CoraLyn J. Turentine is a native of Canada who has been passionate about social justice since childhood. Her fire for service has mobilized her to leverage her leadership talents with a variety of organizations and faith-based ministries, such as Chosen Ministries, KidsPeace and WaterStep.
CoraLyn's efforts have had a global reach, positioning her provide leadership to organizations in Costa Rica, Haiti, Tanzania, India, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. As a result of her commitment to the nonprofit sector and to leadership excellence, CoraLyn was awarded the 2013 United Way Diversity Volunteer Award, the 2014 NAPW Woman of the Year award, and is a featured professional in the 2014 Women of Distinction Magazine.
After more than 10 years in the nonprofit sector, CoraLyn began offering strategic planning and leadership coaching services to nonprofit organizations and prospective nonprofit founders. CoraLyn serves as the Director of Neighborhood Engagement for John Boner Neighborhood Centers, stewarding the Near Eastside Quality of Life plan.
How long have you lived in Indy?
Why have you focused on using your skills in the nonprofit sector?
The long-term outcomes of the social change that I work for are difficult to quantify, and often aren’t in alignment with capitalist goals and outcomes. I needed to be in a sector that would never have to justify putting the mission before the bottom line. Sometimes the bottom line should come first, but I would prefer to be in a position where it makes sense that it would come second, even if it costs me.
How did you find your current position?
I’ve lived on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis since 2007, which is the John Boner Neighborhood Center’s service area. The president of NESCO (Near East Side Community Organization) shared the position opening on Nextdoor, a network in which I’m an active participant.
What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
In many ways, “nonprofit” is an umbrella term for a number of different types of organizations and efforts. Government organizations, for example, are nonprofit organizations. Foundations, which affect change by providing funding opportunities for other organizations, are also nonprofits, though they don’t necessarily participate in the direct implementation of a program or project. Lobbying and advocacy groups, many schools and medical/health facilities may also be considered nonprofits.
Many times we want to go into nonprofit work, because we want to bring about significant social change. Nonprofits aren’t the sole model for doing so. Many for-profit corporations have corporate giving programs that their staff members are deeply engaged in. There are also for-profit social enterprises that have a mission focused on social change/social justice, but use a for-profit model to mobilize that change.
Sometimes the best thing that we can do for a nonprofit or movement that we are passionate about, is ensure that it has the expertise and resources necessary to operate at their best. This can mean being a large donor to an organization, or serving on their Board of Directors. One may find that they are better able to mobilize the change they want to see by working in another industry that would allow them to secure the financial resources and professional networks that are critical to opening doors for non-profit entities.
Nonprofits are tools for social change, but they are not the only tools, and they are not always the best tools to get the job done well. Taking some time to evaluate your interests, talents, experiences and expertise can help you determine an appropriate professional path for living out those interests and talents.
If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
I would be fluent in each of the Romance languages, particularly French, Spanish and Portuguese.
If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?
Safe water. The servant in me likes the idea of being something that gives and restores life. It adapts to its environment. Sometimes it’s a gas that goes where it wants. Sometimes it’s a liquid that allows other objects to affect its shape and movement. Other times it’s a solid that affects the movement of everything and everyone else. It also has the ability to destroy, so I like the idea that it can be meek without compromising its power.
What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
My most genuine answer is one that I’m not ready to share. It’s too awesome of a dream! On a somewhat less serious note, there are places that I need to travel to, and things I need to see before I die, including:
1) Travelling to each of the countries whose mother-tongue is a language I’ve studied.
2) Backpacking through Europe.
3) Going to Australia and observing kangaroos and koalas in their natural habitat, and visiting the brilliant red dunes.
Share a little-known treasure of Indianapolis with us:
100 Acres at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It is the most tranquil place I know. All of the art is something that, as visitors, we engage with. The swing made out of a single giant tree, the jogging/biking trail along the White River … even the washroom facilities are both beautiful and something we interact with. It is a great place to be when you feel like existing outside of time.
Most important question: When they write a book about your life, what would the title be? And who would play you in the movie adaptation?
“An Ordinary Life”, but the cover would somehow indicate that the life was far from what anyone would consider to be “ordinary.” And Gabourey Sidibe. Definitely. She would be PERFECT. If the director decided to recreate my character as a man, then I would say Lenny Kravitz.
Want to support CoraLyn's work?
CoraLyn became a licensed foster parent at the age of 23 with KidsPeace – a therapeutic foster and adoption agency. As both a foster parent and a board member for the local Indianapolis office, CoraLyn understands the vast need for safe, compassionate and loving families to provide temporary care for Indiana’s transient children and youth. KidsPeace’s Family Support Specialists work collaboratively with Resource (foster) families to ensure that they are well supported while caring for youth, in a culture that values both the Resource family’s and child’s overall well-being. CoraLyn strongly encourages stable individual adults and families to learn more about giving back to the community as a Resource parent with KidsPeace, and is always happy to share her personal experiences (both good and bad) of caring for Indiana’s kiddos. Those interested in learning more about how Resource parents support the safety, and continued growth and development of children and youth can visit the KidsPeace Indianapolis website or call 317-253-1723.