Karen Turner Marion
Founder and Executive Director
Karen is a California native who grew up in San Jose and then lived in San Diego for nearly 17 years, She moved to the Phoenix area with her husband, Steve and 2 year old son in February of 2005. It was an exciting time for her family but sadly, her husband died suddenly in August of 2007 of an aortic dissection when their son was just 4 1/2 years old.
After a brief time with the US Customs Service and US Internal Revenue Service, Karen spent 8 years as an Investigative Assistant with the US Secret Service. Deciding to follow a dream, she resigned from the US Secret Service and started Elegant Expressions, San Diego’s premier calligraphy and event planning studio which she owned for 9 years. For the last 13 years, she has worked as an Executive Assistant, supporting senior level executives at Leap Wireless/Cricket Communications and Banner Health. She is currently an Executive Assistant supporting the CEO of a nationally recognized Phoenix-based company.
In 2009, Karen was awarded a “Hope” award from Stepping Stones of Hope on behalf of her work and fundraising with the Steven M. Turner Memorial Scholarship Fund, named in honor of her late husband. The Scholarship Fund provides for families grieving the loss of a loved one to attend grief camp.
In the April 20, 2015 issue of Woman’s World magazine, Karen and Acts of Simple Kindness were featured. It was a true honor to get such wonderful national attention.
Being the Founder of Acts of Simple Kindness is among the proudest of her personal and professional accomplishments. Widowed at 38 years old, she knows first-hand the trials and tribulations of not only widowhood but being a single parent to a child grieving the loss of a parent.
In November of 2014, Karen married Dennis Marion, a wonderful man she’d met a few years before. Their blended family of 5 includes his two sons from a previous marriage, Casey and Matthew. He is a wonderful father figure to Allen and his “Dad on earth” while always remembering and honoring Steve, his Daddy in Heaven.
Laurie was born and raised in San Diego, California and married her high school sweetheart in 1986. Their one and only daughter, Katie was born in 1992. Laurie worked in a variety of office settings, from talent agent to law firm, until 1994 when she decided she was tired of paying someone else to raise her daughter and decided to become a stay-at-home Mom. A few years ago, she returned to working in the “outside world” and is currently in Admin Services for Qualcomm, Inc. in San Diego.
She is fortunate to still have her husband with her, but she has seen the harrowing effects of the loss of a parent and a spouse on a family. While it’s not first-hand knowledge, she has seen how grief, fear and mind-numbing exhaustion threaten to take over the lives of those who find themselves suddenly alone. She is looking forward to helping Acts of Simple Kindness lighten the load for parents and keep kids involved with the things they love, that help them heal and make life seem just a little bit more like “normal.”
Sadly, Laurie lost her beloved father after a short illness in May of 2012 and her mother in June of 2014, bringing her even closer to appreciating the mission of Acts of Simple Kindness. It’s hard to lose your parent, regardless of how old you are.
Suzanne Rawlings is honored to serve on the Board of ASK. Having been widowed when her daughters were 5 and 1 1/2 years old, she has lived with the difficulty of raising children on her own without the resources to provide the lessons and activities to make life “normal” for her children. After their father passed away from lung cancer, the support of her family got them through in spite of the many challenges. Two brothers joined their family, and it has been a wonderful joy parenting these amazing four young people – Suzanne feels very blessed!
A few years ago, Suzanne was encouraged by her friend Laurie Hinckley to apply for a grant from ASK to help her youngest daughter attend a unique college level program in Ireland. She was in High School and crowd-funding through a dedicated website, but could not get the final money required to participate. ASK provided the remaining funds, and her daughter was able to pursue her dream of learning Gaelic and Irish history through this program.
When ASK was seeking an addition to the Board, Suzanne was very pleased to be considered. Now a Board Member for over a year, she has had the further honor of assisting this past year with Evening of Hope and Pins of Hope. Helping other children participate in normal activities after the death of a parent is crucial, as she knows too well and she is grateful to ASK for the assistance given to her daughter.
Rose lives in Mesa, Arizona with her husband Tim and is staff to three cats. She is the hugest fan girl when it comes to Marvel, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Rose was born in New Jersey, but calls Boston her hometown. She loves going to the movies, laughing out loud, rooting for the Red Sox, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Rose is an active member of several professional organizations including Toastmasters International. From July 2011 to July 2012, she was the District Director for Toastmasters International chapters throughout the State of Arizona. Rose and her team of over 150 volunteers were responsible for a 5% growth in membership and chapters.
In 2013, Rose was appointed by the Toastmasters International President and Board of Directors to serve as a Region Adviser for leaders in Southern California, Arizona, and Mexico. Rose’s role was to provide critical training, strategic planning, and coaching to these leaders. After her 16 month term, 6 of the 7 districts had achieved their goals. Rose continues to mentor leaders all over the world and attends her Toastmasters chapters regularly. In 2015, Rose was appointed to the Board. Rose brings her knowledge of fundraising, graphic design, and marketing to the organization. Rose has a BS in Marketing and MA in Management from the University of Phoenix. She also studied at Emerson College in Theater Education and Performance Art.
** Credit for photographs of Laurie Hinckley, Suzanne Rawlings and Rose Swearingen to Tim Swearingen with PixAZ Photography. http://pixaz.weebly.com/