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Meet the Staff: Kim Turner

kim 

by Molly Rutledge 

Meet Kim Turner, the Ohio Arts Council’s Constituent Investment/Grants Associate and Accessibility Coordinator. She's a proud mom of two, root beer aficionado, cubicle decorator extraordinaire, and instiller of inclusion.

Never owning up to her deserving spotlight, Kim is a silent leader. She keeps things running smoothly on the grants side of the office--where she's worked the majority of her 17 years at the OAC. She never misses a birthday, always offers encouragement, and busts out her sharp, subtle wit right when you need a laugh.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thanks to Kim’s recommendations, we’re highlighting different organizations, resources, and people that focus on accessibility and the arts. She continues to teach us about accessibility, helps us through those "on" grant years, and finds the answers to the tough questions.

Now it's our turn to ask her a few about herself: 

Q: What do you like best about your job as accessibility coordinator? 
KT: I enjoy helping people through our process. I want people to know that we really do want to help out. I also love working in the constituent investment office--we all work really well together

Q: If you had to call yourself an expert on something, what would it be?
KT: Keeper of the peace. 

Q: You’ve lived quite a few places, in Wisconsin, Arizona, New York, Missouri, North Dakota, Illinois, and Nevada. Did any place in particular really resonate with you?
KT: I would say my favorite place was Jack's Valley, Nevada. We had horses, I showed my dog, and we lived near the Sierra Nevada Mountains--it was beautiful and I have great memories. Moving around so much was difficult, but I am thankful to have had the opportunity to live across the United States not many people get that chance. 

Q: Why do you call Ohio home?
KT: I moved here with my family when my dad got a position at The Ohio State University. I had been working in NYC and was homesick, so I decided to move with my family from Arizona to Columbus. We moved here in 1987 and I haven't left. I've stayed for so many reasons. I decided to stay in Columbus after college because I was acting with a few theatres, doing commercials and film, and was making a living at it. One thing led to another, I found myself in arts administration and I love my job, I met my husband Jeff, who was born and raised here, and now I really feel like Columbus is my home. 

Q: You have a BFA in acting from the Ohio State University and were involved with CATCO before you came on board at the OAC. Are you still involved in theatre, or what other ways do you participate in the arts?
kim and gabe
KT: Sadly, I haven't been involved in theatre and I do miss performing--perhaps once I survive the teen years of my children I will get back in it. I've now moved into the role of audience and encourager of my kids. It's been wonderful to watch my children's self-esteem rise by their participation in band. 

Recently my son, who is on the autism spectrum, participated in some Shakespeare and Autism workshops. It was truly transformative watching him and other individuals involved. To see him go from anxious and afraid, to walking with his eyes closed into the middle of a circle with many strangers watching just him, and then have him follow the sound of a bell, was just amazing...truly demonstrating how the arts impact and transform us. 


Q: Your daughter is really into horseback riding. Is that something you instilled in her?
KT: Horseback riding was her doing. She's been doing it for 6 years and loves it. She's had some struggles with anxiety and ADHD, and horseback riding has really helped. Watching her persevere through some very difficult times in her life and seeing how she transfers that in her horseback riding and competing has been very rewarding. 

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Q:
What other activities do your children Bella and Gabe engage in?
KT: We are definitely a "gamer" house--Dungeons & Dragons and Minecraft are regular conversation topics. They recently moved to a new school and we've found that the arts have been great for them--band especially. When they have struggles, the arts seem to be their constant. It is helping them through some difficult social times.

Gabe has also taken up jujitsu which seems to be helping his self confidence (although when 9 a.m. rolls around on Saturday morning, he's not much in the mood!) 

Q: You personally have had the challenge of finding places and activities that welcome children of all abilities. Is there anything you can recommend?
KT: I am really proud of the work we've been doing with VSA Ohio on the Arts and Autism Initiative. It is really difficult as a parent to find activities where your kids can feel like they can just be themselves and don't have to worry about someone shushing you or wondering what's going on.

A few years ago our previous deputy director was contacted by another parent, and one thing led to another--we ended up partnering with VSA Ohio on the Arts and Autism Initiative. This initiative has several goals, one of which is to connect parents with arts activities. We have an advisory group of parents, artists, arts administrators, experts in the field, along with individuals who are on the autism spectrum who have helped guide us through the process.

Right now,
you can go to NEXUS, our online searchable database housed at the OCALI website, and search activities. 

Q: You’re the Accessibility Coordinator at the OAC. For those of us who aren’t familiar with the “A-word,” what does that mean as far as the arts go? 

KT: Accessibility doesn't have to be scary. Many people are intimidated by accessibility but really it's a work in progress. Yes, you have to be accessible as an organization, but really it's more than that. I am a believer in the Universal Design concept--we all want to participate in activities, be it theatre, dance, baseball, band, etc.

When I go with my parents to see a performance we need to be able to get in without climbing stairs. They want to attend, they have money to spend, but if they have to climb stairs, it makes it REALLY difficult for them. It's about a basic respect for all people so everyone can enjoy life. 

Q: In the office, you’ve continued to teach us about “putting the person first.” Can you take a moment to explain how and when to use person-first language and why it’s important?
KT:
There are numerous views about person-first language, but to me it's about respecting the person as a person who just so happens to use a wheelchair or is on the autism spectrum, etc. So, you simply put the person first. For example, my son has Asperger's Syndrome. The most important part is he is my son, then the next part is he also happens to have Asperger's Syndrome. I once heard someone describe their need to use a wheelchair as freeing--not confining. So saying "confined to a wheelchair" isn't accurate at all because he felt free; the last thing he felt was confined. 

Finish these: 

Most people don’t know...Fabio cooked dinner for me, twice. (He was dating my friend at the time.) 
I can’t live without...rice flour, Plants Vs. Zombies, The Walking Dead 
My favorite music/musicians are...The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Foo Fighters. 
My children...make me laugh everyday. 
My colleagues are...a lot of fun to work with and some of the hardest working, caring, thoughtful, funny, kind people I know. 
I am the...lefthandedest left-handed person I know. 
Accessibility can be...freeing.  
Art is...what you want it to be. My first experience of art was when I ironed crayons in wax paper with my mom--it was great! Today for me, it is my kids' art and music.  

If you have questions or comments for Kim, you can reach her by email at kim.turner@oac.state.oh.us.



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