Tuncer, Isabelle
Isabelle Tuncer, Executive Director of El Sistema Santa Cruz
  (Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz )

Alum Isabelle Tuncer embodies the adage, “Think global, act local.”

A Fulbright scholar who grew up in France, earned a law degree in Italy, and completed her master’s in commercial diplomacy in 2000 at the Institute, Tuncer has had a long interest in development. She found a new application for her skills and ultimately a new job after becoming involved in community and school events at her children’s elementary school. Parents saw a divide between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking parents at the school and came up with the idea of bringing in the music program, El Sistema, to bring people together.

One school turned into many more and a full-fledged nonprofit where Tuncer is now the executive director was created. The program played an important role as a safe space during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to serve the greater community. 

We kind of know increasingly that art is a way to cope on the social-emotional level. We could see that it was really making a difference.
— Isabelle Tuncer, Master of Arts in Commercial Diplomacy ‘00

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MA in International Trade