing improvement of the society and the world for the generations to come.

Vice President

Muge Simsek

Mugé received her undergraduate degree in Psychological Counseling from Bogazici University and completed her MBA at The University of Houston-Clear Lake in Texas. She works as a research analyst at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Over the last 15 years, Mugé has been very active in the American Turkish Association of Houston where she served as a member of executive committee and board of directors.  Mugé believes that educating girls is crucial to have healthier families and better-educated generations, to increase economic growth and decrease in infant and maternal mortality. Educating women creates healthy communities from which humanity can benefit. 

Board Member

Elçin Kaleli

Elcin has been in real estate business since 2002. She is a former diplomat and translator with a Masters degree. Ms. Kaleli is married and lives in Houston. She is an active member of the American-Turkish community and has formerly served in the Executive Committee for American Turkish Association as the Marketing VP. A passionate animal-rights advocate, she is a volunteer with SPCA Houston. Her biggest inspiration to take an active role with EWT Fund is her own mom who wasn’t able to continue her education due to financial problems.


Michelle Haskin

Michelle Haskin has been working to increase cultural ties between Turkey and the US. She lived in Turkey from 2010 to 2016, where she worked in the Istanbul office of a global law firm and obtained her Master’s degree from Sabanci University. In the US, she continued her career and her engagement with Turkish culture. She is an active volunteer with the American Turkish Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. She is passionate about increasing women's participation in the Turkish labor force. 

She can be contacted on LinkedIn.


Yesim Jonsson

Yesim feels fortunate to have a family that made her education a priority, and came to the US as an 18 year-old college student to follow her dreams. Yesim has been a supporter of EWT Fund since its inception, and wants to help girls reach their full potential. Yesim has worked for Shell Exploration and Production Company for over 15 years. After graduating from Robert College in Istanbul, Yesim received her BA, MA, and MBA degrees in the US. Yesim is passionate about the education of girls, its power to unlock opportunities for women, and improve the lives of families. 

Board Member

Şuur Biliciler

Suur graduated from English High School for Girls as a valedictorian and graduated with an MD degree from Istanbul University, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine. She is currently a professor of Adult Neurology at UT Health Science Center in Houston. Suur believes if you educate a woman you educate the whole household. With this motto as her guide Suur feels privileged to be an active member of EWT Fund and is in full gear to help girls enable their dreams in Turkey and across the world.

Board Member

Meet our Team


Derya Kahraman Poerschke

Derya is a Bilkent University graduate with Archaeology and History of Art degree. She also holds a degree in Business Management from Houston Community College. Derya and her husband, Scott, are active volunteers of American Turkish Association of Houston (ATA) and Women for Education sub-group. Derya is very passionate about education, especially education that leads to the economic independence for young women.

Past Board Member

Jana Çanan

Jana Canan is a graduate of Istanbul University where she received a BS degree in Geophysics. She is currently working in TGSNopec Geophysical Company as a Geophysicist. She is from Bursa, Turkey and she has been living in Houston since 1990 with her husband. She has two children. She believes in girl’s education, and supports women rights. There are so many reasons why we should support girls education, but the most important one is they improve prospects for the next generations.

Past Board Member

Julia (Hulya)

Julia (Hulya) Unay is a CRM Coordinator with Gillman Honda.  She has been with the Gillman Companies for 19 years, holding various positions. She has worked as Radio DJ in Istanbul before coming to Houston. Julia has been involved with the Turkish community for many years. Julia believes there is no greater satisfaction of being part of something that can make a difference in people’s lives. Every child is a star in the sky, it falls on us to make them shine brighter.

Past Board Member


Gulcin Bal.png


Gülçin Bal was born and raised in Turkey. She immigrated to the United States where she became an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher.


As a teacher and a true believer in the power of education, she dedicated her career to working with immigrants. She was a selfless giver and hard worker, who worked tirelessly to empower her students and their families. 


In memory of her life’s work, her friends and family have generously donated $12,250 to support the education of women in Turkey. Her legacy will continue  through the scholarship awarded in her honor. 

If you'd like to make a memorial donation, please contact 

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