Sarah Turner, Clarke-Washington EMC Communications Specialist, was named the “Darryl Gates Cooperative Communicator of the Year” during the Alabama Rural Electric Association’s annual communications conference, held August 29-30 at the Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Turner not only walked away with the top award but also received the Award of Excellence for the Best Wild Card and the Award of Excellence for the Best Video.

 The Cooperative Communicator of the Year Award is named for the late Darryl Gates who was editor of Alabama Living magazine for 30 years prior to his death in 2012. Award winning Alabama Living is the official publication of the electric cooperatives in Alabama and is the largest magazine of its type in the state, reaching some 430,000 electric cooperative members.

In presenting the award, judge Donna Abernathy, a nationally recognized award-winning writer and editor from Tennessee, praised Turner for “her skill and knowledge as a graphic designer, digital communicator, videographer, writer/editor and event promoter – all in a day’s work for a cooperative communicator.” She said she earned “this reviewer’s respect for a job well done in many categories, demonstrating a breadth of skill.”

Turner has been the Communications Specialist at Clarke-Washington EMC since graduating from the University of West Alabama in 2018. Turner has a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and is responsible for the co-op’s communications and public relations programs including print and social media.

The Best Wild Card was for her entry titled “The Light” and the Best Video was for her entry for celebrating “Lineman Appreciation.” The winning entries are posted on the co-op’s website at

“We are so proud of Sarah and her accomplishments as our communications specialist,” stated Clarke-Washington EMC General Manager Steve Sheffield. “She has amazing design talent and just a warm, fun personality that makes her so successful in the communications field.

In winning the award, Turner stated, “When they announced my name as the winner, I was so surprised! I never would have dreamed in an industry of such talented communicators that I would have received this award so early in my career. It is such an honor to be the recipient of such a prestigious award.”

Turner is married to Brady Turner and is the daughter of Suzanne and Chris Bailey of Jackson.

Clarke-Washington EMC is a member-owned electric cooperative serving more than 20,000 meters in Clarke, Washington, Wilcox and Monroe counties.