Debra Turner-Emerson - Kelly Mellos

Debra Turner-Emerson: MBA, Executive Director, St. Madeleine Sophie's Center

Since 1995, Debra Turner Emerson has served as Executive Director of St. Madeleine Sophie's Center (SMSC), a day training program for 308 adults with developmental disabilities. By tapping into her knowledge of the arts and lifelong passion for creating her own artwork, in 1999 she expanded SMSC's fledgling art program by opening Sophie's Art Gallery that now serves 100 SMSC students who learn a variety of media; access their creativity; and earn income. It also offers public art classes; local, regional and national exhibitions of student work; on-site gift shop; and satellite gift shop (Sophie's Too on SMSC's main campus).

What is your vision of the future of the Visual arts for San Diego?

"I would establish more collaborations similar to those promoted by SMSC/Sophie's Gallery, i.e. partnerships with other arts organizations; and via public art and Alley Cat Art Walk that strengthen community revitalization. By working together, we expand opportunities for all and enhance our sense of wonder at the power of art."