Palencia Turner, chief development officer at Idyllwild Arts Foundation. Photo courtesy of Palencia Turner
Palencia Turner, chief development officer at Idyllwild Arts Foundation.
Photo courtesy of Palencia Turner

Palencia Turner is the new Chief Development Officer at Idyllwild Arts Foundation. She begins July 13 and brings extensive fundraising experience to her new position.

Most recently, she was vice president of development at KCETlink, which includes the nation’s largest independent public television station serving Southern and Central California.

Development is not an easy profession. One has to learn to accept “No” frequently. Today, the competition for donors’ gifts is great.

“In this environment, there are many single issue non-profits,” she stated. But her skill is finding the people with the inclination to match wealth with an institution, where they see a return on investment.

“It’s hard but interesting. It’s never easy. Philanthropists are interested in more than spending or giving their money,” Turner stressed. “What do you give back to them?”

One difference between Idyllwild Arts and the corporate world will be the annual level of fundraising and the pressure associated with that. The KCETlink budget is about $27 to 28 million each year. All of that comes from donations — a tremendous responsibility that never stops. That business model lacked diverse income sources, which the school has from tuition.

A major campaign — to fund the Bowman Center — is completed. Turner will develop a plan to raise about $3 million annually as a start.

The next key event at Idyllwild Arts is the 70th Anniversary of the school, but Turner does not plan to begin the fundraising then, rather she wants some time to develop the plan.

Also she stressed that IA President Pam Jordan has only a year at the school. Also Mark Davis is just beginning his time as Director of Programs.

“We need time and space to figure things out as a team working together,” Turner said. “My suggestion is a campaign needs to be steady. To do it right and well, it needs to be thought out.”

Although Turner is a fifth generation Californian and a Beverly Hill High School graduate, she went to school in the east. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Howard University and her graduate degree at Georgetown. Her older sister is also a Howard alumna, but both have returned to their SoCal roots.

Not only did she travel across the continent for her education and began her career there, she admits that traveling is her hobby.

“It shows me things beyond my reach, opens my eyes and expands on my knowledge,” she said. “Traveling helps broaden strategies and creates more empathy for people around the world.”

Turner and her son, who starts college this fall, live in Pasadena and her main office will be in Los Angeles. But she acknowledges that she has to immerse herself in the Idyllwild Arts culture and environment of the school.