Telling the ATEC Story The People Behind Test & Evaluation: Dr. Michelle Turner

By ATEC G 3-5December 19, 2022

Dr. Michelle "Doc" Pacheco Turner, a native of the Dominican Republic, or DR, learned the value of service before self at an early age. Her mother, a family law, mediation, and immigration attorney, worked tirelessly to help others in need. Her mother's sense of duty, integrity, and honor instilled in Turner a fierce sense of pride and a determination to carry on her mother's legacy of serving and advocating for the underrepresented.

Turner comes from a long, distinguished line of public servants. Her father, a family medicine doctor, served in the Dominican Air Force for 10 years and 20 years in the DR's federal government. Her grandfathers and an uncle were two-star generals in the Dominican Air Force.

Turner immigrated to the United States with her family—her mom and dad and two younger siblings—when she was seven. They settled in the Bronx in New York City and relocated to Hollywood, Florida when she was 12. After graduating from Miramar High School, Turner joined the Army as a noncommissioned officer. She served six years before being medically discharged.

From November 2021 to November 2022, Turner was the conflict resolution and affirmative employment program manager at the United States Army Test and Evaluation Command, or ATEC, Headquarters at Aberdeen Proving Ground, or APG, in Maryland. She came to ATEC with extensive experience working with programs that promote equal employment opportunities and a solid conflict and resolution management background. In addition, Turner has diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace certifications and is a certified civility training facilitator. She is also a lean six sigma green belt and a master resilience trainer.

Turner is passionate about putting people first and being an empathetic leader who focuses on identifying with others, understanding their perspectives, and reacting with compassion. Although Turner would tell you her career chose her, she didn't choose it, she is no stranger to discrimination and says she experienced it firsthand in the military. At the time, she didn't fully understand the laws or her rights, but she understood the negative impact it had on her and how powerless it made her feel. Turner didn't want anyone else to go through a similar situation and feel defenseless and unprotected. She became a subject matter expert in employment and workplace discrimination to ensure they didn't.

Turner applied for the Department of the Army's CP-28 (Equal Employment Opportunity, or EEO) Pathways Program over a decade ago. The Pathways Program was designed to streamline the recruiting and hiring process. It provides qualified students and recent graduates with training, mentoring, and career opportunities to create clear paths to internships and full-time employment.

Out of the 3,000 applicants who applied, 300 were referred, and only 10 were selected. Turner was one of the 10.

Army EEO specialists are trained to deliver programs to maximize the readiness potential of every Soldier, Civilian, and Family member. EEO specialists are charged with creating a work environment that's free from unlawful discrimination and other prohibited behaviors and promoting the values of diversity and inclusion.

Turner managed ATEC's affirmative employment and complaints programs to ensure statutory laws were followed and enforced. She took a holistic approach to ensure the command had the right policies, procedures, and training in place to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment. Turner also conducted barrier analyses to identify if there were any existing barriers to equal employment opportunities. Even though her time at ATEC was relatively short, Turner says she's proud of helping to rebuild the trust lost within the ATEC workforce while she was there.

Turner, a self-proscribed life-long learner and student has a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and business management and a Master of Business Administration in business, management, and marketing from Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia.

Of all her accomplishments, Turner says she's most proud of earning a Ph.D. in organizational management and behavior in 2016 from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Since 2018, Turner has been an adjunct professor at the Harford Community College in Harford County, Maryland. She teaches online and in-person classes in business ethics during the spring and fall semesters. She has taught for over 10 years in elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges, and universities. For Turner, teaching is an opportunity to give back to the community and help cultivate the young minds of tomorrow while teaching them about the rewards of pursuing careers in public and federal service.

Turner is a member of several Hispanic affinity groups. She serves as an executive board member and assistant secretary to the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers. She's also a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Senior Executive and African American Federal Executive Associations, and the Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority.

Turner's career trek is far from over; she says there's still plenty of tread left on her wheels. Her long-term career goal is to be selected for the senior executive service. However, several short-term goals still have to be accomplished first. As she continues her professional and upward mobility, Turner never forgets the people who paved the way ahead for her. In honoring and fulfilling her mother's legacy, she is forever mindful of sending the elevator back down to pay it forward.