Torre Jessup in driver’s seat at N.C. DMV

Torre Jessup is the commissioner of the N.C. DMV.

Torre Jessup in driver’s seat at N.C. DMV
February 14
00:12 2019

Throughout Black History Month, The Chronicle will be highlighting history makers from right here in our community who are making a difference and setting an example for others.

This week we shine our light on Torre Jessup, Commissioner of the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.

A native of Winston-Salem and Glenn High School graduate, Jessup took his talents to Morehouse College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice. After college Jessup served in the office of N.C. Congressman Mel Watt as district director.

It was with Congressman Watt that Jessup said he learned the importance of public service.

“He (Watt) recognized that he was a public servant and he had to be accessible and available to the public. He had to be a voice to those who may not always have a voice and he ran his office that way,” said Jessup. “…Regardless of party affiliation, regardless of socioeconomic status, everybody got the same high level service.”

After his tenure with Congressman Watt, where he managed outreach and constituent affairs and set policy objectives, Jessup got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was asked to work with President Barack Obama. In the fall of 2014, President Obama appointed Jessup to serve as the regional administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration’s Southeast Sunbelt Region.

“…Public service wasn’t new to me at that point but it was new to go into administration and lead the legislative side of government and go to the executive branch to work for the first African-American President of the United States of America. That was humbling.” Jessup said.

As regional administrator Jessup was responsible for 1,000 employees who oversaw the delivery of real estate, technology, and procurement solutions totaling $10 billion to eight states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Continuing on his journey of service, Jessup’s next stop was with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). During his tenure there Jessup served as the director of the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization. Jessup said his responsibility there was to oversee two different programs; one geared towards helping small business owners get government contracts and the other ensuring the USDOT was meeting their M/WBE requirements.

Jessup also served as vice president of public policy and external affairs at Blue Bloodhound, a start-up technology company, before taking his current position with the N.C. DMV.

Since 2017 Jessup has managed the daily operations of the N.C. DMV inducing registration, drivers licenses, vehicle safety and inspections. As you can imagine, an average day for Jessup is pretty busy. He said he meets daily with the leadership in the organization to discuss the strategic direction of the N.C. DMV. Jessup said the leadership of the N.C. DMV works hard to ensure safety for citizens across the state.

“We approve and authorize the privilege for individuals to be able to drive and place vehicles on our highways and that’s a very important responsibility to ensure safety,” he said. “…The function that we play is very important. We try to serve the people of North Carolina by making sure those privileges are issued the way they should be.”

Although his life experiences have given him opportunities to do some wonderful things, Jessup said his fondest memories are here in Winston-Salem, specifically his time playing Pop Warner football for the Tiny Indians. He said some of the life lessons he learned from his coaches are still with him today.

“My time spent playing for the Tiny Indians was pretty significant. The type of structure that we got from those coaches meant a whole lot. I think that was pivotal in my life because those coaches were a different breed than what you see now,” he said. “They taught us teamwork, they taught us about preparation and they taught us to look out for each other.

“A whole lot of things we learned out there on that field, a lot of us are probably applying to our lives today.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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