Martha Layne Collins

Born:December 7, 1936 (age 83)
Career:Governor of Kentucky, 1983-1987
Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, 1979-1983
Clerk, Kentucky Court of Appeals, 1975-1979
Education:B.S., University of Kentucky

Martha Layne Collins served as governor of Kentucky from 1983 to 1987, the only woman to hold this position.

Collins was born in Bagdad, Kentucky, on December 7, 1936. She graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1959 with a bachelor of science in home economics. After graduation, she worked as a school teacher. She and her husband become active in civic organizations, including the Jaycees, Jayceettes and the Young Democratic Couples Club.

Collins was asked to co-chair Wendell Ford's gubernatorial campaign in the 6th District in 1971. When she was named a Democratic national committeewoman after Ford's victory, she quit teaching and went to work full-time as secretary for the state Democratic Party and as a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. In 1973, she worked for state senator Walter Huddleston's campaign for the U.S. Senate. In 1975, Collins became a clerk for the Kentucky Court of Appeals. In 1979, she was elected lieutenant governor of Kentucky. During her tenure, she chaired the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, the first woman to hold that position. In 1983, Collins was elected governor, becoming the highest-ranking female Democrat in the country. Under restrictions in the Kentucky constitution at that time, she was ineligible for re-election to a consecutive term.

Since her term as governor, Collins has continued her work in public service as executive in residence at multiple universities and held positions on the boards of directors for several corporations.