Don Parkinson earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1964 and his master’s degree from Stanford University in 1977.After graduation in 1964, he joined Procter and Gamble in sales, and then spent 11 years with General Motors in field management and marketing in several cities around the country, serving as advertising manager of Pontiac and then the national sales promotion manager. Parkinson was recruited to Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1980, where he served as Senior Vice President of Operations and then as the Senior Vice President of Franchising. Retiring in 2000, Parkinson briefly served as the Interim CEO of the Kentucky Center of the Arts and then as the liaison for the arts for the Mayor of Louisville. He was recalled to KFC in 2004 for two years as a consultant on various issues. For the next several years he focused on charitable boards, including the Jewish Hospital Healthcare System and the Heuser Hearing Institute. In December 2015, Parkinson joined the new government administration in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet in Frankfort, Kentucky.