University of Kentucky


Hall of Distinguished Alumni

Martha Layne Collins

Born in Bagdad, Kentucky, December 7, 1936. Educator. Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky. University of Kentucky, B.S., 1959.

Elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1983, she is the third woman in the history of the United States to be elected Governor in her own right. She is only the sixth woman to serve as Governor of any state.

A school teacher, she began her political career in 1971, when she became the Central Kentucky coordinator of women's activities for Wendell Ford's successful gubernatorial campaign. He then appointed her the Democratic national committee woman from Kentucky. In 1972, she again assisted a political winner, Walter "Dee" Huddleston, in his senatorial campaign. Then she served as Democratic party secretary.

In 1975, she was elected clerk of the Court of Appeals. Due to a judicial reform amendment to the state Constitution, she is the last person to be elected clerk of the Court of Appeals and the first person to be clerk of the Kentucky Supreme Court.

She brought her teaching skills to the clerk's office. After finding that there was no information available to students and the general public about the court changes, she compiled and published a brochure on the Supreme Court. She also contacted the Department of Education so that the two state agencies could work together to develop a teacher's manual on Kentucky's court changes. The manual was placed in schools and libraries across the Commonwealth.

She is past President of the Woodford County Jaycee-ettes, a member of the Kentucky Commission on Women, the Business and Professional Women's Club, the UK National Alumni Association, and the Order of the Eastern Star.

She was named 1976 Woman of Achievement by the Woodford County BPW and was chosen in 1977 by Governor Julian Carroll to serve as Kentucky Executive Director of the Friendship Force.

In 1979, she was elected Kentucky's Lieutenant Governor, and in 1983, was elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

In 1984, she was selected to Chair the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, California.

Martha Layne Collins was named to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni on May 10, 1985.

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