By Katalin Gyurián Toth

Some people retire from a long career and are done with work. Not Jamie Sussel Turner. Her retirement from a 37-year career in education led to a second career as a personal and business coach and a volunteer for the TEDx speaker selection team.

So what brought Jamie to TEDxNavesink?

“Back in 2014, I had lunch with a friend who was on the TEDxNavesink team, and a few weeks later I said yes to heading up the blogging team, not really knowing what I was committing to,” Jamie said.

For the 2016 Makers event, she joined the speaker team and curated three talks. One of those was with Covenant House CEO Kevin Ryan.

Kevin’s talk, HopeMakers: Helping Homeless Youth Embrace Life, is one of Jamie’s favorite local talks, not only because of Kevin’s dedication and commitment to homeless youth, but also because of the vulnerability he showed and the hearts his talk touched.

Jamie has always been a TED Talks fan.

Among the global Ted Talks, Jamie’s favorite is Brené Brown’s Power of Vulnerability, an honest look at vulnerability, shame, and perfectionism.

As a TEDxNavesink organizer, Jamie brings her expertise from leading a school team to her current role of leading the speaker team.

“Our task is critical to the success of the event,” Jamie said. “Our team has deep discussions to help us reach consensus as we make tough speaker selection choices. It’s not always easy, and I’m proud of how we are open to having our views influenced as we respectfully listen to one another.

“I’ve also noticed how volunteering opportunities can bring out the best of our career lessons into the service of a new mission. And what makes my involvement with TEDxNavesink a bonus is that I’m adding new skills and keeping current, especially with technology,” she added.


Even before becoming an educator, Jamie worked with children. She has been a babysitter, a Big Sister, a camp counselor, and an elementary school teacher.

After nearly a decade of teaching, she worked as an instructional specialist for the New Jersey Department of Education and then as a supervisor of mathematics in Millburn.

After earning her second master’s degree, Jamie became a principal at the Viola Sickles School in Fair Haven.

She left a beautiful legacy, including revolutionizing the way students spend lunch time. Her story, Education: What’s for Lunch? was featured in the New York Times in 2002.

“I love living near the community where I served as principal,” she said. “Each time I run into a former student I pose the same question: ‘What is one memory from Sickles School that you’d like to share with me?’ Their responses, from favorite teachers to lessons that stuck, remind me of what really matters most in those early school years.”


Jamie is now known as The Less Stress Business Coach. She’s built a thriving business where she helps stressed-out leaders build their skills in feedback, communication, delegation, and more. She even wrote a book.

“It was during a writing workshop with my former teachers that I first got in touch with myself as a writer. I never imagined that this would lead me to write a blog which then led to a book,” Jamie said.

Jamie’s book, Less Stress Business: A Guide for Hiring, Coaching and Leading Great Employees, won an award in 2015.

In her free time, Jamie is an avid reader and exercises regularly. She is also a proud mother of two sons and grandmother to two granddaughters.

Whether hiking in the Highlands, walking along the Jersey Shore, volunteering, or participating in her book club, Jamie is committed to self-betterment physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

When asked what the best advice was for future speakers, she said: “You have to really dig deeply to take what you know or wonder about and find a way to shape it into a powerful idea that will grab and hold the attention of the room.”

She says the best talks are a “mixture of personal stories and compelling information” and cause the audience to say, “I’ve never thought of it that way before.”

So who are the fascinating speakers Jamie and her team of volunteers chose for TEDxNavesink Identity? Be there to see the slate of talks on May 20 in Asbury Park. Get your tickets today.


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