RAY MABUS was born in Choctaw County, Mississippi. He attended Ackerman public schools and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1969. He was a Woodrow Wilson fellow at John Hopkins University, where he received a master’s degree in government in 1970. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1976. He worked as chief assistant to Governor William Winter from 1980 to 1984. He drafted the Education Reform Act of 1982, a landmark bill that was the first major state education reform measure of the 1980s. He served as state auditor from 1983 to 1987. Finally, Mabus was elected Governor of Mississippi in 1987. As governor, his platforms included improving education, expanding economic development, and streamlining state government He pushed through landmark education legislation called Mississippi BEST (Better Education for Success Tomorrow), a challenging and innovative education plan. He also retooled an economic development program that resulted in record business investment in the state. He was chair of the Southern Governors’ Association and the Southern Regional Education Board and honorary co-chair of the United Negro College Fund in Mississippi. He also served as president of the Council of State Governments. In 1990, he was named one of the nation’s top 10 education governors by Fortune Magazine and received the Social Responsibility Award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.