[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"358","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"margin: 5px; width: 202px; height: 220px; float: left;"}}]]Dr. Mark Turner is the founder, president, and principal associate at Optimal Solutions Group, a non-partisan public policy research firm that provides rigorous analysis and technical assistance to government agencies and nonprofit organizations. After earning his Ph.D. in economics from UMD in 1996, Dr. Turner has continuously shared his time, talent and support with the BSOS community.

As a member of BSOS’s Board of Advisors, Dr. Turner provides Dean John Townshend and College leadership with the wisdom, experience and innovative spirit that he has gained during his remarkable career.

At Optimal, he leads a multi-disciplinary staff of more than 60 employees in designing and implementing research studies and providing technical assistance on a variety of policy relevant topics that span Optimal’s four research centers—education , workforce development, health, housing and economic development. Many of these projects are randomized field trials where Dr. Turner has managed recruitment, large-scale data collection, and technical working groups. He also oversees the design and implementation of large technical assistance projects, including the National Center on Service Obligations.

Prior to founding Optimal, Dr. Turner was a research scientist at the Institute for Policy Studies and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Johns Hopkins University. Previously, he was a research associate at the Urban Institute and prior to that worked for the Government Accountability Office. He has authored more than 20 reports and publications, several in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Turner and his wife, Tracye, generously established an endowed scholarship to support undergraduate economics students at the University of Maryland who have demonstrated service and leadership. Deserving students of this scholarship will be selected based on their commitment to improve society as a whole through the improvement of minority communities. The Turners’ dedication to the Department of Economics, as well as their affection for the university community, inspired them to create this merit scholarship award.

Dr. Turner also has connected with the student body by serving as the keynote commencement speaker for the Department of Economics in 2010, supporting and judging BSOS’s inaugural Be the Solution Business Plan Competition in 2012, hosting students at Optimal’s offices for tours and mentoring sessions, and serving as the keynote speaker at BSOS’s Student Awards Ceremony in 2013.