Girl Scouts of Connecticut CEO to speak at WestConn graduate commencement

DANBURY, CONN. — Jennifer Smith Turner, CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut (GSC), will speak to students receiving graduate and doctoral degrees at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 21, in the Feldman Arena of the William O’Neill Athletic and Convocation Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Ext. in Danbury.

In announcing Turner’s selection as the commencement speaker, Ellen Durnin, dean of WestConn’s Division of Graduate Studies and External Programs, said, “We are fortunate to have Jennifer Smith Turner as the speaker for the fourth graduate commencement ceremony this year. Ms. Turner is the CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, the premier organization for girls in the state. The organization is committed to providing more than 65,000 girls and adults with opportunities to empower them with self-confidence and leadership skills to improve their lives and the world around them. This is closely aligned with WestConn’s mission, and is exemplified by our graduate students, who combine work, family responsibilities and graduate school to be ready to meet the personal, professional and social challenges of the future.”

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.

For more information, call (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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