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News May 27, 2009 - 6:54 PM

Outstanding Connecticut citizens to be honored in NYC

By One To World

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Former U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays and international education leader Betsi Shays of Bridgeport will be honored alongside Greenwich residents Matt and Melanie Yildizlar, who founded the Yildizlar Education Fund, at the One To World Fulbright Awards Dinner on June 4th at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

This event honors outstanding individuals who have made a contribution to international understanding through their lives and work, in the tradition of the late Senator J. William Fulbright. Harriet Mayor Fulbright serves as Honorary Chair of the event and speaks each year.

Also honored will be Vanessa B. Kerry, Fulbright scholar to the U.K. and daughter of Senator John Kerry, for her contributions to global health and her international medical service in Ghana, Rwanda, and Cuba; William R. Rhodes, Chairman and President of Citibank and Senior Vice Chairman of Citi, for his career-long financial diplomacy; and Stephen F. Moseley, President and CEO of the Academy for Educational Development for his global service in the fields of education, health, and the environment.

Congressman and Mrs. Shays, sweethearts since high school, served in the Peace Corps together and have dedicated their careers to international cooperation. Betsi Shays has been a leader in the Peace Corps organization through the Coverdell World Wise Schools and the Center for Field Assistance and Applied Research. She served most recently as Director of the National Security Language Initiative of the U.S. Department of Education. Christopher Shays, a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, supported nuclear non-proliferation, the work of the United Nations, and the increased use of public diplomacy. He was recently appointed to the eight-member, nonpartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Matt and Melanie Yildizlar founded the Yildizlar Education Fund (YEF) at University at Buffalo in 2002 to provide an educational bridge between Turkey and the United States. YEF provides scholarship funding for undergraduates from Turkey to attend UB, Mr. Yildizlar’s alma mater. Mr. Yildizlar also helped to create a program for students to earn a dual degree from Istanbul Technical University and UB. Mr. Yildizlar is president of Metalight Industries and Birchwood Associates. Melanie Yildizlar has an extensive knowledge of the Turkish culture, speaks Turkish fluently and works to further YEF’s mission to create understanding between Turkey and the U.S. Surviving a long cancer battle, Mrs. Yildizlar is an advocate and volunteer for head and neck cancer patients at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York City.

One To World’s mission is to create global citizens and inspire a peaceful world. Proceeds from this event support programs that bring Americans face to face with international students and Fulbright scholars to share their lives and perspectives in life-changing ways. The One To World Fulbright Awards Dinner furthers the Fulbright vision of peace through international understanding.

For information or tickets to the Fulbright Awards Dinner honoring four outstanding Connecticut residents, please contact Tracy Snyder, Executive Director, 212-431-1195, or email

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