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Board of Trustees

SHORT BIOS OF TRUSTEES

 

Linda F. Robertson, Ph.D.

 Chair

Dr. Linda F. Robertson served as the Director of the Gerald H. Read Center for International and Intercultural Education at Kent State University, Kent OH USA for two decades after being a school principal for 17 years. In this capacity, Robertson hosted hundreds of visiting teachers and professors from around the world in the Aggarwal-Blackburn Visiting Professor Program as well as the US Department of State’s Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program and the former International Leaders in Education Program. Her funded development work has been financed by USAID, UNESCO, Turkish National Government, SIDA, and others. She is a founding member of the Tigris Euphrates Initiative for Cooperation, a track 2 diplomacy of academics in water-based development. Dr. Robertson has been named recipient of the university’s 2016 Dr. Daniel Mahony Award for Social Responsibility and Diversity. The award is given annually by University College and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to an individual or organization that has achieved eminence for distinctive service relating to and/or enhancing diversity in a humanitarian nature, positively impacting the Kent State community.

Dr. Robertson serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Council of World Affairs, and on Human Resources, Education, and Governance committees as well.   She has degrees from the University of Wyoming, University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, and Kent State University.   Her area of scholarship has been leadership, including university presidential leadership, as well as international and intercultural topics. 

Enver Yucel

 Founder and Vice-Chair

Enver Yücel was born in 1957 in Giresun, Turkey. He devoted all his life to education and considers education as the most important problem that needs to be solved in the world. Enver Yücel is the Chairman of the Executive Board of Bahçeşehir Uğur Educational Institutions, which has established more than 200 K-12 schools in Turkey, an international boarding school in Brockville, Canada, a non-profit university in Istanbul, Turkey, and other education-focused companies like school construction and educational technologies.

Mr Yücel then established non-profit universities in Washington, D.C. in 2014, in Berlin in 2014, in Batumi (Georgia) in 2015, in Nicosia (Cyprus) in 2016, and Plymouth (England) in 2019. He established language schools (Mentora College) in Washington, D.C., Toronto, Ulaanbaatar (Mongolila), Azerbaijan, and Turkey. 

Mr Yucel serves in the boards of these educational institutions. He was granted the award of “Perfection in Education” by the International American Educators Association (PDK) in 2012 for his successes in the design and implementation of innovative and personal education and training programs, and contributions to international education.

Enver Yücel was granted the award of the “Contribution to Global Education” in the UNCA Awards hosted by the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon in 2014. Enver Yücel, the first Turkish person to receive this award in the world, received his award from Ban Ki-moon himself.

In 2015, Foedus Foundation in Italy awarded Enver Yücel with the “Foedus Special Award” for his contributions to education. In 2016, Yücel had speeches about the refugee problem and discussed what should be done about it during a session within the scope of the 46th year meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos. He emphasized that education is the solution for this problem. In 2017, Enver Yücel was deemed worthy of the “Leadership in Global Education” award by the Global Education and Research Center (GLOCER) in the USA for his works in the field of education.

Paul Brunson

Board Member

In the last six years, entrepreneur, author, and television host, Paul Carrick Brunson has become recognized internationally as one of the most successful matchmakers and small business leaders. Paul is the founder and chairman of the award-winning matchmaking firm, PCBA. His boutique company of 9 matchmakers, counselors, and coaches is considered one of the leading firms in the sector, receiving the iDate Best Matchmaker and Best Relationship Coaching of the Year awards in 2015. He received an NAACP Image Award nomination for his first book entitled: It’s Complicated (But It Doesn’t Have to Be): A Modern-Day Guide to Finding and Keeping Love. Appearing as the co-host on Oprah Winfrey Network’s Lovetown, USA, Oprah Winfrey notes, “Paul is much more than a matchmaker!” Debuting this Fall, Paul will host and produce a primetime docu-series on ABC. Currently, Paul hosts Our World by Black Enterprise, a weekly syndicated network and cable TV show where he interviews today’s top newsmakers and business leaders. Earlier in the year, it was announced Columbia Pictures secured the rights to Paul’s life story to create a film about him being a pioneering Matchmaker.

