On January 7, 2011, the John F. Kennedy School of Government announced that Trey Grayson, then completing his second term as Secretary of State in Kentucky, was named Director of the Institute of Politics. Grayson began service as Director on January 31, succeeding Interim Director John C. Culver.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson was elected to office in November of 2003 in his first run for political office. At the time of his election he was the youngest Secretary of State in the country. In 2007, he became one of only two Republican state-wide elected constitutional officers to win a second consecutive term in modern history. After taking office, Grayson quickly became a national leader in elections, civics, business services, and government innovation. He served as President of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) in 2009-2010.
Grayson modernized the Office of the Secretary of State by bringing more services online, enhancing Kentucky’s election laws through several legislative packages, and reviving the civic mission of schools in Kentucky by leading the effort to restore civics education in the classroom.
Secretary Grayson was recognized as one of the top new leaders in the United States. In 2005, he was selected for the inaugural class of the Aspen-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership which recognizes the nation’s top young elected officials. In 2004, The Council of State Governments selected him to participate in the prestigious Toll Fellowship Program, and he was recognized at the 2004 Republican National Convention by United Leaders as a “Rising Star” in the Republican Party.
In 2004, Grayson became a member of the Senior Advisory Committee to Harvard University's Institute of Politics, serving alongside political notables such as Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Senator Edward Kennedy. Grayson served on a variety of advisory boards to several national, election-related organizations and the steering committee for the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools.
During his administration, Secretary Grayson’s colleagues asked him to serve in a variety of prominent national leadership positions, including chair of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State. A former NASS Treasurer, chair of the NASS Elections committee, co-chair of the NASS Presidential Primary subcommittee, vice-chair of the NASS committee on voter participation, and NASS representative on the Council of State Government Executive Committee, Grayson also served on the NASS standing committee on business services and the NASS executive committee. Through these positions, Grayson became a national authority on presidential primary reform and election administration.
Secretary Grayson also served on the Federal Election Assistance Commission's Board of Advisors.
During his tenure, Secretary Grayson received accolades for a number of accomplishments such as:
Leading the effort to increase the civic literacy and engagement of Kentucky’s citizens – a movement that has been recognized as a national model; and
Launching several new online election services including the Voter Information Center, which allows Kentuckians to check their voter registrations and obtain other specific information pertinent to voters; and
Leading the successful effort to update Kentucky’s election laws including a repeal of taxpayer funded gubernatorial campaigns in the Commonwealth and the establishment of a 300 foot electioneering-free buffer zone around the polls. He also led Kentucky’s successful implementation of the Help America Vote Act; and
Re-designing the Office of the Secretary of State’s website to include a variety of new online services including: translation into six new languages, the Governor’s Executive Journal, Enacted Legislation, additional Land Grant documents, and a summonses tracking service. The site was recognized as one of the top government websites in the country after its completion; and
Placing thousands of business documents online, including popular documents such as the Certificate of Existence and the Certificate of Authorization. In addition, during his administration the office started placing images of all documents online in real time as they are filed; and
Leading a number of other initiatives including: the release of a study on female elected officials and a study on diversity of leaders in the Commonwealth which contained valuable information to empower the next generation of leaders to run for office, the establishment of the Cradle to College Commission with former treasurer Jonathan Miller to explore unique ways of funding higher education, and the execution of the National Student/Parent Mock Election in Kentucky.
A product of the Kenton County public school system, Secretary Grayson was inducted into the Kentucky Association for Academic Competition Hall of Fame for his achievements in the Governor’s Cup and other academic competitions at Dixie Heights High School. Grayson was a 1989 Governor’s Scholar and later served as President of the Program’s Alumni Association.
Secretary Grayson graduated with honors from Harvard College (A.B., Government, 1994) and from the University of Kentucky (J.D. 1998, M.B.A., 1998) where he was one of the first Kentucky MBA scholars and one of the first two Bert Combs Scholars, the College of Law’s top scholarship. He received one of the inaugural University of Kentucky College of Law Young Professional Awards. Prior to his election, he was an attorney with Greenebaum Doll & McDonald and Keating, Muething & Klekamp, where he focused on estate planning and corporate law.
Secretary Grayson served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations, including the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program, the Commonwealth Fund for KET, the Kentucky Symphony, the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education, the New Hope Center, the ConnectKentucky steering committee, the Global Center of Greater Cincinnati Advisory Committee and the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board. He is a 2002 graduate of Leadership Kentucky and a 2000 graduate of Leadership Northern Kentucky. He is also a founding member of Legacy, a young professional organization in Northern Kentucky.
In Kentucky, some of his notable honors include his selection as one of forty-four “Kentucky Leaders for the New Century” by the Kentucky Press Association and the Shakertown Roundtable, and as an Outstanding Young Kentuckian by the Kentucky Jaycees.
In 2006, Grayson chaired the Kentucky Employees Charitable Campaign, a partnership of Kentucky state employees and six accredited state-wide charities, who together work to make a significant difference in the lives of our families, friends and neighbors throughout the Commonwealth. Under his leadership, the campaign raised over $1.33 million for charities such as the Christian Appalachian Project, Community Health Charities, Easter Seals of Kentucky, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, the WHAS Crusade for Children, and the United Way of Kentucky.
Secretary Grayson is a fifth generation Kentuckian and lifelong resident of Northern Kentucky. With his election, Grayson became the first Northern Kentuckian to be elected to an existing statewide constitutional office since 1919, and during both of his races, he was endorsed by every newspaper editorial board in Kentucky that made endorsements for Secretary of State.
Grayson is married to the former Nancy Humphrey of Lexington. Mrs. Grayson served the Commonwealth in a number of community organizations such as the Boone County Public Library Board of Trustees, the Family Nurturing Center, the United Way Impact Council for Children Prepared for Kindergarten, and Kindervelt, which raises funding for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. She also served on the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, and was a member of Leadership Northern Kentucky (Class of 2009).
After an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate during the 2010 primary election and due to term limitations for the office of Secretary of State, on January 7, 2011, Secretary Grayson announced his forthcoming resignation. He had accepted the directorship of Harvard University's Institute of Politics effective January 31. "I am excited and humbled to be selected as director," Grayson said in a prepared statement. "The IOP played a pivotal role in developing my interest and approach to politics and public service. I look forward to working with the staff, students, and my Kennedy School colleagues to inspire a new generation of undergraduates to pursue public service like I did."
Regarding his appointment, Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation President and IOP Senior Advisory Committee Interim Chair, said, "Trey Grayson is exactly the right person to lead the IOP as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of my father's Presidency. He is an inspirational young leader committed to civic engagement, bipartisan cooperation and civil debate. I look forward to working with him to inspire the next generation to answer President Kennedy's call to service."
As the resignation occurred within twelve months of the expiration of Grayson's term in office, his successor was appointed by Governor Steve Beshear pursuant to Chapter 152 of the Kentucky Constitution. Mayor Elaine N. Walker of Bowling Green was named Secretary of State to serve the remainder of Grayson's term.
While serving as Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Trey Grayson and his wife, Nancy, resided in Boone County with their two daughters, Alex and Kate.