Board Members

Ayşe Taşpınar Gatenyo (President)

Ayse Taspinar Gatenyo is an artist with an international foundation, stemming from
her extended life experiences in Europe, Asia and the United States. Her expanded
travels have equipped her with the essential communication skills to successfully
interact with people with an array of different origins and backgrounds through her
fluent mastery of English, Italian, French and Turkish. Ms. Gatenyo’s passion for
sharing, exchanging and uniting through music has lead her to give lectures and
presentations as a speaker and pianist alike. Her most recent accomplishment was
her highly acclaimed presentation at the Soka Gakkai International Culture of Peace
Resource Center in Los Angeles, CA. and her participation in their “Distinguished
Speakers Series”. Additionally, Ayse offered to give a lecture and piano performance
on the topic, “Rediscovering the shared cultural heritage of Armenians and Turks
through music.” This same year, Ms. Gatenyo was invited to perform as a soloist to
perform Chopin’s second piano concerto with the UCLA Symphony. Active as a
soloist, chamber musician and accompanist, Ms. Gatenyo has been performed at
major concert halls worldwide. Ayse finalized her Doctorate program under the
tutelage of world recognized pianist and pedagogue, Vitaly Margulis. She also
earned a W. Ulmer Dissertation Fellowship in support of her dissertation subject,
“Armenian and Turkish Piano music in the Ottoman Empire”. She holds a Masters
degree from the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana University as well as a Bachelor
degree and Conservatory Diploma from Turkey and Italy’s Giuseppe Verdi
Conservatorio di Milano. Ms. Gatenyo received fruitful guidance throughout her
musical development from Svetlana Navarsardyan.

Senem B. Çevik (Vice-President)

Senem B. Çevik, Ph.D, is a lecturer in International Studies at University of
California, Irvine and University of California, Los Angeles. She teaches several
courses in diplomacy, communication and experiential learning at both campuses.
Prior to joining UCI, she was an assistant professor at Ankara University, Turkey
and lecturer at Atılım University, Turkey. Since 2007 she has served as a fellow with
the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI), a non-profit that studies societal conflict
and psychologically informed dialogue. Çevik was a Leadership Institute fellow at
the Center for Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) at Bennington College in 2015.
During her 2015-2017 Tobis fellowship at UC Irvine’s Center for Ethics and Morality
she completed her research project on Turkish-Armenian musical diplomacy. Çevik
was invited to join the Turkey-Israel Civil Society Forum (TICSF) an initiative of the
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung in 2015 and currently serves an active board member.
Çevik is also a faculty member of the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) a campus based
citizen diplomacy initiative. She has attended several NATO training programs on
media, terrorism and strategic communication. In 2010 she attended the Stanford
University Summer Institute in Political Psychology and received training in public
diplomacy from University of Southern California in 2013. Her research focuses on
public diplomacy, peace-building, strategic communication and conflict
management with an emphasis on Turkey and the Middle East. Dr. Çevik has a co-
edited book (with Philip Seib) titled Turkey’s Public Diplomacy (Palgrave Macmillan,
2015) and co-authored (with Burcu Gültekin Punsmann) Pathways to a Common
Future: Youth Perspectives on Turkey-Israel. Çevik is the author of numerous journal
articles, book chapters and monographs in both English and Turkish.

David Niemetz (Treasurer)

Baruh Burak Gatenyo (Secretary)

Burak Gatenyo started his construction career in 1987 in Istanbul where he has a
Civil and Structural Engineering degree from Yildiz Technical University. He holds
certifications in Construction Management; Architecture and Interior Design; two
general contractor “B” Licenses. Being a multi-faceted person; he became
immediately a key person to projects he worked in the beginning of his career.
Managerial skills and success in dealings with legal authorities made this hard-
working civil structural engineer a very popular owner representative project
manager at young age. He successfully designed / built many large projects or
directly involved in design and managed large projects of different natures for
individual owners to governments. He became expert in design; construction
management and general contracting of textile and chemical factories; office
buildings up to 32 storey high; bridges and water structures in concrete and steel
structures. Running his own company has provided him with vast managerial
experience, with a good conception into successfully implementing a market
launch with development strategies, which includes, direct, on-line, corporate and
affinity marketing.

Van Jewell

Van Jewell a solo artist who is professionally known as Van Hinton. Van later joined
The Actor’s Workshop, where she studied for two years in Studio City. To date,
Van’s television credits include “Leadfoot”, an After-School Special, as well as a
featured role in an episode for the long-running daytime television show, “The Bold
and the Beautiful”. She also appeared on “The Gong Show” and came in second. In
2004, Van took on a new role when she became CEO and co-founder of Smooch

Inc., a premium clothing line Van created along with her husband and CFO, Larry
Kantor. But in 2008, Van returned to her music roots when she and Kantor formed
Smooch Music, Inc., an independent record label distributed by Alliance
Entertainment. Van and Larry worked for years, with Shawn Rivera of La Face
Records’ “Az Yet”, on recording Maya Angelou’s last project before her passing
called “Caged Bird Songs”, an album of her spoken word performances over hip-
hop beats, and R&B and gospel tracks.

Brian O’Neal

Brian O’Neal is a Grammy Nominated American music artist. He is a singer, pianist,
composer, producer and performer best known for his work with the ground-
breaking Rock, Roll and Soul band The BusBoys. Over his career he’s led the band to
millions of records sales, provided on camera appearances and soundtrack
participation for major films and television shows and toured the nation. Brian
continues to expand his horizons, producing film, television, recorded works and
working with charitable organizations and causes.

Mykesha Robinson

Mykesha A. Robinson is the founder of the World Music Commission. Mykesha
began her career in international relations and diplomacy in 2010 as a member of
the Los Angeles Consular Corps Choir. Working alongside U.S. Diplomat and
Conductor George Tom Novinger, Mykesha coordinated musical events for the U.S.
Department of State Regional Office of Foreign Missions and the Consular Corps
Choir. With over 100 diplomatic offices in the Los Angeles Consular Corps,
Mykesha aimed to stregnthen and organize diplomatic relationships through music
and the Arts. Mykesha and her company World Music Commission are committed
to the Tent Partnership for Refugees (TP4R). The TP4R partnership was founded by

Turkish Billionaire Hamdi Ulukaya, an is collaborative group of fortune 500
companies and NGO's engaging in world-wide refugee solutions through private
sector engagement. Mykesha has also enjoyed a
career in public service as a strategist in Advance Planning for a U.S. President. She
enjoys community service by giving back, attending musical events and
volunteering to support her children's education.

Vanda Ayrapetyan

Vanda Ayrapetyan was born in Armenia and raised in Los Angeles. She received her
Bachelors in Political Science (minor in Russian Studies) from Occidental College in
LA. Vanda also earned a Master’s degree in International Economic Affairs from
George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in DC.
Currently, Vanda is a Relationship Banker for Citi’s Public Sector Group within the
Corporate and Investment Bank, helping manage the Bank’s client portfolio of state
and local government entities. In her spare time, she loves spending time with
family and friends, exploring hiking trails, traveling, kickboxing, and international
dance and music.

Akın Orbay

Akın Orbay is composer, producer and drummer based in Los Angeles, his vision is
to relate to people’s lives and bring perspective through music. Born in Ankara in
1994, he started playing drums at age 15, studying with drummer and
percussionist Teymuralp Merter. Coming into Berklee College of Music in 2012,
he put the same passion for drumming to write and produce music. Graduating

Summa Cum Laude in 2017, he continues to play and produce music around the Los
Angeles area, and hopes to bring his vision to life, as well
as continue learning different parts of music-making.