Speech by Mustafa Kemal Abadan, TPF Chairman & CEO.
Ladies and gentleman, distinguished guests and our special honoree of the evening Sayin Rahmi Koc, good evening.
I am Mustafa Kemal Abadan, Chairman and CEO and a Founding member of the Turkish Philanthropy Funds. I am privileged to welcome and honor a most generous Turkish philanthropist of our lifetime and a longtime friend and supporter of TPF, Mr. Rahmi Koc. But before I acknowledge Rahmi Bey’s unequaled contribution to Turkey, Turkish society, civil and cultural causes, I would like to take a short detour to connect the dots between TPF and Rahmi Bey. The seeds of an idea that became TPF, and whose 10th anniversary we are here to celebrate began actually in 2005, when Haldun and Nihal Tashman decided to do something extraordinary. They concluded that after completing a very successful business career in the USA they would share their good fortune with the Turkish community in need. But rather than just handing over the funds to various organizations, they choose to be a catalyst for others and make an even bigger impact. With that in mind, Haldun Bey made his rounds and convinced initially 4 others (myself among them) to create the first Turkish Community Foundation in the United States. Our belief, and mission was then and is today to support civil society in Turkey, invest in defined impact areas such as Education, Gender Equality, Social & Economic Development and Disaster Relief.
From the initial 5 founders we grew rapidly to a family of 50 then to 500 and many more have joined our cause since then. Together we have built an organization that is trustworthy, transparent, progressive and most importantly connects donors such as yourself with others in building a community of philanthropists.
In our mind, there is a distinct difference between giving and Philanthropy, whereas giving is simply an act of generosity, Philanthropy is that and much more. It is a moral commitment to see that one’s good deeds have the impact that is desired. That is what distinguishes all of us here, thank you for joining hands with us.
In the past 10 years TPF has raised over 26 million dollars for Philanthropy. We partnered with 56 NGOs in Turkey and supported 107 separate projects in 62 cities. We distributed a total of 15 million dollars in grants to date. In parallel we were able to establish 25 separate Philanthropic Funds under the umbrella of TPF, from where more grants will be made in the future. And with the participation of 16 Founders Society and 8 Legacy Society members we were able to build up an endowment of 3.5 million dollars.
As we go into the next 10 years our goal is to exponentially multiply our impact on the ground and build our endowment to 10 million dollars. My sincere hope is for you to help us broaden the reach of TPF by using your networks, getting the word out about the great deeds that TPF and its philanthropic community is doing, and actively participate in bringing others to our cause to achieve our ambitious goals.
Now let me give you a sense of the great examples of generosity that have taken place in the last decade. There are too many to mention them all here tonight, but at the risk of omitting some. I would like to highlight a few that have stood out.
One of our earliest donors, Nick Pocaro was able to establish a school in his father-in-law’s name in a town where no one had ever been to college. According to the wishes of Dr. Sevket Turgut Nese, TPF facilitated the sale of a vacation home with the proceeds going to Sabanci University. Haldun Tashman was the visionary behind the creation of Turkey’s first Community Foundation in Bolu. George Schieber created an award in the name of his late wife, Sena to support women from Turkey to attend graduate school in the USA. The scholarship fund was established to encourage young female scholars in the field of economics. A couple channeled their wedding “gifts” into education opportunities for children and made a donation to Darussafaka society. “Young Professionals for TPF” was established to build the next generation of donors. Their efforts have culminated in raising over $100.000 to support low income high school girls. When natural and manmade disasters struck in Van and Soma TPF was there to support survivors with long term relief efforts with pooled funds of over $600.000. Last but certainly not least hundreds of people contributed through the TPF platform to international relief efforts in Somalia, Nepal, and the Japanese earthquake in 2011. Closer to home, funds were channeled to local organizations in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
These and countless more individual and collective efforts of fundraising have made a huge difference in small and large doses. I would encourage you all to browse through our website to discover the diversity of philanthropy under the umbrella of TPF.
Let me now turn my attention back to our Most Distinguished Honoree, Mr. Rahmi Koc. Rahmi Bey was certainly one of the earliest believers in our foundation. Mr. Koc and Ramerica Foundation joined TPF’s Founders Society in 2008 and have generously given to TPF and participated in our outreach to Turkish organizations. With his kindness and generosity TPF has been able to make significant contribution to the lives of many people. While you have so many options in furthering your philanthropy Rahmi Bey, I would like to thank you sincerely for trusting and believing in our organization so early on.
