The Current Executive Committee

Quentin Compton-Bishop - Chairman

I am a former diplomat, Middle East specialist and now company director whose family originates in part from Smyrna and Beirut. Researching my family background brought me to the Levantine Heritage interest group and the immense satisfaction of meeting like-minded amateur and academic researchers (as well as several cousins) who are committed to recording and sharing the rich heritage of the Levant region. I am delighted to support the Levantine Heritage Charitable Foundation and its mission to develop, preserve and communicate research into the Levant for the benefit of all peoples and future generations.

Craig Encer - General Secretary

Having spent half my life in Istanbul and seeing the rapid waning of the wonderful multicultural nature of the city as a child left an indelible mark on me. Later, in the late 1990s with the urging of friends I started on a quest to record some of this unique richness with interviews with elders that grew into a body that spawned a web site in 2004, which then built a community of supporters in an organic way around it, culminating in Symposium in Izmir in 2010. I still believe all culture is precious, needs to be nurtured and studied to survive and is only meaningful when it is shared; this to me is the spirit of Levantine Heritage. I am grateful for all your support in this celebration.

Philip Mansel - Trustee

Dr Philip Mansel FRHS is a historian of France and the Middle East, particularly interested in the Levant. His books include Constantinople: city of the World’s Desire (1995), Paris between Empires (2001) and Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (2010), the first history in English of Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut in the modern age. One of its themes is how Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived together in cities. He has lived in Paris, Istanbul and Beirut, lectures widely in the UK and abroad and is currently writing a life of Louis XIV. For further information see - interview:

Jonathan Beard - Trustee

I live in Istanbul with my family and currently hold the position of Chairman of the Catoni Group and British Chamber of Commerce of Turkey. My family came to Turkey in 1846 to start a trading business, the business as established in what is today Iskenderun. Licorice, cotton and tobacco form the main commodities. Today 6 generation’s later I continue to expand the Catoni business in trading and transport logistics. As is dictated by our family rules I look forward to the day my eldest daughter Natalie takes over the business to become the 7th generation. I am proud to be referred to as a Levantine, I received my education in Arabic, Turkish, English and French and indulge in these cultures without hesitation. I look forward to returning to England one day but realize it shall not be permanent as the Levant and its beauty and intrigue is our natural home.

Kalliopi Amygdalou - Trustee

Born in Chios, Greece, Kalliopi Amygdalou holds a Diploma in Architecture from the National Technical University of Athens (2009). During her undergraduate degree she studied for a semester as an Erasmus student at Istanbul Technical University. She completed an MSc in Culture and Society at the London School of Economics (2010) and subsequently she pursued doctoral studies in Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (2014). Her doctoral research, titled ‘A tale of two cities in search of a new identity: The politics of heritage and modernisation in early 20th-century Izmir and Thessaloniki’, was funded by Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (2011-2013) and by the Foundation for Education and European Culture (IPEP, 2010-2011). Kalliopi lived in London from 2009 to 2013 and is now based in Izmir.

Axel Corlu - Trustee

Born in Izmir, Turkey, to a Levantine (Italian/Greek/French/Armenian) family, Dr Corlu has a B.A. in Political Science and Public Administration from Bilkent University (1996), an M.A. in History from Bilkent University (1999), and a Ph.D. in History from Binghamton University-SUNY (2011).
Since 2002, he has taught history courses at SUNY-Binghamton, SUNY-Cortland, and University of Mary Washington on the U.S., the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Middle East, as well as thematic courses such as History of Warfare and History of Food. His current research into the history and sociology of food is shaping up into an article titled “Going to War over Baklava and Cheese?: Food as Identity in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1912-Present” and another article in military history is on its way, titled “An Elaborate Fiction: the Myth of the ‘Western Way of War’ in the Context of Byzantine and Ottoman Warfare”. His academic profile can be found at Dr Corlu lived in upstate New York from 1999 to 2012, and now resides with his family in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Zeynep Cebeci Suvari - Trustee

After obtaining a master’s degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Zeynep Cebeci Suvari attended Bosphorus University’s history department. Mrs Suvari has been working on her Phd thesis on the Italian Community of Istanbul in the late Ottoman period. She previously taught in Ca Foscari University of Venice and Bosphorus University in Istanbul. Mrs Süvari lived in Damascus in 1999-2000 and studied Arabic. Recently Zeynep has been one of the prominent members of the ‘Istanbul Volunteer Group’, that assisted in the logistics and organisation of the Levantine Conference that was held in that city in November 2014 and continues to do oral history interviews with elderly Levantines of the city - interview:

Nuri Çolakoğlu - Trustee

Born in Izmir in 1943, he graduated from Robert College and took his BA in Diplomacy and International Relations from School of Political Sciences, Ankara. He has worked as a journalist & broadcaster and media executive since 1969. He has held positions in Turkey and abroad, including TRT Foreign News Department, German News Agency DPA, Sweden STV, German WDR Radio, Aydınlık Newspaper, BBC Turkish Section, Milliyet Newspaper London Bureau Chief and then News Editor and TRT General Manager Chief Advisor.

Since 1991 he has been involved in launching or restructuring a number of private TV channels - Show TV, Cine 5, Olay TV, NTV, CNBC-e, CNN Turk, Fenerbahçe TV, Kanal D Romania, TEB KOBI TV, Grand Bazaar TV/Kapalıçarşı TV; HTV Health Channel. Right now he is in the process of launching a new channel in Burkina Faso, Africa.

He returned to Doğan Media Group in 2002 as CEO & President of CNN Turk. Here, he served as the General Manager of CNN Turk, ANS International Production Company, CEO of Turkish Daily News [now Hürriyet Daily News] and helped launch Kanal D Romania. He was the President of Doğan Media International and Advisor to the CEO of Doğan Media Group before he retired from the group at the end of 2015.

He is now working in his own company NMC New Media Company Television and Advertisement Corporation, developing internet content, e-learning projects and writing corporate histories. He is currently serving as Executive Board Members of Istanbul Arts & Culture Foundation and Contemporary Istanbul. He had served for ten years as the Chairman of TV Broadcasters Association of Turkey which he helped in its founding.

Committee members during our Conference at Istanbul, November 2014