headshot Ayla Göksel

Senior Fellow - Class of 2010 - Turkey

Working to improve education, empower women and create rural developments

Ayla Göksel is the CEO of the Mother Child Education Foundation (ACEV) and Hüsnü Özyeğin Foundation, two pioneering non-profit organizations in Turkey working in the areas of education, women's empowerment, and rural development.

Ms. Göksel began her career with the establishment of ACEV, which over the past fifteen years has evolved into one of the leaders of the non-profit sector in Turkey. ACEV is an NGO working in early childhood, female literacy, and parent training, and has provided education services for over 550,000 individuals and trained 6500 teachers and volunteers. ACEV's programs are also implemented in nine other countries in the Middle East and Europe. ACEV is recognized not only for its innovative programs serving impoverished communities, but also for its scientific research and policy work. One of ACEV's major accomplishments has been the national advocacy campaign 7 is Too Late! to expand preschool education in Turkey. As a result, preschool access increased 107% during the campaign and a major policy change was enacted, universalizing preschool education in 32 provinces with a commitment to universalize in the whole country by 2012.

Ms. Göksel was appointed to be CEO of Hüsnü Özyeğin Foundation in 2000, and was charged with steering the foundation from a traditional student financial-assistance outfit to diversify its programmatic areas with a social-justice outlook. The foundation has since developed youth-development programs, invested in primary education and girls' education serving 30,000 students annually, embarked upon a rural development program, and most recently established Özyeğin University. She has led the establishment of Özyeğin University on behalf of the foundation and continues to serve actively as a Trustee.

With the conviction that the role of civil society in education must be extended to embrace policy formulation and advocacy efforts that would influence systemic change in the country, Ms. Göksel has also been instrumental in the establishment of the Education Reform Initiative, a multi-partner policy institute focused on education reform in Turkey. She also serves on the board of TOHUM Foundation for Autism.

Through her involvement in a number of start-up organizations, Ms. Göksel has diverse experience in strategic planning, service delivery, fundraising, advocacy, policy development, and institution-building. She holds a BSc from the University of Bath, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and has conducted fellowships at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard. She was selected to be a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008.