On Friday evening, April 15, 2011, at 7 p.m., the Albany Technical College Foundation will be holding their annual Roast in the Kirkland Conference Center on the college campus. This year, the College will be “roasting” former State of Georgia Labor Commissioner, Michael Thurmond. A silent auction will also be held in the Conference Center atrium beginning at 6 p.m.
Michael Thurmond has distinguished himself as an attorney, author, lecturer and public servant. He 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.
In 1986, Thurmond became the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. During his legislative tenure, Thurmond authored major legislation that has provided more than $250 million in tax relief to Georgia’s senior citizens and working families. Following his tenure in the legislature, Thurmond was called upon to direct Georgia’s historic transition from welfare to work.
He created the innovative Workfirst program, which has helped over 90,000 welfare-dependent Georgia families move into the workforce, saving more than $100 million in tax dollars that have been 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.
During his three terms as labor commissioner, the Labor Department went under a significant transformation in customer service and efficiency. Unemployment offices were transformed into state-of-the-art Career Centers focused on getting jobless Georgians back to work as quickly as possible.
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.
Roasters for the evening include: Albany Technical College President, Dr. Anthony Parker; Panzer Hall, retired Employment Marketing Representative for the Department of Labor; Gene Washington, Communications/Outreach Specialist for the Department of Labor; Ron Jackson, Commissioner for the Technical College System of Georgia; and Dr. Willie Adams, Mayor for the City of Albany.
The Albany Tech Foundation, Inc. holds two major fundraisers each year – a golf tournament in the fall and the Roast in the spring. The funds raised through these events go towards foundation and other college programs and activities.
The next Foundation fundraiser will be a golf tourney held in October at Grand Island Golf Course. More details forthcoming.