Founder and Chair of the UN Foundation Board of Directors; Chairman, Turner Enterprises
Throughout his career, Ted Turner has won recognition for his entrepreneurial acumen, sharp business skills, vision that transformed television, leadership qualities that won sports championships, and unprecedented philanthropy.
Turner began his career as an account executive with Turner Advertising Company and entered the television business in 1970 when he acquired Atlanta independent station channel 17. In 1976, Turner purchased Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves and launched TBS Superstation, originating the “Superstation” concept. The following year, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. acquired the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks, and in 1980, Turner launched CNN, the world’s first live, 24-hour global news network.
Turner has also made his mark as one of the most influential philanthropists in the U.S.
He is the Chair of the Turner Foundation, Inc., founded in 1990, which supports efforts to grow and diversify the movement to conserve land to protect and restore wildlife and biodiversity, catalyze the transition to a clean energy future, and protect and restore water resources. The Turner Endangered Species Fund is a core grantee of the Turner Foundation, which works to conserve biodiversity by emphasizing restoration efforts of endangered or imperiled species on the Turner properties.
In September 1997, Turner announced his historic pledge of up to $1 billion to United Nations causes through the creation of the United Nations Foundation (UNF). The organization supports the goals and objectives of the United Nations to promote a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. UNF has identified four core priorities: women and population; children’s health; the environment; and peace and security.
In early 2001, Turner launched the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a foundation he co-chairs with former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. NTI is working to close the growing and increasingly dangerous gap between the threat from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the global response.
Turner later created two independent film production companies, Ted Turner Pictures and Ted Turner Documentaries, which produced the major motion picture Gods and Generals and the critically acclaimed PBS documentary Avoiding Armageddon, respectively.
In January 2002, Turner opened the first Ted’s Montana Grill in Columbus, Ohio, with his business partner, George W. McKerrow Jr., founder of the Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant chain. Inspired by Turner’s love for the American West, Ted’s Montana Grill’s eco-friendly restaurants offer time-honored American classics and the largest variety of bison dishes found anywhere. To date, Ted’s Montana Grill operates 47 restaurants nationwide.
Turner is also chairman of Turner Enterprises, Inc., a private company which manages his business interests, land holdings and investments, including the oversight of two million acres in 11 states and in Argentina, and more than 50,000 bison head. Through Turner Enterprises, Turner manages the largest commercial bison herd in North America on 15 ranches in Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
Turner is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, industry awards, and civic honors, including being named TIME Magazine’s 1991 Man of the Year, Broadcasting and Cable’s Man of the Century in 1999, and one of TIME 100’s World’s Most Influential People in 2009. In recent years, he received the 2011 Palazzo Strozzi Foundation’s Renaissance Man of the Year award, the Overseas Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award at the 35th Annual Sports Emmy® Awards in 2014, and the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy in 2016, among many others.