This profile was published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who give back in their communities.
Dominique Jordan Turner is currently the President and CEO of Chicago Scholars, an organization whose mission is to uniquely select, train, and mentor academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities to complete college and become the next generation of leaders who will transform their neighborhoods and Chicago. She is also the founder and face of Speak On It™; a video blog focusing on leadership, success and what she calls the ‘art of winning’. The blog delivers weekly career advice to women, minorities and young professionals. Dominique is passionate about creating equal opportunities for underserved and untapped populations. She believes that education is the most valuable resource to pull marginalized youth out of poverty and into leadership positions that positively influence their communities.
Dominique’s work in the college access space is creating high quality educational opportunities for first generation, and underserved student across Chicago. In addition to Chicago Scholars, she had significant leadership roles at the Posse Foundation and the KIPP Foundation. Outside of her educational experience, Dominique began her career as a Management Consultant at Deloitte, where she focused on process reengineering and customer relationship management. Additionally, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama.
Dominique has been selected for several prestigious leadership opportunities including Leadership Greater Chicago, IMPACT through Chicago Urban League and University of Chicago, the Trinity Fellows Program focusing on Urban Leadership, New York University’s Lead the Way Fellowship, and the Broad Residency in Urban Education. She is the co-Founder of Black Girls Lead, a supportive network for African American women leading nonprofits in Chicago. She was also appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve on the Chicago Board of Education and most recently the Chicago Public Library Board.
Dominique’s leadership hasn’t gone without recognition, as she was recently announced as one of the WVON and Ariel Investments top 40 Under 40 Game Changers in Chicago. She was presented with the Chicago Sky’s #RedefinePossible Women’s Leadership Award, and honored as the 2016 Woman of the Year for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Glamour Magazine highlighted Dominique in their annual 50 Hometown Heroes feature that acknowledges women who are making a difference in their community, esteemed radio show Café Mocha recognized her with the Salute Her: Community Activist Award, and Chicagonista honored her for their 2016 Women Driving Excellence Award. Dominique was also nominated for the Stevie Awards for Women in Business: Female Executive of the Year.
Dominique is fluent in Spanish and holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University and a M.B.A. from Marquette University.
To learn more about what inspires Dominique to give, read the full interview below:
Q1: How do you give back?
I give back because I believe that together we have the power to transform our city and our nation. As the President and CEO of Chicago Scholars, I have the opportunity to help first generation and under-resourced youth in Chicago reach their education and career goals. It is my job every day of the week to see it through that hundreds of Chicago Public School students are equipped with the resources that they need in order to succeed in college and beyond, and through this work I believe I am helping to empower the next generation to reach higher.
I am passionate about mentoring the next generation of leaders and helping to bridge the achievement gap for women and people of color, so that they can have opportunities to accelerate their leadership and live to their fullest potential. In addition to my work at Chicago Scholars, I co-founded an organization called Black Girls Lead and our mission is to nurture and cultivate the leadership skills of current and future Black girl leaders through sharing and leveraging resources, increasing opportunities to expand the impact of our leadership, and modeling leadership skills for the next generation of Black girl leaders.
Though I find the greatest value in mentoring young people in person, I found that my schedule does not always permit me time to sit with every student who wants my guidance. To resolve this, I came up with a way to become a virtual mentor by starting a YouTube series called “Speak On It.” I publish an episode every Sunday exploring a different topic around leadership and success.
I am also a member of the Chicago Public Library’s Board of Directors and prior to joining CPL, I was an appointed member of the Chicago Public School Board.
Q2: What inspired you to start giving?
It is one of my core beliefs that to whom much is given, much is required. It’s a belief that has always been instilled in me. The only reason why I am able to operate in this space and in this capacity is because people have poured into me and I feel that it is my duty to pay it forward.
Q3: What does giving mean to you? Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
For me, giving means pausing to take a step back to consider the needs of others; stepping back from your day to day and looking for the opportunity to change life for someone else. We don’t do that enough. We wake up with ourselves as the center. Being able to shift our focus from what I need to do for me to what can I do for you is hard. It’s a skill. We don’t naturally look outside of ourselves to help others.
Believing that I have an impact and that I can be the solution to the problems I see motivates me to invest my time, talents, and treasure into my community. We can’t wait for others to do it. We can’t wait for superman, the President, corporations, or the 1%. Each one of us as an individual has the ability to change the world, but we have to be committed to doing our part.
The city of Chicago is in crisis mode. People are suffering, and we can’t wait for the next hero. We don’t have the luxury to wait for policy to change, legislation to pass, or jobs to come. We all have an obligation to give what we can for the greater good of our community.
Q4: What would you tell others (women and men) who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice that will help them get started.
- Do what you are most passionate about and what comes natural to you
- Volunteer in your own community so that you have easy access to get there
- Be Consistent
Understanding the importance of consistency is critical because you are making promises to organizations that are depending on you to show up. Participating in something you naturally do well promotes consistency.
Nonprofits largely depend on volunteers to make organizations run. When you make a commitment to mentor and volunteer, you are ultimately committing to the livelihood of the people who need these services. We [nonprofit leaders] are changing lives based on the time you are bringing to the table.
Q5: Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
One story that sticks out in my mind is of a young lady who joined Chicago Scholars two years ago. She was a junior in high school, excelled academically and had dreams of going to college. She was also homeless and dealing with a multitude of issues within her family that without Chicago Scholars, could have put a barrier between her and her future goals. Elevating her story allowed us to leverage our community. It captured media attention and in turn she was able to secure a $25,000 scholarship to get to college. She just completed her first semester with a 3.7 GPA and has an internship lined up for the summer with a major accounting firm. Her story is a direct result of elevating, mentoring, and unpacking her story and tapping into an individual’s unique needs. That is one goal at Chicago Scholars.