Commencement Speaker - Jennifer Smith Turner
CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut (GSC)
Jennifer Smith Turner is CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut (GSC). As the largest organization in the state serving girls, GSC provides more than 65,000 girls and adults with opportunities and experiences that develop their potential and empower them with self-confidence and leadership skills to improve their lives and the world around them.
Prior to taking the helm at GSC, Turner was president/CEO of Smith & Associates LLC, a company that assists organizations in achieving their strategic and operational potential by providing management consulting, strategic planning and executive coaching.
Turner is the former deputy commissioner for the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development, an appointment made by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. During her tenure as deputy commissioner, Turner was credited with re-energizing the state’s economic competitiveness and for bringing affordable housing to the forefront of the state’s economic agenda.
Turner served as president/CEO of BerkleyCare Network and vice president of W. R. Berkley Corporation (WRBC) of Greenwich. In this dual capacity she was responsible for growing the occupational managed care business of BerkleyCare and providing managed care leadership to the WRBC property casualty operating businesses. Turner also logged 10-year stints in management positions at Aetna Life & Casualty and Travelers Insurance. She interrupted her insurance career in the mid-1980s to serve the City of Hartford as director of personnel and then as assistant city manager.
A native of Boston, Mass., she is a graduate of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and received her master’s degree from Fairfield University. A poet, Turner has published two books: “Perennial Secrets, Poetry & Prose” (2003) and “Lost and Found, Rhyming Verse Honoring African American Heroes” (2006).
Turner is involved in numerous community and civic organizations. She is the immediate past president of the board of The Hartford Stage Company and sits on the executive committee. She is a regent at the University of Hartford, where she is on the Strategic Plan, Governance and Executive committees. Turner also serves on the board of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Appointed by former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, she served for six years as a trustee of the University of Connecticut and chaired the Health Affairs Committee during most of that tenure. She is a former board member of the University of Connecticut Foundation, St. Joseph’s College, Hartford College for Women, Union College, Connecticut Public Television and Radio, Connecticut Golf Foundation, Porrath Cancer Foundation, the Foundation for Mental Health, the American Heart Association, Boys and Girls Club of Hartford and United Way of the Capital Region.
She lives in Hartford with her husband, Eric Turner.