Springfield, MO

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2017 Dynamic Dozen Employee of the Year: Kelly Turner

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Kelly Turner stepped into his role as director of transit at City Utilities of Springfield under the most challenging circumstances. His opportunity to serve in his current capacity came following the sudden death of his predecessor, mentor and friend, Kevin Lowe.

Turner was not employed with City Utilities at the time of Lowe’s passing, but still working with Olsson Associates Inc. where Lowe also had worked and hired Turner eight years earlier.

“As a boss and eventually a great friend, Kevin was an incredibly impactful mentor to me,” Turner says. “Watching Kevin’s enthusiasm for people, both employees and customers, helped me develop my approach as a servant leader.

“Kevin also set a tremendous example in work ethic and effort, while still never taking himself too seriously. I have tried to emulate these characteristics in my life.”

In the two short years since accepting the challenge to lead, Turner has mounted an impressive list of accomplishments. CU Transit improved its annual safety goals by more than 50 percent by reducing the number of preventable vehicle accidents to seven in 2016, down from 16 a year earlier, through a program of regular communication, training and encouragement.

On May 6, 2016, CU held a dedication and grand opening of its new $4.4 million transit center in downtown Springfield, a project which earned CU the Developer of the Year Award from Springfield Contractors Association and Ozarks Institute of Transportation Engineers’ 2016 Transportation Achievement Award.

“This day was the culmination of many years of hard work by many individuals, and was a day of great celebration for our employees, our customers and our community,” Turner says.

Using his previous experience in project proposal preparation, Turner recently developed a successful grant application through the Federal Transit Authority to be used for the replacement of aging buses.

With only $211 million in grant funding available and over $1.6 billion in requests nationally, Turner and his staff were thrilled to be awarded the full amount of their grant request.

“This will allow CU to replace a significant portion of our aging fleet in a way that is responsible and affordable to our customers, and positions us to effectively manage our fleet replacement going forward,” Turner says.

Pointing his attention to the larger community, Turner served on the transportation task force, a spin-off of the Impacting Poverty Commission through the Community Partnership of the Ozarks. This allowed CU to help develop solutions for improving transportation options in under-resourced and impoverished areas of town.

Further, Turner was named to the 2017 executive committee of the board for the Missouri Public Transit Association, representing and advocating for the many public transit associations across the state. In his role, Turner helps establish legislative priorities for the state’s transit providers, including advocating for the selection of Springfield as the location for the MPTA 2017 Annual Conference.


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