Original article by: BUILDER Online

Through both internal programs and external ventures, Taylor Morrison's chairman and CEO has demonstrated a lifetime to public service.


A passion for public service has been ingrained in Sheryl Palmer’s way of life since age 16, when she worked for McDonald’s as a community relations representative. In the role, she would dress up as some of the restaurant’s iconic characters, such as the Hamburglar or Mayor McCheese, and go into hospitals to visit sick children.

“It’s going to sound really silly, but the Hamburglar was a hated character because he stole the kids’ burgers,” says Palmer. “When I went into hospitals, I got to give. The Hamburglar wasn’t allowed to talk, so it was through your actions and creating relationships with these really sick kids that just wanted to have fun.”

But while studying special education and teaching at San Diego State University, Palmer’s career path went in another direction. One that would lead her to become the chairman and CEO of Taylor Morrison—No. 5 on the latest Builder 100 list—and a 2021 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award recipient.

“Hearthstone is proud to recognize Ms. Sheryl Palmer as our 2021 public home builder winner for her leadership and far-reaching efforts that support her team members, customers, and the hundreds of communities in which Taylor Morrison serves,” says Mark Porath, CEO of Hearthstone.

Palmer at the Management Conference in 2019.
Courtesy Taylor Morrison Palmer at the Management Conference in 2019.

As a person, parent, and leader who always chooses to pay it forward, Palmer has fostered a workplace that continually gives back. Taylor Morrison’s employee-value proposition, called TMLiving, includes daily huddles that allow employees to have regular conversations about everyone’s charitable efforts and provide inspiring examples of how team members give back to their communities.

“We build communities literally and figuratively,” says Palmer. “It’s one of the core tenets around our commitment to serving our communities.”

Palmer has also established the TM Care Fund, run in partnership through the St. Louis Community Foundation, to help team members with financial burdens during trying times. If needed, an employee can request and receive $2,000 up to three times throughout their career for events like natural disasters, serious illnesses or injuries, or death where loss of income, funeral costs, or uninsured medical expenses impact the ability to cover basic living expenses.

Beyond TMLiving and the TM Care Fund, Palmer and her team launched Build Joy in 2017, an annual internal campaign. In lieu of one large donation to a charity, the builder asks its employees, “If you were given $1,000 to ‘build joy’ in your community, how would you spend it?” Each year, from hundreds of submissions, roughly 10 people are selected to bring their ideas to life.

“An individual in Denver may submit the request, but the whole division comes together,” Palmer explains. “It is so inspirational for me to know that’s part of the DNA of this organization.”

Outside of Taylor Morrison, Palmer has served as chairman of the board for HomeAid America, which is devoted to building new lives for America’s homeless population through housing and community outreach, for a two-and-a-half-year term that ends July 2021. Under her leadership, Taylor Morrison has deepened its chapter presence with involvement in 12 HomeAid chapters across the U.S. The divisions partner with HomeAid to build and refurbish housing options for local homeless residents, including building tiny homes in Austin’s Community First! Village, renovating a North Georgia shelter for young women in foster care, and renovating apartment homes for veterans in Sacramento.

“Through Taylor Morrison’s Build Joy program, she along with her team members at the helm, have made immeasurable impact on their communities nationwide through efforts such as assembling care packages to hand out to the homeless, renovating a teachers’ lounge and building desks for students, to creating a dream bedroom for a child with a terminal illness," continues Porath.