October 30, 2020

Mass Life Sciences Center Selects Kenneth Turner as New President and CEO

Seasoned executive brings blend of public, private, military experience to MLSC
Key professional focus areas include programmatic improvements to diversity commitments

Today, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s Board of Directors voted to extend an offer to Kenneth Turner to serve as the Center’s new and permanent President and Chief Executive Officer.  Details of the offer, while still pending, are expected to be finalized by the beginning of next week.

Turner is an executive-level leader holding parallel public sector, industry and military officer careers, and comes to MLSC with a keen expertise in leading highly complex, matrix-driven operations in public- and private-sector organizations.

“The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center has been fundamental to the Commonwealth’s position as a leader in key sectors, especially those that have been vital to combating the pandemic,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “I want to congratulate Kenneth Turner for being offered the opportunity to lead this organization at such a critical time and I look forward to Mass Life Sciences continuing to play a significant role under his leadership.” 

“Kenn Turner has the background, leadership, and depth of experience that Mass Life Sciences needs to continue building upon its successful track record,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  “We look forward to him joining the Mass Life Sciences team and strengthening Massachusetts’ role as a global leader in research and development, innovation, and in job creation.” 

Turner’s decades-long career includes nearly 10 years in public service most recently at the Massachusetts Port Authority, where he currently serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion.  While at Massport, Turner’s role has included providing executive leadership on a number of the authority’s diversity initiatives, among which are increasing business and supplier diversity and workforce diversity. 

In addition, Turner also oversaw all compliance initiatives associated with Massport’s Disadvantaged/Minority/Women Business Enterprise programs.  Turner joined Massport from the Department of Veterans’ Services, where he served as Deputy Secretary for Administration and Finance for close to three years.  Prior to entering state service, Turner served for five years as Senior Vice President for AOL Time Warner’s Audience Division, which was preceded by five years as Senior Director of Trade Marketing for Hasbro, Inc.

“I want to thank the search committee for their diligence in finding a leader with the professional experience and skillsets necessary to lead Mass Life Sciences at such an important time,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as Co-Chair of the MLSC Board of Directors.  “I look forward to Kenneth Turner joining the team in the coming days as we continue to build upon the progress we’ve made in the life sciences industries while we also maintaining our collective efforts to combat COVID-19.” 

“Kenneth Turner will bring an impressive record of leadership, skills, and management experience to the Massachusetts Life Science Center during this crucial period,” said Secretary for Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan, who serves as Co-Chair of the MLSC Board of Directors. “I congratulate Kenn on his selection by the search committee and look forward to his leadership as we work alongside his team to advance the Commonwealth’s role as a global leader in the life sciences.”

Following the January departure of Travis McCready, who led the Life Sciences Center for more than four years, and with support from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), the Center conducted a robust search for a permanent president and chief executive officer. A search committee composed of members of the Center’s Board of Directors and chaired by EOHED’s Undersecretary for Business Growth, Mark D. Fuller, led this process. During the intervening months, former EOHED Deputy Secretary Timothy J. McGourthy and Damon Cox, Assistant Secretary for Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at EOHED, each served as Interim President and CEO.

Turner joins the Life Sciences Center at an exciting time with an active number of new and ongoing program initiatives related to the Center’s capital funding and efforts focused on continued support of the entrepreneurial community across the Commonwealth. More recently, the Administration announced the $3.6 million Accelerating Coronavirus Testing Solutions program, to develop rapid, innovative ‘at-home’ or point-of-care testing methods and mitigate current supply chain barriers. The MLSC also announced a new set of awardees through its Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative and STEM equipment and professional development program.

“As we navigate this critical juncture in our fight against the pandemic, Kenn Turner will ensure the Center maintains its status as a global leader in life sciences while also ensuring MLSC stays on the cutting edge of new and innovative developments,” said Mark D. Fuller, Housing and Economic Development’s Undersecretary for Business Growth.  “While we understand this is a challenging role, Kenn has the breadth of experience and the dynamic skills required to succeed.”

“At a time when more than 90 Massachusetts companies are developing new tests, therapies, and vaccines for COVID-19 and the life sciences industry is growing faster than ever, the Massachusetts Life Science Center’s role as a catalyst for workforce development, biomanufacturing, diversity and inclusion, and economic expansion is critical to our state’s continued worldwide leadership,” said Robert K. Coughlin, President and CEO of MassBio. “Kenn Turner is an amazing choice for this role and I look forward to partnering with him to continue Massachusetts’ and industry’s long-standing and successful collaboration.”

A Veteran, Turner served for 26 years in the United States Navy, where he achieved the rank of Captain, a position he held for close to 20 years.  His tenure in the Navy consist of 20 years in the Navy Reserves and six years on active duty where he served as a Submarine Nuclear Weapons Officer.