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Martha Layne Collins

Martha Layne Collins
A black-and-white photo of a woman in her fifties making a speech behind a podium and microphone
Governor Martha Layne Collins giving a speech, November 1986
Personal data
Date of birthDecember 7, 1936(age 80)
Place of birthBagdad, Kentucky
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseBill Collins
Alma materUniversity of Kentucky
56th Governor of Kentucky
In officeDecember 13, 1983 - December 8, 1987
LieutenantSteven L. Beshear
Succeeded byWallace G. Wilkinson
Preceded byJohn Y. Brown, Jr.
47th Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
In officeDecember 11, 1979 - December 13, 1983
GovernorJohn Y. Brown, Jr.
Succeeded bySteven L. Beshear
Preceded byThelma Stovall

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Martha Layne (Hall) Collins (born December 7, 1936) is a politician from the U.S. state of Kentucky. From 1983 to 1987 she was the 56th Governor of Kentucky, having served the previous four years as lieutenant governor. She was Kentucky's first and only female governor to date. At the time of her election, she was the seventh woman to serve as governor of any state, and the third who was not the wife or widow of a past governor. She was considered as a possible running mate for Walter Mondale in the 1984 presidential election. The 1993 conviction of her husband, Dr. Bill Collins, in an influence-peddling scandal damaged her hopes of making future political endeavors.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Collins worked as a school teacher while her husband finished a degree in dentistry. She became interested in politics and worked on the senatorial campaigns of Wendell Ford and Walter "Dee" Huddleston. She was chosen secretary of the state Democratic Party and was elected clerk of the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1975. During her tenure, the judicial system was restructured, and the Court of Appeals became the Kentucky Supreme Court; Collins continued as clerk of the renamed court. In 1979, Collins was elected lieutenant governor, serving under Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. Brown was frequently out of the state, leaving Collins as acting governor for more than 500 days of her term.

Collins defeated Jim Bunning to become Kentucky's first female governor in 1983. Her administration had two primary focuses: education and economic development. Her major accomplishment as governor was the use of economic incentives to bring a Toyota manufacturing plant to Georgetown, Kentucky. Toyota continued to invest heavily in Kentucky and the state experienced record economic growth under Collins' leadership. After her term as governor, she taught at several universities and served as president of Saint Catharine College near Springfield, Kentucky from 1990 to 1996. She was rumored to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate or a position in the administration of President Bill Clinton prior to her husband's conviction. She presently serves on the boards of directors of several companies, including Eastman Kodak; she is also an Executive Scholar in Residence at Georgetown College and the chair and CEO of the Kentucky World Trade Center.

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