Ulgen graduated in 1987 from the University of Virginia with a double major in computer sciences and economics. He undertook graduate studies at the College of Europe in Brugge, Belgium where he received, in 1990, a master’s degree in European economic integration. He then joined the Turkish Foreign Service as a career diplomat and worked for two years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara at the United Nations desk. In 1992, he was posted to the Turkish Permanent Delegation to the European Union in Brussels where he took part in the Turkey-EU negotiations on the completion of the customs union. He is currently the managing partner of Istanbul Economics, a consultancy focusing on business strategies for EU accession. He is also the author of numerous publications. His research and opinion pieces have been published by the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Center for European Reform (CER), the World Economic Forum as well as newspapers such as Le Figaro, the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune.
Born in 1964, Z. Damla Gürel was a member of the Grand National Assembly as a part of the opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, since the national elections of November 2002. In her capacity as a Member of Parliament, Mrs. Gürel has worked on a number of committees, including NATOPA, where she was elected after two years as a reporter of the NATOPA Mediterranean Special Group. She is also a member of the Turkish-USA caucus and the Turkish Democracy Committee, which is a bipartisan parliamentary committee examining initiatives that would strengthen the parliament, specifically building constituency relations, increasing parliamentary research capacities and strengthening parliamentary committees. Besides her parliamentary responsibility, she has been an active NGO volunteer in Ari Movement and helped to restructure the youth branch of the organization, known as “Young ARI”. She was involved in the development of the “Genc-Net” (Youth-Net) project. She started her business career professionally in the Tourism sector. After 5 years Travel Agency experience, she moved to the Hotel sector where she stayed another 5 years. She was the Sales Manager of Istanbul Sheraton Hotel and Towers until 1991. In 1991 she joined her family owned group of companies, active in cooling, energy, car leasing and insurance sectors. Besides being Board Member of the whole group, she was active as the Product Manager of the cooling chemicals. Z. Damla Gürel began her education at the Saint Georg Austrian Gymnasium and continued at the Istanbul University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. Following her BA, she continued her education with a year-long postgraduate course in Tourism also at the Istanbul University. She also attended a program at the International Summer University, Freie Universitaet Berlin, where she completed two courses: "The European Union after Enlargement" and "Global Politics". Damla Gürel speaks and writes Turkish, English and German. She is married and has two children.
Mithat Özbek graduated in 1988 from the economics department of the Hacettepe University in Ankara. He then attended the University of Indiana and received his MBA in 2000 from the joint program of the Istanbul Technical University and Exeter University. He started his professional career at Sogut ceramics in the export department of the company. He became a Deputy Director General at Puccinelli, a company operating in the food and beverage industry and then the managing director of the UK based paper and packaging company David S. Smith in Turkey. He worked for 10 years for David S. Smith in this capacity. Following the acquisition of the local branch of the company by Sabanci/International Paper owned Olmuksa, he joined the senior management of Olmuksa. He is a member of several NGOs. He is the managing partner of Istanbul Ekonomi.
Nazife AL graduated from Istanbul Bilgi University, International Relations Department in 2010. She is currently pursuing her master degree in International Relations at Middle East Technical University