Finding Time for Others
is in the opportunity business. Born and raised in Annapolis,
the executive director of Opportunities Industrialization Center
of Anne Arundel County, Inc. (OIC) benefited from some early guidance.
In his steady rise to the top of civil service, a grateful Turner
took time to show others how to follow him. Six years after he
retired, mentoring has become a second career.
"When I give my orientations here at OIC the first of every month,
I put three words on the white board," says Turner. "And those
words are, 'attitude,' 'education,' and 'interdependence.' And
I elaborate on those three words to the students who are in attendance
at OIC and try to motivate them---'You have a second opportunity.'"
After 40 years of government service, Turner retired from the
Department of Defense in 1996. His calendar remains as full as
ever. He participates in a varied and dense schedule of civic
activities, usually as a volunteer.
A past member of the Annapolis Rotary and Commander of American
Legion Post 141, Turner has recently worked with organizations
including the Annapolis Planning and Zoning Commission, the Annapolis
Ad Hoc Governmental Structural and Charter Revision Commission,
the mayor's transition team for public housing, RESPECT (a community-based
organization representing African-American issues), the mayor's
Human Relations Commission and Anne Arundel County's Workforce
"Volunteer things keep me busy, and I can give a little bit back
to the city I was born and raised in," says Turner. He graduated
from Wiley H. Bates High School, then the only black school in
Annapolis, in 1956. After serving in the Air Force, he graduated
from Anne Arundel Community College in the late 1970s. When Turner
left the armed forces, he went to work for the Department of Defense
and education became a theme in his development. At DOD, he entered
a three-year printing management internship and was the first
African-American to complete the program.
A father of eight with three children still at home---his wife,
Marilou, is a critical-care nurse at Anne Arundel Medical Center---Turner
has used his retirement as an opportunity to juggle his interests
without slowing down. He is pursuing a bachelor of science degree
in safety engineering from Kennedy-Western University.
"When I retired, I wanted something where I could contribute [to]
helping people, but not have a 9-to-5 job," Turner says. "OIC
allows me to be flexible."
Turner's distinguished career as a printing and publishing director
included a three-year stint in Spain and a five-year tour in the
Philippines. Following his return to America, Turner commuted
to the Pentagon, where he ultimately was the first African-American
to be appointed the rank of area director. Turner was responsible
for all White House, Naval Academy and National Capital Area military
base printing and publishing requirements. Serving a five-year
tenure as director, Turner reached GS-15, the highest non-appointed
government rank. One key to success, he says, is "being able to
interact with people in a positive way."
Turner's track record as a volunteer kept pace with his professional
progress. His numerous professional awards include a presidential
citation and two Navy Meritorious Service Awards---the highest
awards the agency can give. Turner received the Maryland Governor's
Volunteer Appreciation Certificate. In January, at the 14th Dr.
Martin Luther King Awards, he received the Morris H. Blum Humanitarian
Award for his efforts in Maryland human rights causes. Turner
has focused his volunteer work on improving the lives of disadvantaged
Maryland residents, and his service with OIC might be the most
direct application of that principle yet.
"Annapolis, with the exception of the Naval Academy and the city
and state governments, is a tourist city," Turner says, explaining
OIC's role in the community. "It has a lot of hotels and fast-food
businesses. And what we attempt to do is prepare people for the
work force, in a career-ladder job, so they can get benefits such
as leave and insurance and retirement and not have the revolving-door
syndrome where you go into these fast-food restaurants and you
get minimum wage, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel.
In order for them to improve, they have to be educated, and they
have to be prepared."
A non-profit, no-fee service, OIC operates with a staff of approximately
10, eight of whom are teachers from Anne Arundel Community College.
Funded largely through city and county grants, the organization
provides education and job training, primarily through evening
classes taught in English and Spanish. Depending on a client's
needs, his or her experiences may vary from GED preparation to
developing computer literacy.
Turner says OIC targets "very low and lower-income folk living
in the county---that's our niche. We don't go after the younger
kids. We try to look at people who missed their education years
ago and realize that, in order for them to get a career-ladder
job, they need some polishing."
Turner reports that 88 percent of OIC's clients are on the job
six months after they finish training. The agency's holistic approach
helps clients re-focus their entire lives. In addition to teaching
students how to use computers, assemble a resume and excel in
a job interview, the programs Turner oversees provide guidance
for needs beyond the workplace. Clients learn to become investors,
homeowners and mentors.
"I came from a very poor background," Turner says. "And I was
very fortunate, very blessed to get the breaks, the opportunities
that I did. I tried to take advantage of them, and I tried to
make those people who gave me those opportunities proud of me.
I wanted them to know I had the ability to do the job---all I
needed was the opportunity. So I wanted to take that same scenario
and say, 'Maybe I can help somebody else in the same kind of way,'
make them aware of the fact that you can do anything you want
to if given the opportunity."