LOUISVILLE, KY (AP) - Governor Steve Beshear announced Friday afternoon he will appoint Elaine Walker to the office of Kentucky Secretary of State following the announcement that Trey Grayson is resigning later this month to take a high-level job at Harvard University.
Walker, who is now the mayor of Bowling Green, said she intends to run for a full term this year.
Grayson, who is ending his second term as Secretary of State, will become director of the Institute of Politics at the Ivy League school on Jan. 31.
A release from the school on Friday said Grayson will resign his post as secretary of state shortly before then. Grayson calls his new job an "irresistible opportunity."
In a news release, Beshear said the office, "is too important to the citizens of this state to allow any delay in appointing a new leader."
Walker was the first mayor of Bowling Green elected to two consecutive terms. She is currently the President of the Kentucky League of Cities.
David T. Ellwood, dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government praised Grayson, a Harvard graduated, for his work in government.
"Trey Grayson is a very accomplished and distinguished public servant with an impressive track record in elective office," said Ellwood. "His knowledge and experience on the state and national levels will provide the Institute with fresh and vigorous leadership at a time when many young people are becoming engaged with politics for the first time."
Grayson earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1994, serving as the vice chair of the IOP Student Advisory Committee and is now a member of the IOP's Senior Advisory Committee.
The Institute of Politics was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. Its mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service. The IOP strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs.
As Director, Grayson will be charged with setting the strategic vision and budgetary priorities for the long-term direction and affairs of the Institute. He will also oversee the myriad activities of the Institute, which include: a resident fellows program for individuals from active political life; student programs such as internships in public service, research awards and special projects; educational seminars for elected officials; conferences designed to bring together academic, political and governmental leaders; and a year-long series of lectures in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
Grayson will succeed former U.S. Senator John C. Culver (D-IA), who has served as interim director since July 2010.
Grayson has been considered a rising political star, but he lost his bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate last year to newcomer Rand Paul, who won election in November.
Grayson was first elected as Kentucky's Secretary of State in 2003 and then re-elected by a wide margin in 2007.