As most of you are aware Mr. Rahmi Koc and Koc Family has set the highest standard of excellence in philanthropy in Turkey, the United States and all around the world. This generous tradition starts with Rahmi Bey’s father, Mr. Vehbi Koc. Vehhi Bey’s strong belief that “I live and prosper with my own country” has been transferred to future generations and is seen by them not only as an essential part of business strategies but also philanthropic contributions.
Established over 48 years ago The Vehbi Koc Foundation is the first private Turkish foundation pioneering in education, health and culture. The foundation institutionalized the world of philanthropy in Turkey and worked for two decades to establish the legal framework paving the way for other businesses to do the same with their social investments. Vehbi Koc foundation has established 17 public schools, a hospital, a university, awarded tens of thousands of scholarships and invested more than $500million most of it in the last decade, in social causes. Their approach to philanthropy has been proactive in a creative way just like their approach in business.
I would like to pause for a minute and in this occasion thank Rahmi Bey and The Vehbi Koc Foundation directors personally for honoring my mother Professor Nermin Abadan-Unat in 2012 with the very prestigious Vehbi Koc Award in Education. Your generosity in this regard was the final catalyst for me in the formation of the Abadan awards in the name of my parents. Now in its 3rd year it is given annually and administered at Koc University. When we talk about giving circles we mean how one action of generosity can spur another and keep it going . So once again Rahmi Bey, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Mr. Rahmi Koc’s contributions to philanthropy was recognized by many distinguished institutions worldwide. In 1997, Suleyman Demirel, the President of the Turkish Republic, bestowed Mr. Rahmi Koc with the “Outstanding Service Award” for his work in the fields of health, education and social services. In addition The Koc Family was honored by:
- The World Monuments Fund with the 2007 with the Hadrian Award for their philanthropy and support of museums and research in history, art and culture.
- In 2010, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, awarded Koç Family with the “Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy,” the most prestigious philanthropy award in the world.
- In 2011, Rahmi Bey received BNP Paribas Philanthropy Award in Paris.
- In 2014, Rahmi M. Koç received the “Responsible Capitalism Lifetime Achievement Award” for his significant contributions to Turkish economy and his investment in healthcare, education and cultural programs across Turkey from FIRST, a leading London-based multidisciplinary international affairs organization.
And now in 2017, it is my great honor to present TPF’s first “Philanthropist of the Year Award” to Mr. Rahmi Koc.
I would also briefly acknowledge other Founders Society members who could not be here tonight: Serpil and Yalcin Ayasli, Haluk Soykan, The Attar Family, Nakiye and Ziya Boyacigiller, Assia and Vedat Eyuboglu, Nur and Aziz Hamzaogullari, Aylin Tashman Kim, Sevket Turgut Nese and Erinch Ozada.
I can also not help myself but extend my deep felt thanks to the board of TPF, without whose commitment, passion and dedication we would not have achieved our goals: Mehmet Lütfi Kırdar, Lawrence Kaye, Civan Gökay, Bilge Ögün Bassani, Nakiye Boyacigiller, Ahmet Bozer, Assia Eyüboğlu, Merve Gursel, Nur Hamzaogullari, Özgür Karaosmanoğlu, G. Lincoln McCurdy, Gulden Mesara, Alp Onalan, Maya Ondalıkoğlu Bobbitt. And we could have hardly accomplished our work without the most dedicated staff headed by our first employee Senay Ataselim Yilmaz, in the role of COO, CFO, Goncagul Ay, Deniz Amber Kale and Sandra Escauriaza.
Also tonight would not have been possible without the special efforts of the event committee: Mehmet Kirdar, Merve Gursel, Gulden Mesara, Nur Hamzaogullari, Senay Ataselim Yilmaz and Deniz Amber Kale and our sponsors, Kavaklidere Wines and Turkish Airlines.
In the past 10 years we have been incredible fortunate to have worked with donors large and small. No matter what the size of their contribution was. But you are the inspiration for us to push further. Because of you, we, have committed to give our time, energy to make a difference to the society we have physically left but could not separate our hearts from it.
In a short time we managed to build TPF into the leading US foundation for high-impact social investments for Turkey. We are proud to provide a flexible platform so that your individual dreams can be realized. Words cannot do justice to fully describe our journey of the past 10 years, as we have truly become an amazing community. A big Thank You for being here and joining us in this most amazingly rewarding journey. On behalf of all of us assembled here, I would like to raise a toast to all of you and TPF’s growth over the next 10 years and beyond!
Serefe / Cheers!