CEO File: Stay Curious, Engaged and Passionate

August 19, 2011

Sharmain Matlock-Turner


Name: Sharmain Matlock-Turner.

Age: 61.
Title: President and CEO.

Company: Urban Affairs Coalition.

Description: The UAC develops programs, shares services and provides fiscal sponsorship to nonprofits.

Number of Employees: 400.

Budget in last fiscal 2011: $29 million.

Recent Project: Freedom Rings Partnership, a multi-year initiative to bring Internet access, computers and training to the underserved.

Education: Temple University bachelor’s degree in education.

First Job: Peach picker at age 12.

Little known fact: I learned to sew when I was 9. I made many of my own clothes. When I was 16 I designed a cocktail dress for my mother, just like the one she saw in the store.

Home: Mount Airy.


Essential business philosophy: It takes a team. In the nonprofit sector, doing more with less requires great teamwork.

Best way to keep a competitive edge: Stay curious, engaged and passionate about what you do.

Yardstick of success: Improving the lives of the people we serve.

Goal yet to be achieved: Expand the work of UAC regionally and nationally.


Best decision: Throwing my hat in the ring to compete for the UAC CEO job.

Worst decision: Hiring someone who turned out to be a poor fit.

Toughest decision: Telling people who have worked side-by-side with you that their jobs are being eliminated.

Mentor: I don’t have one person but several who advise and challenge me.


Word that best describes you: Coach. I love to see my “team” win.

Like best about your job: I work with talented individuals who love what they do and who teach me something new almost every day.

Like least about your job: Seeing people in need and not being able to help them.

Most important lesson learned: Growth and change are constant companions; they need to be understood and managed well.

Persons most interested in meeting: President Barack Obama to understand how he manages a work life balance and Oprah Winfrey to make a case for UAC funding.

First choice for a new career: Trash Czar of Philadelphia. I’d love to walk or drive around Philadelphia — especially our neighborhoods — and see them trash-free.


Award most proud of: I am looking forward to getting the “grandmother of the year award.”

Most influential book: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins; “Outliers” and “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell; “Death By Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni; “Practically Radical” by Bill Taylor and “Native Son” by Richard Wright.

Favorite movie: I really enjoy television mini-series. Right now I’m watching “Treme” and “The Killing.”

Favorite restaurant: Relish Restaurant in West Oak Lane.

Favorite vacation spot: Aruba and my own backyard.

Car you drive: Toyota Solara, convertible.

Read original article in the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Philadelphia Business Journal