National Medal Of Honor Heritage Center Announces 2 Key Staff Additions

  • Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Kenny Turpen
Kenny Turpen

The Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center announced two key additions to its support staff – Kenny Turpen as its new director of development and Maranda Wilkinson as its new director of education.

“As the tourism recovery continues to take shape, I am delighted to announce the Heritage Center has added two incredibly qualified and passionate people to our staff,” said David Currey, executive director of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. “Each will bring their own unique set of qualifications and talents to our mission, but I believe both will play a critical role in shaping our future.”

Mr. Turpen brings with him more than 10 years of development and fundraising experience and will be responsible for managing the Heritage Center’s three annual fundraising events and overseeing its donor development efforts, including the campaign to design and build a new Space Medal of Honor exhibit. Prior to joining the Heritage Center, Mr. Turpen served as the director of development for Southern Adventist University where he managed the university’s annual fundraising and planned giving efforts while helping successfully complete its recent $50 million capital campaign.

Bringing nearly 15 years of education and curriculum experience, Maranda Wilkinson will be responsible for overseeing and growing the Heritage Center’s ongoing educational initiatives. Ms. Wilkinson joined the Heritage Center after working for the Korean War Legacy Foundation where she managed the Foundation’s oral history library and Teacher Fellowship program — a program committed to developing a wide range of educational resources and materials to assist teachers, students and the general public in understanding the origins and outcomes of the Korean War; the challenges that soldiers faced while fighting it; and its rich legacy promoting democracy and freedom in the world today. Prior to working with the Korean War Legacy Foundation, she served in a variety of curriculum development and education roles in Franklin County, Tennessee.

Mr. Currey said, “Chattanooga is the Birthplace of the Medal of Honor. Since opening our doors three years ago, the Heritage Center’s mission has focused on sharing the Medal of Honor story – from the first Medal awarded in 1863 to the present day – and connecting people with these powerful stories in ways that will inspire them to emulate the six values that embody the Medal of Honor in their daily actions and help make our country better.”

Mr. Turpen has a background in education, receiving BS from Southern Adventist University. After teaching for several years, he transitioned careers to philanthropy. He worked at Bethel Bible Village before moving to his alma mater serving as a major gifts officer and eventually director of development. While at Southern Adventist University he helped the university complete its largest-ever campaign at $50M. He raised money for new buildings on campus, endowments, scholarships and special projects. He is a Certified Fund Raise Executive and holds his Certified Specialist in Planned Giving from the American Institute of Philanthropic Studies at California State University at Long Beach. He has lived in the Chattanooga area since 2005. He is married to his wife Lauren and has two children, Molly and Nolan.

Ms. Wilkinson is a former STEM Curriculum specialist/coordinator, curriculum and instruction coach, and middle school Social Studies teacher, serving in Franklin County, Tn., for nine years. She holds a B.S. in Social Studies from Athens State University, a M.S. in Instructional Media from Wilkes University, and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Wilkes University. Her recent work with the Korean War Legacy Foundation included overseeing a cadre of Teacher Fellows from across the U.S. and related educational projects. She has also participated in educational opportunities sponsored by numerous organizations, including the American Friends of Russian Folklore (now Partnership for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Folklore), Korean War Legacy Foundation, Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, and the International School for Jain Studies.

To learn more about the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center and its mission, visit or call 423 877-2525.

Maranda Wilkinson
Maranda Wilkinson
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