United Way Donor Profile: Barbara Turner – Providing Unwavering Support

United Way's board chair never forgot getting "a hand up" when she needed it most.
April 3, 2023
Tocqueville Society Member and UWGC Board Chair Barbara Turner
United Way Board Chair Barbara Turner

CINCINNATI (April 12, 2023) – On her way to becoming a trailblazing leader in the financial services industry, Barbara Turner never lost sight of her larger purpose: to help the community and its people thrive.

In 2020, having risen through the ranks of Ohio National Financial Services, she became its 11th president and CEO, the first woman and person of color to lead the company. She stepped down after successfully leading Ohio National through its $1 billion acquisition by Constellation Insurance, a deal completed in March 2022.

Her achievements as a businesswoman are all the more impressive given her humble beginnings.

The third youngest of nine children – all but one were girls – Barbara was mostly raised by her older sisters while her parents worked multiple jobs. By age 11, Barbara was cooking and shopping and helping to care for her younger siblings and nieces and nephew.

At age 24 and with a divorce looming, Barbara faced the challenge of raising her three children, all age 5 and under, as a single parent. Still fresh were her memories of growing up in a family that sometimes relied on food stamps and qualified for the schools'  free lunch program – and the shame and stigma associated with that.

"I didn't have aspirations of someday wanting to run a company or making a certain amount of money," she said. "Back then, success for me was being able to pay bills, put food on the table and provide my children with what they needed to have a decent life."

She followed the advice of her older sisters and avoided the welfare system. Instead, she maintained her financial independence with help from United Way partners, including YWCA and Women Helping Women.

The assistance she received "wasn't a handout, it was really a hand up," she said. "It was support to help me be my best self. It included education, such as financial literacy, budgeting, planning and resume building." When she needed help finding child care, she turned to another United Way partner, 4C for Children.

Since then, she has been unwavering in her support for United Way and the community it serves.

"I always gave what I could, and when I was at a place where I could afford to, I became a leadership giver," said Barbara, a Tocqueville Society member who lives in Liberty Township with her husband, Daman. "I have always looked to increase what I gave because I believe in United Way, its mission and its impact in our community."

Barbara's impact extends beyond giving. "It's easy to write a check," she said. "But if you really believe in the mission, (you should) devote your time and talent."

And she has. Her involvement has included running corporate campaigns on behalf of United Way, serving on its investment committee, taking on special projects and chairing its board, the position she now holds. She also serves on the boards of The Christ Hospital, the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and Visit Cincy.

"Everything I've done from a board perspective is aligned with my passion for helping families and communities – helping women and children achieve financial security and not just survive, but really thrive."

She wants women and minorities in the male-dominated financial services industry to have opportunities to thrive, too. So, while at Ohio National, she started the Ohio National Women's Network; she developed the company's diversity, equity and inclusion strategy; and she started networks for female and minority financial advisers.

She wanted their experience to be different from hers. While climbing the corporate ladder, Barbara rarely found colleagues willing to mentor her.

She could, however, rely on a support network when she was growing up in a house full of siblings.

"My older sisters always poured so much love into me. They mentored me in a way that was important for my character and values, which ultimately shaped how I showed up as a leader."

As a leader, she's guided by her faith.

"I feel as a Christian it is incumbent on me to do everything I can to make life better for as many people as possible. I've never worked just for me and for financial success. It's always been for my children and grandchildren and my extended family and my community."


"I read three or four books a week. I just finished Michelle Obama's latest – 'The Light We Carry' – and it was outstanding."

The Tocqueville Experience


Tocqueville members enjoy meeting other philanthropic leaders at signature events such as cocktail receptions, luncheons and educational forums.

Each exclusive event is designed to give members an engaging, up-close look at how your investment is changing lives.

The Tocqueville Society

Tocqueville members are a generous group of successful, philanthropic leaders who support United Way and our community at an outstanding level.

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