Toilynn O'Neal Turner

Title:  Founding Director of Robert O'Neal Multicultural Art Center (ROMAC) and Executive Director of Queen City Foundation

Current / Past Place of Employment:  Current ROMAC and Queen City Foundation 

Where are you originally from? Cincinnati, Ohio

Age: 49

Toilynn O'Neal Turner holds many hats in the cultural, educational, and artistic communities. She is a talented artist, businesswoman, and cultural activist who passionately promotes diversity through the arts and education, connecting local artists, businesses, and cultural institutions. She has 25+ years of experience working in audience development, the arts, diversity, and community engagement in nonprofit organizations. Mrs. Turner served as Visual Arts and Museum Director for the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati for over 11 years and also installed and changed exhibits at the Art Consortium's African American Museum site that housed a permanent Cincinnati Black history collection, "Bein' around Natti Town." This effort brought life to the space and made it one of the most highly sought-after venues for national and international artists to showcase their work. In 2006 Mrs. Turner formally established her company New American Art Gallery II, to offer a venue and exposure for regional artists. New American Art Gallery II has spearheaded many cultural programs in the Greater Cincinnati area, from festivals on Fountain Square to promoting regional multicultural artists and exhibitions to schools and corporations. Toilynn acted as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Art For Life initiative at the Cincinnati Art Museum for five years. She introduced over 10,000+ people to the diversity of the museum's world-class collections, educational resources, and programming. For 21 years, she served as the Director of Diversity at her alma mater, Saint Ursula Academy, impacting the lives of young women to be better leaders, thinkers, nurturers, and prophets. 
 
Toilynn is currently the Founding Director of the Robert O'Neal Multicultural Art Center (ROMAC) and the Executive Director of Queen City Foundation (QCF). The ROMAC is a nonprofit organization based in Cincinnati's West End neighborhood dedicated to celebrating, advancing, and preserving African American culture and achievement through arts, history, and education while uplifting the rich diversity of artists and cultures of Greater Cincinnati. At QCF, Toilynn actively seeks talented minority students and informs them about educational opportunities. For over 50 years, QCF has assisted 400+ minority students with enrollment to local and national independent schools, assisted with test prep and student leadership initiatives.  


What are your personal core values? My core values are family, creativity, honesty, equity, and community.  

In what ways are you involved in the Cincinnati community outside of your professional endeavors? I have had the honor of serving on the following board: Nrityarpana School of Performing Arts (NSPA), Afrikan American Drum and Dance Ensemble, Walnut Hills Area Council, Cincinnati Preschool Promise, the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Arts Association, Clifton Cultural Art Center, and Invest in Neighborhoods. I love the work in the art community that I have been part of with the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, Eye of the Artist Foundation, Black Arts Speaks, Cincinnati Art Museum, Qkidz, Cincinnati Music Accelerator, and ArtsWave. For over 20 years, I have mentored youth and college students to pursue their academic and career goals. 

Looking at your professional career, outside of family and friends, where have you garnered your support?  The adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is an absolute truth for me. My parent allowed many people to make a positive impact in my life. I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of leaders, educators, organizations, and activists that sowed into me and were crucial in my overall development. My network of supporters spans from both my personal and professional contacts. My "career village" comprises former colleagues, mentors, and professional membership organizations that challenge and encourage me to achieve my goals. 

What legacy do you hope to leave behind? I see my legacy is to inspire generations to use the arts and history to uplift, bridge communication, tell our stories and connect through creativity.  
 
How do you define success? Success is pride in what I'm doing, working for what I aspire to be, and accepting where I need to grow. I have learned that I can not measure my success based on others' standards and systems. Success should be defined differently for each of us based on our passions and dreams. In today's society, people always compare each other's success, but the goals you set for yourself can only be achieved through your hard work and perseverance. I have to be proud of what I do. I am grateful when I achieve success or fail because now I know that I am one step closer to conquering my overall goal. We all want to be successful, and everyone is more than capable of achieving it. Ultimately, you alone define success, which gives you your sense of purpose and motivation to conquer the obstacles ahead. 

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader? Every day I continue to listen to experienced individuals, keep learning new things and surround myself with motivated and progressive people.   


What piece of advice have you received along the way in your career or life journey that has stuck with you? I attended a workshop a few years ago, and the presenter said, "When you feel overwhelmed, remember to pause, breathe and reflect." We get caught up on timelines, stress, and deadlines in our fast-paced society. We give our body and mind a chance to recharge to keep moving and working by pausing. Breathing brings us energy and helps us relax. When you stop to reflect on what you have done or plan to do, it can help you develop your skills and review your impact. This advice has helped me manage obstacles and recharge. 

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