On January 2, 2011, Vincent C. Gray was sworn in as the sixth elected Mayor of the District of Columbia. He was overwhelmingly elected on November 2, 2010, garnering nearly 75 percent of the vote. During his campaign, he pledged to help unite the District by focusing on job creation and economic development, a collaborative approach to school reform, safer streets in all neighborhoods and restoring fiscal responsibility to city government.
The Gray Administration is moving forward in accomplishing the Mayor’s four top priorities: ensuring a quality public education for all District children, creating jobs and providing economic development opportunities for District residents, making sure residents are and feel safe no matter what neighborhood in which they live, and ensuring that the city is fiscally sound. Mayor Gray also is focused on achieving autonomy and full democracy for District of Columbia taxpayers, and improving health outcomes.
A native Washingtonian, Mayor Gray has tirelessly advocated for the residents of the District for more than 30 years. His dedication to children and their families has been the hallmark of his service in both city government and the non-profit sector. His lifetime of public service to the District can be best summed up by a singular governing philosophy—that the District of Columbia works best as "One City."
His disciplined approach to public service was born from humble beginnings. He grew up in a one-bedroom apartment at 6th and L Streets, NE. Although his parents never attended high school, they instilled in their son a solid work ethic and deeply rooted values. Mayor Gray attended Logan Elementary and Langley Junior High Schools, and graduated at the age of 16 from Dunbar High School, where he excelled in academics and sports.
Despite being scouted by two Major League Baseball teams, the Mayor chose to continue his education, studying psychology at The George Washington University at both the undergraduate and graduate school levels. While at George Washington, he became the first African-American admitted in the GW fraternity system, and in his junior and senior years, became the first person to serve consecutive terms as Chancellor of Tau Epsilon Phi.
Vincent C. Gray began his professional career with The Arc of DC (then known as the Association of Retarded Citizens). At The Arc, he successfully advocated for innovative policy initiatives on behalf of people with developmental disabilities, and spearheaded the closure of the District-run Forest Haven mental institution, after it was exposed for poor conditions and abuse of patients.
In 1991, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly appointed Gray to the post of Director of the Department of Human Services. As Director, he oversaw the functions of a 7,000 person department and directed activities related to Public Health, Social Services, Mental Health Services and Health Care Finance. In this role, the Mayor spearheaded the implementation of several initiatives to address the developmental needs of children.
In December 1994, he was named the first Executive Director of Covenant House Washington, an international, faith-based organization dedicated to serving homeless and at-risk youth. During his decade at the helm of Covenant House, Mayor Gray helped make the organization one of the most effective of its kind in the District, and led successful campaigns to purchase and renovate a crisis center for homeless youth and a multi-purpose center and to build a new community service center in the far southeast community of the District of Columbia.
Mayor Gray’s dedication to his community and the residents of Ward 7 inspired a successful campaign for elected office in 2004, when he handily defeated the incumbent in the primary. During his first term as Councilmember from Ward 7, he chaired a Special Committee on the Prevention of Youth Violence, and created the Effi Barry HIV/AIDS initiative. Two years after joining the Council, Gray ran for the citywide office of Chairman of the Council. Running on the theme of “One City,” he continued his focus on uniting the disparate racial and economic groups in his hometown. He won the general election with 98 percent of the vote.
As Chairman, Gray was a leader in efforts to improve the Council’s operations, transparency and oversight capacity, and was a true champion for school reform. He spearheaded the Pre-K Expansion and Enhancement Act, which established a voluntary, high-quality pre-school program to provide 2,000 new classroom slots for three-and four-year-olds over six years. The Mayor’s diligence resulted in that goal being met in September of 2010, well before the 2014 target.
Mayor Gray has lived in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Ward 7 for more than 25 years. His wife, Loretta, an outstanding educator in the DC Public Schools, passed away from cancer in 1998. He has two children, Jonice Gray Tucker and Vincent Carlos Gray, and two grandchildren.