|Michael Thurmond has distinguished himself as an attorney, author, lecturer and public servant.
In 1986, he answered the call to public service and was elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County. During his legislative tenure, he was the only African-American legislator elected from a majority white district. While serving in the General Assembly, Thurmond authored major legislation that has provided more than $250 million in tax relief to Georgia’s senior citizens and working families.
After serving three terms in the legislature, Governor Zell Miller selected Thurmond to direct Georgia’s historic transition from welfare to work. He created the Work First program, which helped over 90,000 welfare-dependent Georgia families move into the workforce, saving more than $100 million in tax dollars that were reinvested in childcare, training and other support services.
In 1997, Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The following year, he was elected Georgia Labor Commissioner.
Now serving his third term as labor commissioner, the Labor Department has undergone a significant transformation in customer service and efficiency. Unemployment offices have been transformed into state-of-the-art Career Centers and Thurmond’s innovative Georgia Works program has been hailed as a national model.
Thurmond’s latest book, Freedom: Georgia’s Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865, was awarded the Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Award and the Georgia Center for the Book listed Freedom as one of The 25 Books All Georgians Should Read. He presently serves on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society.
Thurmond graduated with honors from Paine College with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion and later earned a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. He also completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Thurmond is a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church West, of Athens. He and his wife Zola are the proud parents of a daughter, Mikaya.