Serendipity. That’s what Sheridan Turner credits for her amazing success. But once you meet her, you soon suspect that it’s a little more than luck that landed the British native as president and CEO of the Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago.
Turner came to this country as a nanny and soon began studying toward her master’s at University of Illinois at Chicago and working at the Circle Children’s Center.
“This was the only place, at that time, to study a constructivist approach to early childhood education,” Turner says. “They believed in hands-on learning.”
That background and philosophy prepared Turner to take over the Kohl Children’s Museum—the North Shore’s only hands-on children’s museum. When Turner joined the museum in 1998, it was still in Wilmette, but had outgrown its building and parking.
Dolores Kohl, the museum’s founder and CEO, brought Turner on with a specific mission in mind. “The museum needed to grow and become a community-funded organization in order to survive,” Turner says.
That meant the board needed to be revitalized and money needed to be raised—$23 million. Turner was the perfect person for the job.
She had already tackled a similar challenge. While working at the Museum of Science and Industry, Turner had negotiated government and private support to raise $37 million for a new parking garage. Using her experience and her contacts, Turner took on the many challenges involved in moving Kohl and succeeded.
“My success is built on my capacity to lure in wonderful people and get them on the team,” says Turner, speaking about her Board of Directors and the museums many other supporters.
The ultimate testament to Turner’s ability to attract the right people and instill in them her passion for children’s hands-on education is the beautiful Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview—an ongoing tribute to a passionate and dedicated leader.