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Drake Law alumna honored with Gertrude E. Rush award

April 29, 2015
Dr. Deborah Turner, LW'07

Dr. Deborah Ann Turner of Des Moines, VP of International Programs for Outreach, Inc., and a 2007 graduate of Drake University Law School, was awarded the Gertrude E. Rush Award by the National Bar Association at a gala in St. Louis on March 28.

The award is a celebration of Gertrude Elzora Durden Rush (Aug. 5, 1880-Sept. 5, 1962), the first African-American female lawyer in Iowa who was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1918 and also helped found the National Bar Association in 1925.

“It was an honor to be awarded the Gertrude E. Rush Award by the National Bar Association. Courageous pioneers like Gertrude were an inspiration to me all through my career in medicine and then when I decided to go to Law School," said Dr. Turner. "Mrs. Rush embodies the qualities and virtues of the courage needed for all females to excel in their professional and personal life. It is humbling, yet exciting, to carry on the legacy left by such an influential force of history.”

Outreach founder Floyd Hammer said, “We are excited for Dr. Turner to win this prestigious award. We recently returned from Tanzania, East Africa on an Outreach Medical Mission lead by Dr. Turner and, once again, were able to watch her in action providing much needed help to some of the poorest people on earth. We have seen Dr. Turner win numerous awards, yet are amazed to watch her continued humility as her passion to provide medical care supersedes all that she does.”

Dr. Turner, a gynecologic/oncologist and surgeon from Mason City, Iowa, was inducted in 2013 into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Turner 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 currently serves 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 Iowa Care for Yourself Program IDPH.

Dr. Turner served on the State of Iowa Board of Regents (1999-2004) and was its president pro-tempore. Her awards include: Outstanding Educator & Mentor, National Medical Student Association, University of Iowa College of Medicine (1990); the Committee on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) Educator of the Year award from the Medical College of Wisconsin (1993); and Teacher of the Year Nominee from Mercy Health Center-North Iowa, Family Medicine residency Program (1999-2000).

The National Bar Association archives are currently located at Drake University Law School. The collection commemorates the pioneering civil rights work of Rush, Charles Howard, a 1920 graduate of Drake Law School, and 10 other lawyers who co-founded the NBA in 1925 in Des Moines.

The NBA was established because the American Bar Association did not accept African-American lawyers as members at that time. Today, the NBA network encompasses more than 40,000 African-American judges, lawyers, educators, and law students.