Allison Harvey Turner, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

TITLE: Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Environment, water conservation, sustainable water management, land conservation in California

CONTACT: aturner@sdbjrfoundation.org, (415) 284-8675

IP TAKE: Turner is completely devoted to land and water management in California. Environmental support accounts one of S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation's two grantmaking priorities, so definitely get familiar with Turner if you're an environmentalist in California.

PROFILE: In the summer of 2013, the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation (not to be confused with the separate entity, the Bechtel Group Foundation) restructured its grantmaking program to focus exclusively on education and the environment. Allison Harvey Turner is the woman leading the foundation's environment program, which is all about management, stewardship, and conservation of California's water and land resources. (Read S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation: Bay Area Grants).

Turner has been with the foundation since 2003 after earning a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of California in Los Angeles. She was first put in charge of Bechtel's water and migratory bird strategy. However, birds aren't a large part of Bechtel's giving strategy these days. So Turner was promoted to the role of Program Director for the foundation's entire environmental program.

On the environmental program team, Turner leads her experienced staff to find programs that are well-researched, grounded in best practice, and enabled by sound policy to support California's water supply cities, farms, and ecosystems. Water is half of her job and land is the other half. Bechetel's land focus is pretty broad and encompasses all programs that use landscapes to benefit both humans and nature.

Turner stays active in the environmental sustainability community by serving as an advisor to the California Conservation Fund, a nonprofit corporation that aims to preserve, conserve, and managed wetland and upland areas in the state. Along with other professionals in business, law, and philanthropy, she is also on the advisory board for Sustainable Conservation. This organization specializes in forming business partnerships and private sector leaders to ensure sustainable practices are beneficial for both nature and business.

Over the years, Turner has been actively involved in collaborations with other area foundations that are working together to improve California's environment. She recently joined dozens of other experts in the field to participate in a roundtable conference for the Delta Vision Foundation. She also worked with leaders at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pieces Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund, and Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority to produce a publication, “Managing California's Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation,” with the Public Policy Institute of California.

Turner is currently a program committee member with the Environmental Grantmakers Association, and she regularly attends workshops on California water data and conservation efforts. Most recently, she joined several other foundation leaders to serve on the EGA 2013 Federal Policy Briefing Program Committee.

One important thing to note about Bechtel is that the foundation has announced that it will invest all its assets by 2020, in a spend down strategy committed to “identifying lasting solutions for education and the environment sooner, rather than later." So while grantmaking has been on a steady climb in recent years, opportunities will be winding down, and it's tough these days to get on board. The foundation is no longer accepting unsolicited letters of inquiry, discouraging LOIs and only accepting and reviewing proposals on an invite-only basis.  

As a grantseeker, you'll need stay tuned and check the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation website for ongoing updates on the foundation's totally revamped strategy and future developments leading up to 2020.