KENNY C. GUINN was born in Garland, Arkansas and grew up in Exeter, California. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in physical education from Fresno State University and a doctorate in education from Utah State University. After teaching high school for four years, he moved his family to Las Vegas, where he advanced from central office administration to Clark County School District Superintendent in just five years.
In 1978, Guinn was named administrative vice president for Nevada Savings and Loan, which later became PriMerit Bank, and in 1987, he was appointed chairman of the bank’s board of directors. In 1988, he became president of Southwest Gas Corporation, rising to the position of chairman of the board in 1993. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) sought his assistance in righting the university in 1994, and as UNLV president, he instituted administrative and policy changes that helped the university regain its momentum as an ever-expanding urban college.
First elected governor in 1998 and re-elected in 2002, Guinn changed the face of Nevada government. One of his first executive orders was for each department to complete a fundamental review of state government, which resulted in millions of tax dollars being saved. During his two terms, Governor Guinn streamlined state government while at the same time making state services more accessible to Nevada’s citizens through the increased use of technology. Among the dynamic and innovative programs he has initiated are the Millennium Scholarship, Senior Rx, privatization of the state’s workers’ compensation system, and the 2005 tax surplus rebate program. Guinn has focused on a number of key areas during his administration, including education, health care, social services, energy, homeland security, transportation infrastructure, economic diversification, and blocking the federal government’s proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in southern Nevada.