Paul’s insights and unique understanding of relationships and personal development have made him a sought-after expert on interpersonal relationships and entrepreneurship, having appeared in over 350 major media outlets around the world – including appearances on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Nightline, CNN, Entertainment Tonight, the Washington Post, Black Enterprise, Essence, Ebony, and more. Awarded the Innovator of the Year by the Jamaican Impact Organization, he is the proud host and creator of the popular, educational #MentorMonday webinar series. During those sessions, Paul – along with other successful guest mentors – offers practical advice for big dreams. An advocate of global awareness and education, Paul founded and chairs a non-profit organization called “Give Love Build Hope” dedicated to transforming schools in rural areas of the Caribbean. He founded and chairs a professional organization called “BLIP – Black Love Industry Professionals.” He serves on the Board of Directors for Bay Atlantic University in Washington, D.C. He also sits on the Board of Advisors for The Matchmaking Institute, the oldest matchmaking professional organization.

Paul is a graduate from both Old Dominion University and the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He resides in Washington DC with his wife of 14 years, Jill and their sons Kingston and Liam.

 

William Hansen

Board Member

Between 1991 and 1993, Hansen served in the administration of PresidentGeorge H. W. Bushas Assistant Secretary of Education for Management and Budget, the chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that time, Hanson did a one-year stint as an acting Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, also with the Education Department. From 1993 until his appointment to the Department of Education, Hansen was the president and CEO of the Education Finance Council, a trade organization which represents private sector student loan providers with a portfolio of approximately $40 billion.

As Deputy Secretary, Hansen functioned as Department’s chief executive officer, managing 5,000 employees, and overseeing an annual budget of $100 billion. He earned the highest ratings from the Office of Management and Budget for the effective implementation of President Bush’s agenda and was one of the architects of theNo Child Left Behind Act.

Following his government service, Hansen took a board seat with First Marblehead Corporation, a private student loan provider, and he co-founded, with formerU. S. Secretary of EducationRod Paige, the Chartwell Groupa company which, among other things, created and sold materials to assist schools in complying with theNo Child Left Behind Act.

Hansen holds a B.S. in economics from George Mason University and Idaho State University. He has served on numerous boards over the years including the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, the Student Loan Finance Corporation, Collegenet and the College Access Foundation. He is currently a member of the Romney Institute Advisory Board at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management.  Hansen lives in McLean Virginia, is married and the father of six children.

 

Fred B. Bratman

Board Member

Fred B. Bratman is the senior vice president, corporate communications, and investor relations at the United Rentals since 2013. He served as the vice president – investor relations and corporate communications at the same company between 2001 to 2004 and 2008 to 2013. In the interim, Mr. Bratman was executive vice president of Hyde Park Communications and president of Hyde Park Financial Communications, New York. Prior to United Rentals, Mr. Bratman served as director of marketing and communications for Deutsche Bank/North America; and vice president of Sard Verbinnen, a financial communications agency. Earlier in his career, Mr. Bratman was a financial journalist and editor at McGraw-Hill and Dow Jones.

He holds a Master of Science in journalism, a bachelor’s in history of political ideas from London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Bachelor of Political Science from City University of New York.

 

Joanne Dowdell

Board Member

As a successful businesswoman, Joanne has decades of experience creating jobs, helping build a sustainable future and growing the economy. Between 1989 and 2002, Dowdell worked in the DC area for Congressional Quarterly and FDA News. In 2003, she moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to become Vice President and Director of Corporate Responsibility for Citizens Advisers. From 2008 through 2010, Dowdell was the Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Responsibility for the Sentinel Financial Services Company in Montpelier, Vermont. She started running for office in 2011.

Joanne has extensive experience in corporate social responsibility and sustainability, corporate communications and business leadership. She moved to New Hampshire nearly a decade ago to work as a senior executive in the socially responsible investment industry (SRI). Joanne led the environmental, social and governance research on companies being considered for investment. Her accomplishments include helping companies improve the transparency and disclosure of business practices, directing capital to community investment vehicles, shining light on human rights abuses and removing toxic chemicals from consumer products and the environment. Joanne has worked with national and international coalitions of labor organizations, business leaders and both public and private sector agencies to advance public policy, SRI strategies and improve corporate social responsibility practices. 

Joanne received her B.A. from the School of Communications at Howard University and is affiliated with organizations that impact a broad range of social issues. She is a member of the board of directors for the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and served on the board of the Social Investment Forum.

