|Lived:||September 1, 1933—September 13, 2006 (aged 73)|
|Career:||Governor of Texas, 1991-1995|
Treasurer of Texas, 1983-1991
Travis County (Texas) commissioner, 1977-1983
Ann Willis Richards served as governor of Texas from January 15, 1991, until January 17, 1995.
Born Dorothy Ann Willis, Richards was born on September 1, 1933, in Lakeview, Texas. She received a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and a teaching certificate from the University of Texas. She taught social studies and history at Fulmore Junior High School in Austin before raising her family.
Richards spent much of her time volunteering for political campaigns and causes, especially those focusing on civil rights and economic justice. She entered politics in 1976, winning election as a Travis County commissioner. Six years later, in 1982, she was elected state treasurer, the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas in 50 years. She was credited with greatly modernizing the operations of the treasury. Reelected in 1986, she gained national prominence when she delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.
During her tenure as governor, Richards stressed government efficiency by authorizing comprehensive audits of every state agency. She focused on education, introducing site-based management to put more power in the hands of the parents and teachers at the campus level. In the area of law enforcement, Richards increased prison space, cut the release of violent offenders, introduced a substance abuse program in Texas prisons, and opposed the sale of assault weapons and "cop-killer" bullets. She was also noted for her unprecedented appointments of women and minorities to important administrative posts.
After serving as governor, Richards worked as a consultant and served on several corporate boards. She passed away on September 13, 2006.