Beyond our 250 Syrian refugee weavers, our team is very small,
consisting of two co-founders and volunteers:
Fatima, Hind and all the refugees we work with
Fatima and Hind both arrived in the Sanliurfa refugee camps almost in 2012. They consider themselves fortunate as they have a stable place to stay – for now. The war in Syria has taken an incredible toll on both of them. After a struggle of several months, Hind came to the camp from her hometown of Hama – a city which dates back to Biblical times. Fatima arrived from Edlib – this town was one of the first to rebel against the Assad regime. Since they began weaving in 2013 they have become the very best of friends. Both in their mid 30s, the ladies enjoy their work as they laugh and socialize. They represent the 250 Anka weavers that have chosen to make the best of their difficult circumstances.
It’s an honor to have them on our team, as they are our reason Anka exists.
CoFounder and Volunteer CEO
Neslihan, is the CoFounder and volunteer CEO of The Anka Cooperative. As the founder of Woven Legends, she has been producing high quality, hand-crafted carpets for over 35 years and has won numerous international awards for her carpets which are considered to be among the finest in the world. Neslihan has often been credited with birthing the rug renaissance in 1980’s by exclusive use of handspun wool and natural dyes.
In 2012, she approached local officials in Turkey in order to teach weaving skills to Syrian refugee women at the camps. As an American and a native Turk, Neslihan feels a personal and moral obligation to support the Syrian refugees in Turkey. Through Anka, she has pioneered the idea of sustaining their livelihoods by promoting the art of carpet weaving. Her personal rapport with the refugees convinced her that Anka can expand from serving 250 refugee women to empowering 20,000 refugees by 2020.
Neslihan graduated from Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey and has a B.S. in ceramic engineering from Alfred University, NY. In 2015 she received a Special Citation Award by American-Turkish Council in recognition of many years of supporting strong American-Turkish relations.
Neslihan has one son, Kent, and considers the tens of thousands of women she has empowered over the decades as her many daughters.
CoFounder and Volunteer Chief Strategy Officer
Josh is the CoFounder and volunteer Chief Strategy Officer of The Anka Cooperative. Having lived, worked and volunteered on four continents, Josh brings a global and practical approach to helping fulfill Anka’s mission – to provide dignity of work, transfer of skills and cultural integration through the creation of traditional crafts.
Deeply affected by the refugee crisis he saw while working in Turkey, Josh identified ways for US businesses to lend their expertise to help address this humanitarian dilemma. He previously worked in Strategy & Operations at leading managing consulting firms where he advised Fortune 100 companies on mission critical projects related to Operational Excellence, Process Improvement, and Market Strategy.
Josh first experienced life overseas while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania where he worked with local government and businesses on economic development issues. While earning his MBA at the University of Notre Dame, Josh studied finance and economics in Santiago, Chile. Josh holds Lean Six Sigma and Global Business Professional certifications, and a Mastering Trade Policy certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School. He speaks Romanian and Turkish and is proficient in Spanish.
Josh and his wife Anca have been married for ten years and have two daughters, Alexandra Kennedy & Gabriela Francis.