 

Mark Christian Medish

Board Member

Mark Medish has over 30 years of professional experience in policy, law, finance, risk management and strategic communications. Medish served at The White House as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council and at the U.S. Treasury as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs. He also worked at the State Department and the United Nations.

Medish is vice chair and director of Project Associates Ltd., a London-headquartered strategic advisory firm. He is also a founding partner of Mosaiq Law Group, PLLC based in Washington, D.C. He is a co-founder of Keep Our Republic, a 501(c)(3) civic education organization promoting rule of law and democratic culture. His prior leadership posts have included: president of a boutique strategic communications firm based in Washington, D.C.; president of the global private equity division of an asset management company headquartered in Chicago; and equity partner at an international law firm where he led the sovereign advisory practice.

Medish serves on several corporate and non-profit advisory boards. His opinion columns on policy topics appear in leading media outlets. He has participated at Bilderberg, Davos, Milken and other major international conferences. He was as a senior scholar and vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Medish was educated at Georgetown, Harvard, and Merton College, Oxford. His languages include Russian, German and Danish.

 
 

Alexis Bonnell

Board Member

Alexis Bonnell is the Senior Business Executive: Emerging Technology Evangelist at Google. Over her career, Bonnell has developed and delivered over a billion dollars of humanitarian and development programming in over 25 conflict, post-conflict and emergency countries, in almost every sector from education to stabilization, for more than 30 international bilateral donors, 10 U.N. agencies, the military and the private sector. She has held positions with every side of development including: implementers, donors, policy makers and beneficiaries. With more than 20 years of experience in management and communications, Bonnell has worked with: Wall Street and “dot.coms,” and on projects such as the Middle East Peace Plan, Afghan and Iraqi elections, tsunami response, Pakistan and Haiti earthquakes, construction projects, and major logistics operations. Bonnell was a founding senior member of the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID. Most recently, Bonnell served as the Division Chief for Applied Innovation and the Office Director for Engagement and Communications in the Lab. She has supported over 9 Grand Challenges and Prizes, Development Innovation Ventures, many prizes, hackathon, and other internal and external innovation approaches. Bonnell was the creator and founder of the Global Innovation Exchange and Global Innovation Week. Prior to her career in development, Bonnell worked as director of marketing for the Internet Trade Association, where she helped Wall Street and the corporate world understand the impact that the Internet, innovation and technology would have on business, customers and society. She is co-author of the book “Get your Dream Job.”

 

Adam Saffer, Ph.D.

Board Member

Adam Saffer is an international business and development professional with over 35 years of global investment, development, and executive management experience in frontier and emerging markets. He is known for his skills in helping companies scale, raising local as well as international commercial as well as concessionary finance, and co-creating implementable strategies and milestones to achieve mutual objectives. This includes a distinct focus on human capital development, internal and external strategic and market alignment, tech-enabled solutions to improve efficiency and profitability, and intra-regional trade.

Most recently, he was the Managing Director of the Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Facility, where he built a local team of 40 Nigerians working in 7 regional offices and raised over USD $50 million in debt and equity transactions from bilateral donors (USAID, DFID, EU, GIZ), multilateral development banks (World Bank, IFC, DFC, African Development Bank), and corporate foundations (BMGF, Master Card, Chevron Foundation). Key interventions centered around governance, attracting, retaining, and developing staff with the right skills and temperament, and facilitating relationships with buyers, suppliers, financial institutions, local government, and other stakeholders that are built on respect, confidence, and trust (2018-2020). Before Nigeria, he was in Egypt for 3 years where he ran an entrepreneurship and enterprise development project for USAID and an agricultural export project for the UNIDO.

Throughout his career, Adam’s insights on organizational development, restructuring capital, behavioral change, and operational improvements within enterprises have improved revenues for small and medium size enterprises ranging from USD $5 million – USD $50 million. From 2008-2010, Adam was the President of the Americas for Coffey Ltd., an Australian publicly traded USD $4 billion engineering and development firm (later purchased by Tetra Tech in 2015). In this role, with full P&L responsibility and a target for acquisitive growth in North and South America, he boosted net income by an average of over 20% annually. In South Africa (1997-2002), he was the CEO of ECI Africa, a private consulting firm focusing on creating market opportunities for black-owned SME manufacturing and service firms. Under his leadership, ECI grew from 2 to over 50 full time staff, raised over USD $200 million in blended finance (soft loans, grants, and commercial investments), and created 18,000 jobs.

