LBIS Profiles

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This post originally appeared on TurkofAmerica.com. 

The Most Influential Turkish-American Women #17 –When contemplating Turkish -American lobbying activities in the U.S., Lydia Borland is one of the first names that comes to mind.  After all, she has been walking the halls of Congress since 1989.   Even though she isn’t a Turkish citizen – her dad is from North Carolina and her mother is Italian, – she speaks fluent Turkish and has absorbed the Turkish culture as only one who has grown up in the country can.  She has worked with Turks for over 30 years. At the beginning of her professional career, she worked in İzmir in 1983.  Her first job was as an intern at the IMF Africa Department.

Borland has more than 30 years of public and private sector experience in international business and government relations, but she approaches each project with the enthusiasm and energy of an eager novice.  Her success record on behalf of clients speaks for itself.

She helps identify investment opportunities and organize political fundraising campaigns, including Turkish American Political Action Committee (PAC) fundraisers.  Lydia played an important role in establishing the Turkish American PACs, which have empowered Turkish Americans in the political arena.  She advocates on behalf of US-Turkish relations and Turkish companies.  She assists in growing the Congressional Turkey Caucus and provides strategic direction for lobbying contract.  Members of Congress and congressional staff regularly reach out to her for guidance on issues affecting the region.

Borland has a keen understanding of how US policy can reflect the views of businesses and the non-profit community. She is currently President of LB International Solutions, LLC, an international consulting firm, which provides consulting services to The Gephardt Group, The Livingston Group, and other companies. She has also been a Washington Representative for a military aircraft parts supply company, and a lobbyist with the Embassy of Turkey since 1989.

Borland served as Washington Representative for the Turkish-U.S. Business Council (TAIK/DEIK) from 2000-2007 and Deputy Executive Director of the U.S. Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce for several years.  In addition to Turkish, Borland speaks fluent Spanish, Italian, Azerbaijani, and French. She earned a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University and a M.B.A. in Finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Borland has successfully created and managed campaigns to secure financial assistance and favorable legislation for U.S. and non-U.S. clients. She facilitates international business development for U.S. companies and for non-U.S. companies in the U.S. Additionally, she has experience in trade promotion and market development, helping businesses identify and partner with international companies.  She currently is working to develop international trade and investment between Native American tribes and Italian or Turkish companies.

Borland established and manages political PACs to support members of Congress and candidates who support client issues. She meets with political candidates to evaluate their positions and advocate on issues and organize fundraisers for members of Congress and candidates. She has an extensive network in Congress, the Administration, the diplomatic community, and business circles.

Before establishing LB International Solutions, Borland was executive director of Caspian Group LLC between 2001 and 2013. She managed Caspian Group clients and contractors. She lobbied the Natural Resources Committee for the successful passage of HR2326, a bill sponsored by Congressman Tom Cole titled: Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011.  The bill would facilitate economic development by Indian tribes and encourage investment by Turkish enterprises. The issues it sought to relieve were addressed in other passed legislation.

Borland: The Influential name of the Turkish American Lobby

Lydia Borland, because of her father James Borland’s job as a tobacconist, spent her childhood and teenage years in Izmir, Turkey. In the past few years, she has become one of the most influential names of the Turkish American lobby, and also just happens to be my dear childhood friend. Lydia, in this past week, was named one of the Thirty Most Influential Turkish American Women. These thirty women were sent a letter of congratulations fromPresident Barack Obama. When I read this in the news, I was ecstatic and got together with Lydia after thirty years when she came into Istanbul for a conference last week. I was met with a Lydia who still had her same youthful beauty, but was now a very successful businesswoman. In all honesty, this was the first time I was ever meeting with a “lobbyist,” so there were several things I wondered and wanted to ask about.
“Turkey taught me that ‘no’ can mean ‘maybe’ I first asked Lydia what exactly it was that she does for Turkey. She told me that she had been advocating on behalf of Turkey on Capitol Hill since 1989. With her advocacy and lobbying, the Turkey Caucus in Congress has reached 154 members of Congress, surpassing those of the Armenian and Greek caucuses. She explained that a few years prior to this success, this was something unimaginable. Her belief and faith in her colleagues and members of Congress are what she believes made this progress Lydia, aside from speaking Turkish, believes that having grown up and lived in Turkey, understanding Turkish people and politicians, and in short, being closely familiar with Turkish related matters, has given her a big advantage within the Turkish American lobby. Lydia went on to say: “I had a wonderful childhood. I went to an American school, and despite never having taken a single class in Turkish, I learned the language because of my Turkish friends whom I played outside with after school. Them including me right away embodied and demonstrated the sincerity of Izmirli and Turkish people. Most importantly, in the American understanding of business, “no” means no, there’s no going back. But in Turkey, I’ve come to learn that “no” can mean “maybe”. In Turkey, I learned about marketing and flexibility, and a little about wiliness. I think that all of these things are so vital in what I do and the success I’ve achieved. In my conversation with Lydia, the topic of discussion naturally came up to be about Izmir. I asked her, “Do you miss Izmir? What about Izmir do you miss the most?” “Of course I miss it. My childhood and youth all took place in Alsancak, Izmir. I missthose beautiful, sincere days, and mostly the simit, Izmir style beans, and vegetables (especially the artichokes). At least now after opening a location in New York,Smith is coming to Washington too, but Izmir’s simit is incomparable.
To conclude, I asked Lydia, “Is the Izmir you lived in as a child the same Izmir
you see when you come back to visit?” During her last visit to Izmir, whether she went to Reyhan Pastry Shop or wandered in Gundogdu, she saw familiar and unfamiliar faces, and of course like most all places, realized how much Izmir had changed and gotten more crowded. She reminisced how she used to play hopscotch and rollerblade on the same streets that were now too crowded to even imagine doing those activities. She added that after the 1. Cord was filled with seawater, it lost its beauty a little bit, receiving its share of the change that touched Izmir.
Lastly, I asked Lydia where she feels she’s from when in America. She responded, “My mom is Italian, my dad is American, but I feel born and raised in Turkey. Because of Turkey, I am where I am in my career. Because of this, I feel immensely together, we used to rollerblade down the streets of Alsancak with my dear childhood friend Lydia Borland, and today, she’s one of the most influential names in the Washington, DC Turkish American Lobby. There are no words to describe my pride…
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