Outreach Inc., a Des Moines-based international relief organization, announced it has hired Dr. Deborah Ann Turner as its vice president of international programs. Turner, a gynecologist/oncologist at Mercy Cancer Center, has been involved with the nonprofit and its work in Tanzania as a volunteer for several years.

Dr. Deborah Ann Turner


"I am impressed with the vision and impact of Outreach founders Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton," Turner said in a press release. "The scope of Outreach's achievement in Africa is astonishing; we are poised to expand the reach and create greater impact in the lives of some of the most impoverished people in the world through collaborative partnerships with the people of Tanzania and other regions."


Turner said she plans to divide her time equally between her current position at Mercy and her new role through June 30, and then move to full-time with Outreach on July 1. 


In her new position, Turner will provide leadership for international programs including Medical Missions, Outreach Children's Centers, the 8,000-acre Shallom Farm and the Kid's Care Child Sponsorship Program.


Outreach was founded in 2004 by Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, who started the organization after returning from Tanzania on a construction mission. During that journey, they experienced the death of many children from starvation and hunger-related diseases.


The organization currently provides midday meals each school day as well as school uniforms for nearly 1,000 street children in the cities of Singida and Manyoni in Tanzania. It has taken more than 1,200 medical professionals and staff on medical mission trips to the East Africa country, and is developing the Shallom Farm, a research-based demonstration farm that will serve as a nucleus farm to provide agricultural training and business opportunities.


A native of Mason City, Turner was inducted in 2013 into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. She was the first African-American woman to integrate a sorority at Iowa State University, be certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the specialty of gynecologic/oncology and be hired as a gynecological oncologist at the University of Nebraska, University of Iowa and Medical College of Wisconsin. She is a graduate of Iowa State University, University of Iowa Medical College and Drake University Law School.


She serves currently as vice president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa and president of the Metropolitan Des Moines League of Women Voters. She also serves on the boards of the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center and the Iowa Care for Yourself Program.