Adam holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from Cornell University, an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a Ph.D. from Pacific University. He speaks English and French and currently serves on the board of the Global Policy Institute in Washington, DC. He is also the chair of the Abuja International Choir, an avid guitarist, ocean sailor, scuba diver, wood worker, and squash player.

 

Peter Schechter

Board Member

Peter Schechter is a global policy expert, political strategist, and business leader. Peter is an innovative international strategic thinker who has launched organizations that today are leaders in communications, policy, public affairs, and hospitality.  Schechter hosts and produces Altamar, a critically acclaimed global affairs podcast. Guests are policymakers, journalists, and business leaders.  He is an official columnist for BRINK NewsAtlantic Magazine’s political risk platform.  He has been involved in supporting Vice President Biden’s presidential campaign and served on the National Finance Committee for Kirsten Gillibrand for President.  Schechter still consults for a small number of high-level clients.  

 Until 2017, Schechter was the Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for the Atlantic Council, a prestigious Washington-based think tank. He took a break from politics and communications to join the Atlantic Council in 2013 – initially as the Founding Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.  In just a few years, Peter grew the Latin America to become one of the most prestigious policy centers on hemispheric affairs. Peter pushed the Council to overcome an elite bias and become a more activist and outward-oriented institution using new media and targeting non-traditional audiences across diverse geographies and issues.  He is the co-founder and intellectual author of Immigrant Food, a cause-casual restaurant company that fuses gastronomy and  immigration advocacy.  The first Immigrant Food location opened in November 2019 to rave reviews in many leading national and D.C.-based media outlets.

Peter speaks six languages fluently and is a sought-out media voice on global issues – in English as well as for Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian media. Schechter spent much of his professional life advising heads of state, political campaigns and business leaders around the globe.  He served as the lead consultant on a number of high-stakes elections – in Latin America, Africa and the former Soviet Union. Schechter co-founded Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates, and, in a few years, it became one of Washington’s premier strategic communications consulting firms.  He left CLS in 2013.

A graduate of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, Schechter teaches about the intersection of international business, communications, and politics. He was a visiting professor at Ben Gurion University’s (BGU) Faculty of Business and Management and was appointed to BGU’s Board of Directors in 2012. Schechter was an adjunct professor at George Washington University, and is a published author of two novels with Harper Collins: Point of Entry and Pipeline (Newsweek called it “a rip-roaring novel about terrorism, nuclear plots and presidential dating.”) He helped launch, was a Board member and is a long-time investor in Jose Andres’ restaurant group. He co-owned Agur Winery, a boutique winery in Israel, and co-manages a Virginia goat farm.

 

Ahu Yildirmaz, Ph.D.

Board Member

Ahu Yildirmaz is the Chief Executive Officer of the Coleridge Initiative, a not-for-profit organization, whose goal is to use data to transform the way governments access and use data for the social good through training programs, research projects and a secure data facility. The secure facility was initially built at the behest of the Census Bureau to inform the decision-making of the Commission on Evidence Based Policy.

Previously, as the founder and former Head of the ADP Research Institute, Dr. Yildirmaz created a legacy framework of unique data analyses and insights leveraging company’s administrative payroll data, which included developing the ADP National Employment Report, Workforce Vitality Report and Evolution of Work research series. She is frequently cited by leading business publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reuters, CNBC, CNN, and Forbes.

Throughout her career, Dr. Yildirmaz’s interest in research and data has been guided in their application for public good. Her experience includes several roles with progressing responsibilities at ADP, Johnson & Johnson, and AT&T in the areas of research, strategy, corporate finance, and market insights. She has taught courses in economics and finance at New York University, Manhattan College, and the City University of New York.

Dr. Yildirmaz earned a doctorate degree in Economics from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bogazici University, Istanbul.

Sinem Vatanartiran, Ph.D.

