George W. Wilson​ (1943 - 2005)

George W. Wilson is an inspiring example of a life dedicated to service. Born and raised in Paris, Kentucky, he earned his undergraduate degree from Kentucky State University, one of the state’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). He obtained a master's degree in social work from the University of Louisville. 

Throughout his career, Wilson spent a significant amount of time working in the field of corrections. In 1980, he was appointed as the commissioner of the Bureau of Corrections for the Department of Justice. The following year, Governor John Y. Brown Jr. elevated his position to the cabinet level, making Wilson the first African American to serve as a cabinet-level officer. 

For eight years, Wilson served as the secretary of the Corrections Cabinet. During his tenure, the Cabinet led state government in recruitment, retention, and pay for minorities and women. In 1988, he was appointed as the head of Ohio's prison system, the fifth-largest prison system in the country at that time. In 1992, he became the warden of the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, Kentucky, then later served as Franklin County's jailer for approximately two years. In addition to his government service, Wilson also chaired Kentucky State University's board of regents for several years and taught criminal justice classes as a professor. 

George W. Wilson's illustrious career reflects a lifelong dedication to public service. The George W. Wilson Excellence Award, bearing his name, represents a commitment to exceptional leadership in fostering a diverse and skilled workforce that mirrors the communities it serves. Additionally, it places significant emphasis on the rigorous adherence to regulatory standards and the cultivation of a positive work environment within the Executive Branch of Kentucky State government. This award proudly acknowledges Executive Branch cabinets that consistently surpass the established targets for both minority and female employment, aligning with statewide census benchmarks, thus serving as a symbol of excellence in advancing diversity and inclusivity in government service. 


 Wilson, George W., Sr. · Notable Kentucky African Americans Database ( 

George Wilson Obituary (1943 - 2005) - Lexington, KY - Lexington Herald-Leader ( ​​​