Commencement Speaker Spring 2017
Throughout her career in public service, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner has worn many hats including serving as a legislative aide, a cabinet member in Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White’s administration, a lobbyist for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, a Cleveland City Councilmember and candidate for Secretary of State. Turner has made it her mission to empower individuals, institutions and communities to achieve greatness.
As the oldest of seven children, Turner’s work ethic, empathy and commitment to public service stem largely from her humble beginnings in Cleveland, Ohio. Determined to rise above her circumstances and break the cycle of poverty, Turner worked her way through school earning her Associate of Arts degree from Cuyahoga Community College and her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from Cleveland State University. In 2013, Turner received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wilberforce University. She is an assistant professor of history at Cuyahoga Community College – giving back to her community every day.
At Turner’s urging, Ohio Governor John Kasich created the Ohio Task Force on Community and Police Relations. Turner co-chaired the task force and also co-chairs the newly formed Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board – created to develop the first-ever standards for law-enforcement agencies statewide. Turner is a board member of the Karamu House and the United Way of Greater Cleveland.
Turner’s passionate advocacy for economic fairness, workers’ rights, reproductive freedom and voting rights earned her regular appearances on national television and radio programs. As a thought leader, she continues to use her voice and cache as a force for progressive change. She has her own show, The Nina Turner Show on the Real News Network and is a political commentator for CNN. Moreover, Turner has earned accolades from numerous organizations across the country. She was named the 2011 State Senator of the Year by The Nation; a Drum Major for Justice in 2013 by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation; Inside Business Magazine’s 2014 Power 100 — a list of the 100 most influential CEOs; Politicians and Civic Leaders in Northeast Ohio — and the Power 100: Top 25 in 2015.
In 2014, Turner chose to forgo her last term as State Senator and ran for Secretary of State as the Democratic challenger – to fight for free and unfettered access to the ballot box for all Ohioans. Her belief in voting as the foundation of our democracy and the one place where we are all truly equal made her an unrelenting and outspoken critic of voter suppression efforts across the country and resulted in an unprecedented national grassroots fundraising operation.
Nationally, she became a strong voice in progressive politics and was the leading voice for Senator Bernie Sanders during the tumultuous 2016 Democratic presidential primary.
Turner lives with her husband Jeffery Turner, Sr. in the same community in Cleveland in which she grew up. They are the proud parents of Jeffery, Jr., a local law enforcement officer and Second Lieutenant in the Ohio National Guard.