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Ed.D. Student Shares Research Insight at International Conference

News Dec. 12, 2019

With a passion for developing leaders and equipping teams, doctoral student Kelly Turner presented her innovative insights at Association Success’ SURGE Co-Creation conference. Through both her presentation and a published article, Turner’s practical application has already inspired leaders and communities to move toward focusing on the impact of the organization’s mission.

The free, digital conference invited organizational leaders to hear from experienced and insightful professionals like Turner, who currently serves as the Executive Director of Michigan Potatoes.

Inspired by her own leadership role and experience, Turner framed her presentation around the topic of measuring the value of programs in alignment with the organization’s mission. As she took on a new CEO role, she journeyed through the same questions she explored in her presentation.

“We really used this as a tool to ask, do we still believe in the mission and is that the right mission first of all?” Turner said. “And then second of all, not only how do we as board members feel that we’re meeting the mission but most importantly how do our members feel that we’re meeting the mission.”

The pre-recorded presentations, shared with leaders from all over the world, also included a panel discussion and a published 35-page e-book, in which Turner was featured.

Her article and innovative insights spread to other organizations, inspiring associations like the Florida Sheriffs Association to take on this mission-focused approach for themselves. After reading Turner’s article, the association launched a program that follows the format Turner shared.

“To me, servant leadership has always been a part of my life,” she said. “I’m glad that how I shared it helped others to understand it, and that they can use it then for their nonprofit associations to do good in other parts of the world. It’s cool to be able to help those organizations move forward.”

The practical application she experienced through her study and research was a key element in Turner’s decision to pursue her doctoral degree in the first place.

Turner had spent years looking for the right doctoral program for her that would allow her to pursue her education while also empowering her in her place of work simultaneously. She found that coordination of work and study in Cornerstone University’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership and Development program.

“Being able to put it into practice was most important to me, and that’s exactly what this doctoral program has allowed me to do,” she said. “You learn all these things, which is great, but you also put them into practice, which is the critical step to actually being able to create positive change.”

Turner’s attention is now on completing her final capstone project on the topic of volunteer community size and sense of community relationship. She anticipates completing her program in spring 2020.

Through speaking engagements, published articles and much more, Turner has fostered positive, practical change in communities. “I’m always open to helping others,” she said. “There’s plenty of opportunities to be able to share with other associations.”

Matched with her passion for empowering and equipping others, Turner seeks to continue her influence for cultivating sustainable organizational change.

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