BAU President, Ex Officio Member

Sinem Vatanartıran holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Administration and has demonstrated a long commitment to education, with her experience in teaching at and leading educational institutions from Pre-K to University. She worked as an instructor at Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey from 1995 to 2000. Since 2000, she has been working at Bahcesehir Ugur Educational Institutions at various levels: In 2002, she established Ugur Career Services Center offering career counseling programs nationwide and training school counselors and leaders on career counseling. Under her leadership, a career inventory test was developed and implemented nationwide that enabled to draw the career map of Turkey. She was then appointed as the high school principal of Bahcesehir K-12 Schools, the largest independent network of K-12 schools in Turkey, and in 2006 Dr. Vatanartiran established the first Science and Technology High School in Turkey. In 2008, she established Turkey’s first Children’s Science Museum, housed at Bahçeşehir K-12 Schools. Today, all Bahçeşehir K-12 School campuses in Turkey holds a children’s science museum. Dr. Vatanartiran was appointed as the Dean of Graduate School of Education, Bahcesehir University, Istanbul in 2012 to 2018. Dr. Vatanartiran has been a prolific publisher in the field of education, including a weekly column in a national newspaper, Vatan. Her scholarly research and publishing focus on higher education leadership, school leadership, educational technologies, educational change and reforms, student achievement, and teacher development. Dr. Vatanartiran is the founding President of Bay Atlantic University.

 

STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT AND RESPONSIBILITIES
To serve on a university governing board is a rare privilege in our society. With this honor come considerable responsibilities, obligations, and expectations. The trustees of Bay Atlantic University have chosen to clarify what we expect of one another and to remind ourselves of our ongoing individual responsibilities. This statement is intended to help those who are asked to consider joining the Board of Trustees to understand more fully what is expected and is also intended to guide the Governance Committee in its review of the overall contributions of each incumbent trustee who is considered for re-nomination to a new term.
Those of us who have been chosen to serve as fiduciary trustees for a period of time—to safeguard the University’s assets and to foster its capacity to serve others—enthusiastically and without reservation accept the following additional responsibilities as evidence of the commitment of each trustee.
The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University and exercises its authority only as it acts cumulatively as the Board and not as individuals. It develops the University policies and oversees management as it carries out these policies.
TRUSTEES OF BAY ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY WILL:
1. Contribute to the Board’s efforts to sustain and advance the University’s mission, integrity, traditions, values, reputation, assets, and autonomy. Each of us as a trustee will advance initiatives that promote the University and will influence others to be part of its work and help it to realize its goals. This principle extends to such areas as student recruitment, relationships with alumni, relationships with donors and prospective donors, interaction with civic leaders, and our personal philanthropy.
2. Energetically and consistently participate in Board and Board committee meetings by preparing and participating effectively and with civility and mutual respect. Board members are required to serve at least one committee and serve appropriately.
3. In recognition of one of the Board’s foremost responsibilities, the financial health of the Council, board members actively support the University’s efforts to enhance revenue sources for financial viability.
4. Conscientiously participate when feasible in campus activities and events as an engaged member of the campus community. Participation in graduation ceremonies is especially important.
5. Each of us is expected to comply with the Board’s conflict-of-interest policy, including the disclosure requirements. Should we be uncertain whether a particular circumstance entails an actual or potential conflict, disclosure should be made in accordance with the conflict-of-interest policy.
6. Refrain from asking the President or other University executive and academic officers or staff for special favors on behalf of ourselves, family, or friends.
7. Strictly maintain the confidentiality of the Board’s executive sessions, especially but not only with respect to sensitive personnel matters. Safeguarding our institution’s reputation and integrity and the right of individuals to appropriate privacy are among our responsibilities as individual trustees.
8. Trustees of the University should contribute personal and professional expertise go accomplish the goals of the University but should also be willing to accept the fact that not all such views will necessarily be adopted.
9. Participate, as requested by the Governance Committee, in a self-assessment to help the committee review our trusteeship service and in assessments of overall Board.
By doing our best to understand and to be informed about the unique institution we hold in trust and by committing ourselves to the success of the University, we will leave our Board and Bay Atlantic University stronger, more vital, and even more consequential than they were when we entered their service.
Trustee responsibilities are set forth in the university Bylaws as well as in the “Statement of Commitment and Responsibilities of Trustees of Bay Atlantic University.”

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I love the experience here at Bay Atlantic University. The university is in the center of Washington D.C., the capital of the US. My friends and I have a wonderful time here at BAU and love the learning experience. It is really an honor to study in a high quality university that gives us top notch education, paving the way for success in our future careers.

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