Central Minnesota Community Foundation Executive Director Caryl Turnow to Retire

Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Caryl Turnow announced her intent to retire from her positon as Executive Director of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation at the end of the fiscal year, June 30th, 2021. Caryl stated, “It has been my honor to be able to work for the community foundation and serve Central Minnesota in this capacity. I am so appreciative of how welcoming the entire community was to me when I came to the St. Cloud area 5 years ago to begin my new role at CMCF. I have met so many wonderful people and fallen in love with the community. While I plan to retire to allow more time for family and travel, I intend to stay in the community and find new ways to be involved in supporting our community.”
Turnow has spent 25 years working within community foundations. Before accepting her current position, she worked for the Northwest Minnesota Foundation in a variety of roles.  Turnow considers her work with community foundations to be her calling. She says, “I have often said working for a community foundation is my dream job. It allows me to listen to a donor’s passion and connect that passion with needs in their community, helping to make a positive difference for all.”
Meanwhile, Turnow also feels fortunate to have had not only a professional career that has been fulfilling but also an education. She’s a graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where she received her B.S. in Accounting. After graduating she became a Certified Public Accountant and operated her own accounting practice in Roseau, Minnesota where she and her husband located when they married. 
“The opportunity to grow a business in a rural Minnesota town taught me how important it is to be truly connected with your community. I learned how I could give back to a community that supported me and my business.”
Some of the projects that Turnow is most proud of leading while at CMCF are…
•    Overall assets for CMCF have increased by $78.8M to $134.7M during Turnow’s leadership.
•    Providing corporate advised funds and establishing a donors circle, both of which are ways to keep donors connected to the community’s needs.
•    Hosting the Get on the Bus events in partnership with the United Way of Central Minnesota, these tours took donors inside the nonprofits to learn how these agencies were addressing issues and learn how they could help.
•    Administering the first Central Minnesota Opportunity Grant which concentrated on supporting programs for people of color in the areas of housing, education and economy.
•    Administering the Central Minnesota Difference Maker Grant. Rather than making several small grants to entities within the community, CMCF started the Difference Maker Grant under Turnow’s leadership, which provided a competitive grant round for larger inclusive projects in the community.
•    Addressing this past year’s challenges with COVID by establishing and promoting a Response and Recovery Fund. Also, related to the previous year’s opportunities, implementing and assisting with CommunityConnections webinars which provides educational material on various philanthropic and social topics.
•    Laying the groundwork for a community wide Convening on Building Equity in our region with community partners.
Turnow credits being involved with community partner organizations for giving her the opportunity to learn more about how the foundation can support the community. She currently serves as a GSDC board member and DEI Committee Chair as well as a PFSS board member.  She has also served on the CreateCommUNITY board, and as a Jugaad Leadership mentor.
As Turnow begins her transition into retirement, staff at CMCF asked her for some words of wisdom. If she could offer any advice to someone just starting out in a similar career field to her own what would she offer?
“I have often said this role is a bit like being a matchmaker.  You have the opportunity to help someone fulfill their passion by connecting them to a need in the community. The best way to do that is to know the needs of your community and share the opportunities to those who have the resources and desire to help. As a servant leader, I have found this to be extremely fulfilling.”
Here at the Central Minnesota Community Foundation, we are forever grateful for Turnow’s leadership. She’s played an integral part in defining the roles of CMCF in connection to its main nonprofit CommunityGiving. CommunityGiving President Steve Joul says Turnow’s dedication to growing the Central Minnesota community is inspiring.
“Caryl was the first Executive Director for CMCF following the creation of the umbrella entity CommunityGiving. Through her leadership, commitment to donor service and collaborative team building, she has defined this position and taken the Central Minnesota Community Foundation to a whole new level of operational excellence with community impact at the forefront of all CMCF does.  We were fortunate to hire such an outstanding leader in Caryl and will greatly miss her presence as an integral part of the overall CommunityGiving team.”
Speaking on behalf of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation Board, Board Chair Debra Leigh says she doesn’t know where the foundation would be without Turnow guiding the way.
“Amazing, awesome, incredible are just a few words I would use to describe Caryl’s leadership and service to the Central Minnesota Community Foundation.  I also want to say thank you to Caryl and express my deepest gratitude for her dedicated work and friendship.  I don’t know where CMCF would we be without her influence.”
In addition to her volunteer work in the community, Turnow plans to pursue her artistic side, traveling and spending time with her family.  The mission of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation is to engage people, connect resources and build community. CMCF sincerely thanks Caryl Turnow for her dedication to our mission.
The Central Minnesota Community Foundation (CMCF) attracts and administers charitable funds for the benefit of the local community. Since 1985, CMCF has grown to over $110.5 million in assets and awarded over $122.5 million in grants to non-profits.  The CMCF is governed by a local board of directors and is a partner of CommunityGiving, which is a collaborative of community foundations united under a single framework to create efficiencies that maximize the impact of our donors.  Collectively, CommunityGiving administers over 880 funds totaling more than $153 million. Learn more at CommunityGiving.org/CentralMN.


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