JOE FRANK HARRIS was born in Bartow County, Georgia. He received a bachelor’s degree in business adminstration from the University of Georgia in 1958. He was first elected governor in 1982 after serving 18 years in the Georgia House of Representatives. He was well known for his role in education reform legislation, called the Quality Basic Education Act. During his terms, he was envolved with international investments; creating new jobs; increasing state revenue; relocating many national and international headquarters to Georgia; and increasing air, rail, and port traffic. He also intiated campaigns to raise awareness of drug abuse and adult illiteracy and protect the environment. He was won the 1989 National Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Planning Association, served as chair of the Southern Governors’ Association, the Southern Regional Education Board, the Southern Growth Policies Board, and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
This searchable database identifies former governors by state and dates of service. The governors' biographies available on the NGA website provide summary biographical information only and are edited infrequently.