Joe Turner, Director, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, is a native Houstonian. He attended the University of Houston, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration, and holds an Executive Master of Business Administration from the Texas Woman's University.
Mr. Turner was appointed by Mayor Bill White and approved by City Council to serve as the Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department in July of 2004. When Mayor Annise Parker took office in 2010, Mr. Turner was asked to continue serving as Director of the department under her administration. Prior to joining the City, he served as Parks Administrator for Harris County Precinct 4. In the private sector, Mr. Turner worked in the franchise business arena on a local, state and national front for more than 35 years.
As the Department’s Director, Mr. Turner is responsible for overseeing the stewardship of the City’s parkland, urban forests and greenspace, park facilities and buildings; recreational programming and activities; parks budget management and facilities management practices. He administers a staff of approximately 800 full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees. He believes in responsive government, customer service and the preservation of parkland and greenspace for today’s park visitors and for future generations.
Director Turner has used his business experience, as well as his experience in parks management, to raise the bar for the department. He guided the Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s National Recreation and Parks Association CAPRA Accreditation Process, which was received in October of 2008. The Department was re-accredited in October 2013 during the National Recreation and Parks Association National Congress which was held in Houston.
Under his direction the department continues to implement his vision of a customer-focused park system intent upon bringing positive changes to neighborhoods through parks. Accomplishments have included: the acquisition and preservation of Lake Houston Wilderness Park, the creation of Playgrounds Without Limits, the creation of Re-Plant Houston in response to the 2011 drought, the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, the Rosemont Bridge, Bayou Greenway 2020, the ongoing renovation of Buffalo Bayou Park through an agreement with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the Shady Lane Park playground renovation, the Bethel Park renovation, and the renovation of historic Emancipation Park.
Director Turner is a board member of the National Recreation and Park Association and the Houston Grand Prix Race Commission. He is a member of: the Greater Gulf Coast Parks and Recreation Director's Association, the Heritage Society, Hermann Park Conservancy, Memorial Park Conservancy, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Trees for Houston, and the Houston Parks Board. [current as of 10/2014]