Fundraising for Dr. Deborah Turner Legacy of Heroines scholarship continues

CATEGORIES: May 2024, Voices

Note: This article will be updated as pledges are received.

After one month of active outreach, more than the amount in pledges needed to establish an expendable fund account at Iowa State University for a Legacy of Heroines Scholarship named for Dr. Deborah Turner – a graduate of Iowa State who was elected national president of the League of Women Voters in 2020 and 2022 – has been raised.

As of May 24, $15,950 in pledges has been received by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. Once established, the Turner scholarship will be awarded as part of the center’s Legacy of Heroines program – which provides scholarships to Iowa State students who seek involvement in and knowledge about gender and politics, the political process, public service and women’s leadership.

Pledges to date have been received from Iowa State faculty, staff and alumni; the League of Women Voters of Iowa, from memorial funds it received to honor Turner; the League of Women Voters of Metro Des Moines; individual LWV members from Iowa and Nebraska; friends and past colleagues of Turner; and members of the Gamma chapter of Pi Beta Phi, Turner’s sorority while an undergraduate student at Iowa State in the 1970s.

“We are grateful to all those who have made a pledge toward establishing this scholarship in the past month,” said Dianne Bystrom, director emerita of the Catt Center who is leading the campaign. “We can now establish an account with the ISU Foundation where donors can contribute directly, and we look forward to awarding the first Dr. Deborah Turner Legacy of Heroines scholarship in the 2025-26 academic year.”

Those interested in supporting the scholarship honoring Dr. Turner can continue to send emails to the Catt Center at with their pledge amount. Once the expendable fund account has been established by the ISU Foundation, donors will be able to contribute funds directly to that account. “Beyond meeting our goal to establish the account, we will continue to encourage pledges and eventually cash donations to increase the funds available for this scholarship,” Bystrom said.

Turner died on Jan. 28, 2024, during her second term as national president of the League of Women Voters. She was scheduled to serve as the Spring 2024 Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics with a lecture set for Feb. 13.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State, Turner earned a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Drake University. She practiced gynecologic oncology for 35 years and recently served as associate medical director of Planned Parenthood of North Central States.

“Dr. Turner loved Iowa State University. She was married at the Alumni Center in August 2022 and the family held her visitation and celebration of life in the Memorial Union in February 2024,” Bystrom said. “In attending those events, I—and others—were inspired to create a scholarship in her honor at her alma mater and through a center named for the founder of the national League of Women Voters.”

In consultation with her family, Bystrom said the Turner scholarship will include preferences for an undergraduate student in the pre-medicine or pre-health professional track with a demonstrated financial need.