Secretary of State, January 18, 1995 to January 15, 2003. Member, Governor's Executive Council, 1995-2003. Chair, Governor's Commission on Maryland Military Monuments, 1995-2003. Board of State Canvassers, 1995-2003. Member, Maryland Civil War Heritage Commission, 1995-99; Advisory Committee for the Jefferson Patterson Historical Park and Museum, 1995-2003; Advisory Board, Schaefer Center for Public Policy, University of Baltimore, 1995-2003; Commission to Revise the Election Code, 1996-98; Task Force on Charitable Giving (Maryland Gives!), 1996-2001. Board of Trustees, Maryland Historical Trust, 1998-2000. Member, Task Force to Study the History and Legacy of Slavery in Maryland, 1999; Governor's Interagency Council for the Nonprofit Sector, 1999-2003. Chair, Special Committee on Voting Systems and Election Procedures in Maryland, 2000-01. Chair, Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee, 2001-02. Chair, Governor's Subcabinet for International Affairs, 2001-03.
Chair, Elections Work Group, Governor-elect's Transition Team, 2006-07. Senior Counsel, Office of Attorney General, 2015-.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1, 1946. Attended Westminster High School, Westminster, Maryland; Bucknell University, B.A. (economics), cum laude, 1968. Served in U.S. Army; Judge Advocate General Corps, 1968-71; Defense Appellate Division, 1971-74; Legal Assistance Officer, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, 1974-75. Harvard Law School, J.D., 1971. Attorney. Private practice, 1975-85. Blades & Rosenfeld, 1985-87. Weinberg & Green, 1988-94. Of Counsel, Bowie & Jensen, LLC, 2003-. Member, Maryland State Bar Association (section of real property, planning & zoning; section of state & local government); Carroll County Bar Association. Adjunct professor (business administration & economics), McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College), 1979-99. Adjunct professor (public policy, government & politics), University of Baltimore, 2003-. Director, Government and Public Policy Program, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Baltimore. Member, Democratic State Central Committee, Carroll County, 1982-86. Member, Democratic National Committee, 1987-89, 1995-. Delegate, Democratic Party National Convention, 1988, 1996, 2000. Chair, Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, 1995-2000. Member, National Association of Secretaries of State (past regional vice-president; member, special committee on presidential primaries; vice-chair, election reform task force). Past member, Intergovernmental Affairs Subcommittee on Election Reform, Council of State Governments. Author, Presidential Elections in Maryland (1984). Co-author, Maryland Government and Politics (2012). Married; two children; two grandchildren.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1, 1946, Mr. Willis attended Carroll County public schools, graduating from Westminster High School in 1964. Mr. Willis graduated cum laude from Bucknell University with a B.A. in economics in 1968. He received his J.D. in 1971 from Harvard Law School with an emphasis on constitutional law.
In the United States Army, Mr. Willis served in the Judge Advocate General Corps from 1968 to 1971 at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and Fort Meade, Maryland. In the U.S. Army Judiciary, he was Clerk to the Army Court of Military Review and served with the Defense Appellate Division, 1971-74. Mr. Willis completed his tour of duty as the Legal Assistance Officer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, 1974-75. As an attorney, he engaged in private general practice in Westminster, Maryland, and in Baltimore City from 1975 to 1990 with extensive experience in small business, real estate, zoning and land-use law. He was Chief of Staff to the County Executive of Prince George's County from 1990 to 1994.
Mr. Willis is an author, historian, and widely recognized expert on the Maryland electorate and the State's demographics. An adjunct professor, he has taught in the Business and Economics Department at McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College) since 1979 and frequently lectures throughout the State. His published works include Presidential Elections in Maryland, Lomond Publications, Inc., 1984; "The United States Court of Military Appeals: Born Again," 52 Indiana Law Journal 151 (1976); "The United States Court of Military Appeals: Its Origin, Operation and Future," 57 Military Law Review 27 (1972). He was a contributing author to Western Maryland: A Profile, T. H. Hattery, ed., (1980), and Justice and the Military, H. E. Moyer, Jr., ed., (1972). From December 1973 to August 1974, he edited The Advocate, a bimonthly newsletter for military defense counsel.
Secretary Willis chaired the Governor's Commission on Maryland Military Monuments and was the Governor's representative on the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum Advisory Board. He served on the Commission to Revise the Election Code (1996-98), which led to modernization and recodification of Maryland's election laws. Secretary Willis also served on the Maryland Gives! Task Force created by the Governor and the General Assembly to conduct research on the nonprofit sector and charitable giving, and recommend ways to promote and improve charitable giving throughout the State. In addition, he served on the Advisory Board to the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Center for Public Policy, and the Advisory Committee on Ethics and Accountability in the Nonprofit Sector of the Maryland Association of Nonprofits. Secretary Willis is a member of the Maryland Historical Society, the Carroll County Bar Association, the Maryland Bar Association, and a past president of the Carroll County Arts Council.
From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Willis served on the Democratic National Committee and was Vice-Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. At the Democratic Party National Conventions, he served on the Rules Committee in 1976, 1984, and 1992; as an Alternate Delegate in 1980; and as a Delegate in 1988, 1996, and 2000. He served as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee for Carroll County, having been elected with the highest number of votes in the primary election on September 14, 1982. In 1992, he was a member of the Electoral College from Maryland. Secretary Willis was elected Chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State in 1995 and served as their representative to the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Willis is married to Kathy S. Mangan, a published poet and Professor of English at McDaniel College. He is the father of two children - Karen M. Willis, a graduate of American University and Vermont Law School, and James T. Willis, a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College - and has two grandchildren.
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