Okanagan College names Honorary Fellow for 2024 – Shelagh Turner, former CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna

By College Relations | June 13, 2024

Head shot of Shelagh Turner, named the OC honorary fellow for the 2024 Convocation ceremony.
Shelagh Turner

Okanagan College is recognizing a well-known and respected community leader at its graduation celebrations this week, for her role in transforming mental health services locally and positively impacting the lives of thousands of others through the region.

Shelagh Turner, the former CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna, is receiving OC’s highest award, that of Honorary Fellow, at the College’s afternoon convocation and commencement on June 15.

“When we look at how the CMHA grew both in terms of services and its impact during the years that Shelagh Turner was at the helm, it’s nothing short of remarkable,” said Dr. Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College. “She has demonstrated true leadership and vision by bringing people together, building collaborative and innovative approaches to complex issues, and refusing to give up. Her achievements inspire all of us and we’re so proud to be recognizing Shelagh as an Honorary Fellow and esteemed member of our College community.”

Turner led CMHA Kelowna from 2005 until her retirement in 2022. Under her tenure, CMHA expanded its services to include operating over 300 supportive housing units, as well as resources designed to reduce and ultimately prevent homelessness.

Foundry Kelowna launched in 2017 while Turner was CEO and has served thousands of local youth and families needing mental health and substance use care, peer and social supports. This was a collaborative effort, from fundraising with KGH Foundation to working with other organizations and leaders in the community.  Foundry Kelowna’s mobile Wellness on Wheels service has increased access even more locally, through its rotating presence in West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Lake Country.

“It’s an incredible and unexpected honour to receive this distinction from Okanagan College.  To me, it’s a privilege to do something you genuinely love, to be able to work with an amazing team of skilled people, and do something together that makes a meaningful impact”, said Turner. “I started out in the social sector almost 40 years ago because I needed a job.  What I found was a career that was fulfilling beyond my wildest dreams.”  

A career advocate for workplace mental health, Turner focused her organization on supporting employers to learn about how to foster psychological safety and well-being, through annual awards, workshops and training.  In 2016, she received the BC Achievement Community Award, recognizing her outstanding contributions and service to the province.

BackgroundOkanagan College Honorary Fellow award

Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow and Distinguished Service awards to deserving individuals as part of its annual Convocation ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. A list of recipients can be found below.

The criteria for the Honorary Fellow award are mentorship, excellence, eminence and accomplishment.
Convocation and commencement at Okanagan College
Family and friends of graduates, alumni and media are invited to attend graduation ceremonies this week. The Honorary Fellow award will be presented at the June 15, 1:30 p.m. ceremony (Arts and Business programs) at the Kelowna campus. 

Tags: Convocation



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