A Colorful Story by Hülya Koç
They say birds of the same feather flock together. I believe that’s why my husband Aydin and I developed a productive rapport and strong personal feelings for each other very quickly after being introduced by family members when we were in our twenties. We were both energetic, hard working and competent business executives. Naturally, our skill sets and world view have evolved over the years as we have grown old together, but our core values have remained the same regardless of the years passing by. Thanks to this solid foundation, our marriage of 40 years has always been harmonious and a refuge against the challenges of modern life. After realizing that we make a great team in our personal life, we decided to see if we could do the same in the business world.
Together, we established a temporary staffing agency in the Bay Area focusing on the education field. My specialty was operations – recruitment of personnel and customers, while Aydin was great with numbers and focused on longer term, strategic matters. We were able to grow the firm into an operation with a dozen offices, serving hundreds of customers and placing thousands of personnel every week. Our agency became a leader in its industry and attracted attention for its profitable growth trajectory. After several inquiries, our firm was acquired by two private equity investment companies. We are gratified that it continues to make progress towards becoming a national operation. Afterwards, we have continued to focus on our strengths – investing in promising high tech, retail and service start-ups and mentoring young entrepreneurs.
In addition to angel investing, Aydin and I share another passion – philanthropy. We both grew up in families who taught us to share and give back to our communities. Since the first day we’ve earned an income, we have done our best to make our parents proud as we honor this principle. As a woman and an entrepreneur, I’ve always been sensitive about gender inequality, discrimination and economic empowerment of women. As a father of two daughters, Aydin felt the same way. Naturally, we chose to make an impact with our personal philanthropy in education and women entrepreneurship, with a mission to equip women with the tools they need to overcome challenges.
Our philanthropic involvement grew stronger when Aydin joined TPF’s Board after meeting Turkish Philanthropy Funds’ (TPF) Founder, Haldun Tashman. We quickly realized that TPF, with its community foundation structure offered a platform for substantial philanthropy for Turkish-Americans that did not exist before. It also allowed us to customize our philanthropic passions and make an impact in Turkey as we continued to live in the U.S.
In 2015, when we began to seriously consider selling our home of 29 years – where our daughters had grown up and which had appreciated in value considerably – it was natural for us to also explore philanthropic solutions involving TPF. After further research, we felt that establishing a Charitable Remainder Trust would satisfy our objectives in the best possible way. We sold our house and with part of the sale proceeds, we also established a permanent fund at TPF. Through this fund, our legacy will live forever. As we cherish the memories of our old house, we are happy that we got our wish – making a long-term contribution to causes of our interest in Turkey.