A Message from Our President
We live in a global world that requires understanding, goodwill, and peace among all of humanity, and it is an important goal that we must work toward. The social media, internet, and other communication tools provide many different ways of interacting with others. People from different geographies and cultures are now in constant communication. While engaging with others in far distances, we are neglecting to communicate with the people we live with in our same community. The concept of friendship and neighborhood has changed dramatically. Someone could make a friend from the other part of world and culture through social media while not seeking to ask the next door neighbor's name.
Atlantic Institute was founded to bridge the deep gap of social interaction, to promote respecting differences, and to commit to the common good in the State of South Carolina.
The volunteers and members of Atlantic Institute want to put "the American Dream" into practice as in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: "The American Dream, the dream of men of all races, creeds, national backgrounds, living together as brothers." Volunteers and members of Atlantic Institute pursue happiness in the happiness of others through volunteerism and philanthropy. Atlantic Institute members and volunteers have been working diligently to fulfill the above mentioned principles in the State of South Carolina.
We sincerely hope that you enjoy coming to our many events that we put together and continue to help us share in dialogue.
Dr. Akif Aydin, President
Dr. Aydin received his Master's degree from the FSU Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and PhD from Clemson University's Department of Economics. He is a businessman with several small businesses in Florida and South Carolina. Dr Aydin is married to his wife Ozge and together they have three children. As one of the Founders of Atlantic Institute, he is inspired by Fethullah Gulen's philosophy of dialogue and peaceful and constructive coexistence.
Greenville Office Director
Christina has lived in the Greenville area for 4 years now as a transplant from Florida. She is the Executive Assistant/Event Coordinator for Atlantic Institute Greenville office. She has been an Event Coordinator for most of her life as well as a Personal Assistant for Motivational Speakers, Pilots and Business Executives. She carries a passion for the work that Atlantic Institute accomplishes as she has invested thousands of dollars in herself over the years in Personal Growth courses. Bringing the community together to create Understanding between cultures is a dream that Christina created when she was 23, so she doesn't "come to work" she comes to "create her dream" for the community.
She has two biological children, a boy and a girl, and is also a foster parent and birth doula in the community. She was raised primarily in Tampa Fl and is the oldest of 7 children (5 of which are adopted from Foster Care) She loves exploring Greenville and Volunteering with her family in her spare time.
Ph: (843) 790-3708
Executive Assistant /Event CoordinatorPaula has lived in the West Columbia area since 2013. She was born and raised in Michigan but has lived all over the United States and even Panama. She is the Executive Assistant/Event Coordinator for Atlantic Institute Columbia office. She has been an Event Coordinator for most of her life as well as an Administrative Assistant at a Native American Tribe in Michigan.
She has two biological children, an adult boy and a 9 year old girl. She is and was very involved in her children’s lives. She was the treasurer and advancement coordinator for her son’s Boy Scout Troop as well as Pack leader for Cub Scouts. She is now on the PTO board as Fundraising VP for her daughter. She was raised primarily in Lansing, Michigan and is the oldest of 3 children. She loves exploring the Columbia area and Volunteering her time at her daughters school in her spare time.
Independent Dialogue Coordinator
Catherine Fleming Bruce is author of the award-winning book, ‘The Sustainers: Being, Building and Doing Good through Activism in the Sacred Spaces of Civil Rights, Human Rights and Social Movements. In 2017, she became the first African-American winner of annual Historic Preservation Book Prize, presented by the University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Bruce founded TNOVSA LLC and TNOVSA Global Commons as methods of engagement in transformational politics, global ethics and norms, and historic and cultural preservation. She led the effort to preserve the home of South Carolina civil rights activist Modjeska Monteith Simkins, and is currently preserving the Cyril O. Spann Medical Office along with the Visanska Starks House and Carriage House, all in Columbia, South Carolina. She currently serves as the State Coordinator for Black Voters South Carolina Initiative, and March On South Carolina, a state program of March On and Fight Back PAC.
An alumna of Agnes Scott College, with a dual BA in English/Creative Writing and Art, Bruce received her Master of Arts in Mass Communication and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina, and pursued doctoral studies there in mass communication, philosophy and ethics, international relations and international law. She has worked in public television, and is a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). She has participated in such global governance efforts as the World Summit for the Information Society, held in Geneva and Tunis by the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union.
LaRahna Hughes is a California native but she has spent most of her adult life as a southerner in Georgia and most recently South Carolina. She is mom to five which includes 2 sons, 2 daughters and 1 daughter in law and “Grandma Blanket” to three grandchildren: two granddaughters and a grandson. She has bachelor degrees in human resource management (with a concentration in training and development) and personnel psychology. She continued her formal education at Regent University where she earned a Masters in Practical Theology. She has also completed additional graduate studies in the field of History.
She became engrossed in community work while living in Atlanta, Georgia and that passion has been fueled by her quest to help repair and rebuild sustainable communities. She spent twenty years of her professional career as a consultant to community-based nonprofits, faith organizations and small businesses. Her call to community development work as a consultant led her to explore other ways to impact change at the community level. It was this pursuit that eventually led her to seminary and farming. Faith and food have become part of her life work. Her strong belief is that our faith community holds the keys for shaping sustainable values in our community and she wholeheartedly believes that nature and farming provide lessons and parables for living. She is a champion for social change as it relates to living our values. Her life work of building sustainable community is evident in her current life work. She is currently the owner of Seeds Cafe, Farm and Market which is an emerging farm to table restaurant, farm, farmers market and residential community. She is also a part of Reimagining Church which currently serves the community by offering a monthly interfaith spiritual gathering “Soul Food Sundays” and by seeking out solutions for meeting the spiritual needs of the diverse, interfaith community in which she lives. Her work allows her to plant seeds daily in the lives of others. One of her regular reminders about living is to “plant good seeds and water them with pure water.” Her life work is to plant good seeds as often as possible and to water good seeds that others have planted, because seeds try their best to grow!