- In 1990 she received the first ever Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Leadership Award for her work in the field of mental retardation
- Served as Co-Director of the Beach Center on Families and Disability at the University Of Kansas
- Served on the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families
- Became National President of the American Association on Mental Retardation in 2003
Dr. Ann Turnbull has been a professor, teacher, researcher, and advocate for individuals with disabilities, their families, and service providers for more than 35 years. She first received her Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Georgia in 1986, specializing in mental retardation then went on to earn her Masters from Auburn University, then finally her doctorate from the University of Alabama in 1972.
From 1987 to 1988 Turnbull worked as a Kennedy Foundation Policy Fellow in the House of Representatives. Thenn 1988, she was the co-founder of the Beach Center on Disability which is a vital hub of national and international research and development on contemporary issues impacting the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families. In 1987, the National Down Syndrome Congress presented its National Research Award to the Beach Center.
Ann has been the Principal Investigator on over 25 federally funded research grants and has authored 33 books, including 2 leading textbooks in the field of special education. She has also authored over 250 articles and chapters. In 1999, she was selected as one of 36 individuals who "changed the course of history for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the 20th century."
Ann has provided leadership in national professional and family organizations, including being the President of the American Association on Intellectual Disabilities. She has received the University of Kansas’ highest awards for graduate education, as well as for research. She was selected in 1990 for the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy International Leadership Award, as well as for The Arc’s Distinguished Research Award in 2004. In addition to her professional credentials, she is the parent of three children, one of whom, Jay (1967-2009), was an adult son with multiple disabilities who had what Ann describes as an "enviable life" in terms of his inclusion; productivity; and contributions to his family, friends, and community.
Ann Turnbull is a pioneer in the profession in terms of merging, within the field of special education, academic knowledge from research and experiential knowledge from the perspective of the parent of a son with a significant disability