Joe Turner spent 35 years in the Restaurant industry with thirty of those years in the Burger King system. Burger King Corporation employed him for 13 years in various managerial positions. His role was to develop new franchisees and advise existing franchisees on their operations. He left BKC to become a Burger King Franchisee with four restaurants for the next 10 years. He served on the National Franchisee Association, made up of Burger Franchisees during this time and represented seven states and made frequent trips to Congress on their behalf. After selling the restaurants, he worked with various restaurant companies over the next 5 years.
In September 2002 Joe was appointed by Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole as the Park Administrator for Precinct 4. He collaborated with his Team to begin the vision and planning for the Spring Creek Greenway between two Counties. Today the Spring Creek Greenway is over 40 miles of green space with hiking and biking trail in addition to canoeing and kayaking. In July 2004 Joe was recruited by Mayor Bill White to serve as the Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. He continued to serve at the request of Mayor Annise Parker and Mayor Sylvester Turner until he retired in April 2017.
In 2008 under his direction HPARD received their CAPRA Accreditation. At the NRPA Conference in Houston in 2013, HPARD completed their 5-year reaccreditation. His accomplishments include developing inclusive Playgrounds with Without Limits and installing them in Parks with public transportation nearby to provide equitable access to these playgrounds. He was instrumental in developing successful Public Private Partnerships to expand the Departments Capital Bond Funding.
Preservation of Historic Parks and Buildings was a signature element of his time as Director. Those include Sam Houston Park - the first City Park 1899 which contains the oldest House in Houston on its original foundation, Bethel Park – a burned historical African American Church structure that pays homage to that history, Emancipation Park – the oldest Park in the City 1872 and the Parks Department office at Gragg Park, which was the original Manned Space Headquarters for the first two years NASA was in Houston. This building received City Historical recognition, State Historical Recognition and is listed in the National Register of Historical Places in 2009 and was a Gold LEED Certified building.
Joe was recruited to serve on the Brackenridge Park Conservancy board in San Antonio in 2020 and then asked to step off the board in 2021 to become a consultant for Capital Projects. He stepped in as the Interim Director from Dec 2021 to Nov 2022. Since then, he has continued as a consultant for Capital Projects.
Joe served on the NRPA Board of Directors for 7 years. He was Chair of the Public Policy Committee for two years and a member of the committee for many years. He made numerous visits over the years to Congress advocating for Park and Recreation funding. Joe was elected to The American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration in 2014 and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2018 by the membership.
He currently serves as the Chair of the New Braunfels Park Advisory Board. He served on the New Braunfels Independent School District Facilities Planning Committee in 2021 and the City of New Braunfels Bond Advisory Committee in 2022-2023. He is a member of the NRPA, AAPRA and the Texas Recreation and Park Society. He has a BBA from the University of Houston and an MBA from Texas Woman’s University. Joe considers his greatest accomplishment to be his kidney he donated to his son at the age of sixty-six. [current as of 06/2023]