A “Homegrown Hero & Trailblazer”
Wayne K. Curry’s personal history coincides with the historical events that spurred the remarkable transition of Prince George’s from majority-slave county to one of the most affluent and successful majority-minority counties in the United States today.
A life-long resident of Prince George’s County, Wayne was among the first students to desegregate white schools in the County. He graduated from Bladensburg High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Maryland College. After graduation, he returned to Prince George’s County to work as an educator, as a staff member in then-County Executive Winfield Kelly’s administration and later for NAI Michael, while attending the University of Maryland School of Law at night and earning his juris doctorate with honors.
During the 1980’s, Mr. Curry continued his amazing trajectory, becoming a well-known and successful lawyer, serving as a corporate attorney in real estate and a major hospital system in Prince George’s County, and establishing his own private practice. He continued to engage in local politics, lending support and keen strategic skills to deserving candidates and worthy causes, and building a strong network of contacts, friends, supporters, and young allies throughout the County and the region.
Mr. Curry made history in 1994, becoming the first African American ever elected County Executive for Prince George’s County! An effective, productive, and popular two-term visionary in the County’s highest elected office, Wayne spurred considerable economic growth with various major projects such as upscale executive housing communities, small business initiatives, and impressive large commercial development projects, including National Harbor, Bowie Town Center, and FedEx Field, home of the Washington
Inclusion and a commitment to achieving parity by “leveling the playing field” were hallmarks of the Curry Administration. Wayne dramatically increased opportunities for participation by talented, abundantly qualified African Americans in managerial and appointed positions in the County and the number of African Americans represented in the County’s key elected positions rose to 38 percent. Through collaboration, consensus and, when necessary, the willingness to take on the establishment as a formidable opponent, County Executive Curry was instrumental in “raising the bar” in Prince George’s County – heightening awareness of the County throughout the State and region and placing the County “on the map” nationally via his service on the National Association of Counties (NACo), County Executives of America, and as six-year Chair of Local Urban Counties, consisting of the 100 largest counties in the nation. Under his leadership, Prince George’s County morphed into the only major jurisdiction in the nation where great racial transformation resulted in a substantial increase, rather than a decrease, in income and education
Ever a steadfast champion of Prince George’s County, Wayne continued his professional career in the County as President of NAI Michael, the real estate development firm where he got his start in the late 1970’s, and continued to serve County government as Chairman of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation. He also continued his decades-long commitment to myriad community service organizations and charitable endeavors in the County through Board memberships and financial support, including Christmas in April, where he regularly volunteered his skills as a master carpenter. Along with his wife, Sheila, and children, Julian and Taylor, Wayne continued to reside in the County he loved, cherished, served, and proudly called “home” for a lifetime until his untimely passing in 2014.