AN INTRO TO TURO'S EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MANAGER, JOHN A. HEATH
John A. Heath is the Government Relations Manager of External Affairs at Turo. He began as a contractor for a few months and has been with Turo for a year. John is known for his great style on most days he can be found in dapper suits with funky patterns.
Q: What was your first car?
A: A white AMC Hornet with blue interior.
Q: What is your dream car?
A: It’s a toss up between a fully loaded 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV or 2019 Lincoln Navigator.
Q: What is your go-to weekend getaway destination?
A: I wish I had one. You can typically find me either preaching or teaching at leadership retreats.
Q: To give our readers some context, can you explain to us what exactly is Government Relations, and how does it fit into Turo as a whole?
A: As peer-to-peer car sharing continues to be a new and emerging industry, unfortunately the laws that govern companies such as Turo have not been as quick to adapt. In order for businesses such as a Turo to flourish, a strong Government Relations effort is imperative. The work that we do on the Government Relations team here at Turo, is comprised of engaging in an active dialogue with policy makers to ensure that existing laws are amended in a way that appropriately regulates the peer-to-peer car sharing industry.
Q: How important is External Affairs to work that is being done on the Government Relations team at Turo?
A: In the traditional sense, Government Relations departments in the tech world typically don’t include an External Affairs component. What sets Turo apart from many of its counterparts is Turo’s focus on External Affairs. My job focuses on developing allies, partners, and influencers who are able to amplify Turo’s voice in State legislatures, and for those allies to exert influence with elected officials and agency administrators on behalf of Turo. I’ve been fortunate to work with various organizations throughout my career and have built strong relationships around the country that I am now able to leverage. I’m constantly traveling around the country to engage local and national organizations such as the NAACP, the Urban League, and the National Action Network, to share Turo’s message of economic inclusivity and forge partnerships that will help us gain support with key policy makers.
Q: Can you tell us how you ended up working in Government Relations and specifically External Affairs, and share what were doing before you came to Turo?
A: As I mentioned before, I come from a non-tech background. I’ve spent 29 years as a minister in the African-American church, 17 of them as a Senior Pastor. Historically, the Black church has been the center for social action and it’s where I established the relationships I now have around the country. My background allows me to bring a different approach to traditional Government Relations practices in the field. The time I’ve spent in ministry has given me the opportunity to cultivate incredibly meaningful relationships with various diverse groups. The Turo community is comprised of individuals with powerful stories, and I take my job to be one that builds bridges between legislators and those who potentially can be affected by the legislation being discussed.
Q: Is there a specific project you are working on and would like to share with OpenRoad readers?
A: I am currently developing partnerships with major national civil rights organizations, and their local affiliates on advocacy efforts in different states. An incredible amount of Turo users are people of color which is roughly 40% of our hosts and guests. My hope is to work with these groups to ensure Turo’s ability to operate in states is uninhibited, thereby providing opportunities for women, and people of color to close the wealth and income gaps.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I believe this role was created for me, therefore I see this as part of my purpose. I came to this job with a non-traditional background and rather having worked in tech I have a background in ministry, as well as, working for Governors, State Senators, Mayors, and County Executives. This job is the perfect union in bringing diverse groups of individuals together to make a positive impact on the changing world of tech.
Q: How can the readers of OpenRoad help you and the Government Relations team in making sure that there is a space for peer-to-peer car sharing in the legislative space? And can you speak to why it is so important.
A: The most effective way OpenRoad readers and Turo users can help the Government Relations team is by contacting their representatives and asking them to support legislation that enables Turo to operate unhindered. I want to urge OpenRoad readers and users of Turo to join those efforts by sending emails, writing letters, and calling, or testifying before legislators. This is critically important because legislators need to hear how Turo benefits their constituents. When legislators support legislation that enables Turo’s business model to flourish, their constituents flourish!