Professional and community activities:
Gloria D. Gray is the immediate past chairwoman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors. She was the first African-American to lead the board, from January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2022, and only the second woman to do so in the district’s 90-year history.
After retiring as a health care administrator from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Gray began her career in water in 2006 when she was elected to the West Basin Municipal Water District Board of Directors. She was the first African-American woman elected to that board in its 65 years and served as board president in 2010. She represents the Division II cities and communities of Inglewood, South Ladera Heights, Lennox and the areas of Athens, Howard, and Ross-Sexton.
In 2009, Gray was appointed as one of West Basin’s two representatives to Metropolitan’s board. In 2017, Gray was appointed chair of the Water Planning and Stewardship Committee and was the first African-American woman to lead the committee, which focuses on Metropolitan water projects, programs, and policies.
An Inglewood resident, Gray got her start in public service in 1995 when she was elected to the Inglewood Unified School District Board of Education, serving as president for two terms. In March 2009, she was appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to serve on its Water Quality Community Task Force, part of the county’s Clean Water, Clean Beaches initiative to address pollution in local rivers, lakes, bays, beaches, and coastal waters.
In April 2010, Gray was appointed to a four-year term on the Delta Stewardship Council by former California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. She was the first African-American and the first woman to serve on the council. In 2011, she met with stakeholders from all areas of the state and recommended the Delta Council hold public forums to gain broader input and understanding of key issues in order to develop a comprehensive Delta Plan.
In May 2012, she was confirmed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as a member of the Oversight Commission for the dissolution of the city of Carson’s Redevelopment Agency. In 2013, she was recruited by President Obama’s administration to interview for a cabinet position in the Department of the Interior.
In 2014, West Basin’s Board of Directors appointed Gray as their representative to the Association of California Water Agencies Region 8, where she currently serves as chair as well as a representative to the ACWA Joint Powers Insurance Authority. She also was appointed to represent West Basin as a voting board member on the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. . During her first term for West Basin, Gray initiated West Basin’s Local Business Enterprise Program and Local Banking Program that allows local businesses to better compete for work and enhances the local community within West Basin’s service area.
In October 2012, Gray received the “Honorable Harriett Wieder” award for her leadership in water from the Southern California Water Committee. She also has been honored by the Friends of the Sisters at the Well for her leadership in civic and public engagement, and the Friends of Ballona Wetlands for her leadership on current and future water supply issues.
In 2018, Gray was recognized for her work in the water industry as Visionary of the Year by Playa Vista Jobs. In 2017, Gray received the Esther Williams Award of Excellence for her continued commitment to community service and water reliability from the South Bay Workforce Investment Board. In recognition of her commitment to community service, Gray received an acknowledgement proclamation from Metropolitan’s Board for her work and outstanding leadership on the Delta Stewardship Council, and later received the 2014 African Legacy Award as the first African-American woman to be elected to Metropolitan’s Board. Among her other notable honors are the Outstanding Community Honoree award from the A-Man, Inc. STEM International in June 2013 and induction into the National Association of University Women’s Hall of Fame for exceptional leadership in March 2013. Over the years, she has received commendations from former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, senators, members of Congress, and many other state and local elected officials.
Since taking office as Metropolitan’s chairwoman, Gray has been honored by numerous organizations, including the California Black Chamber of Commerce and several Southern California water agencies. She also has been honored by the Los Angeles City Council and was recognized by the region’s small business community at the Meet the Decision Makers Event for her significant contributions to the water industry. In 2019, Gray was honored by Labor 411 Foundation, which supports the creation and preservation of union jobs. The Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce recognized and awarded Gray for her outstanding contributions that have led to the overall economic development of African-American businesses. As part of Black History Month in 2019, Gray was honored along with Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Wiggins by the two organizations’ Black Employees associations for their leadership and commitment in water and the transportation industry.
Gray was one of 25 women from around the world recognized in a social media campaign by Suez Water on International Women’s Day 2019. The National Association of Water Agencies honored Gray at a reception at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., and she was invited to join with other top water leaders as a featured panelist at the California Water Policy conference. Gray also was honored by the non-profit Pacoima Beautiful as a long-time champion of environmental justice issues. In 2020, Gray was recognized by the League of Women Voters for her community engagement and leadership as a woman of color.
Chairwoman Gray and Metropolitan were recognized by the international water community in 2022 when she was invited to attend the Global Water Summit. There, she made a presentation highlighting Metropolitan’s key water innovations and participated in the inauguration of Metropolitan into a select group of agencies given the distinction of Leading Water Utilities of the World. Also in 2022, Gray was one of the first signatories to the Equity in Infrastructure Program, a new nationwide effort to leverage infrastructure spending and create more prime, joint venture and equity contracting opportunities for historically underutilized businesses
Gray has been interviewed and profiled in multiple publications, including the Municipal Water Leader Magazine, Bloomberg Environment, the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper, and LA Focus magazine.
In 2019, Gray was honored by Delta Sigma Theta, the nation’s largest African-American sorority public service organization, was the recipient of Leadership California’s 2019 Legacy of Service Award for her extraordinary leadership in the public sector, and by the Women in Water organization of the Association of California Water Agencies. Most recently, Gray was honored with the Los Angeles County Business Federation’s Bizzi award for her advocacy for common sense solutions to the communities’ most pressing issues and her commitment to growing the economy and improving quality of life.
Demonstrating her support for and mentorship of young women, Chairwoman Gray has worked with representatives from the DIY (Do it Yourself) Girls organization to increase girls’ interest and success in technology and engineering, and with members of the Blythe 4-H Youth Development program to address community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse and advocating for equity and inclusion for all.
A longtime supporter of organized labor and an advocate for the rights of workers, Gray was a member of SEIU 721, the largest public sector union in Southern California, for more than 30 years.
Additionally, Gray has taken multiple leadership roles in the water community outside of her role as Chairwoman of Metropolitan’s board. She is vice chair of the Southern California Leadership Council Executive Committee and co-chair of the BizFed Water Committee.
Gray earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Redlands; a Health Services Management Certificate from the University of California, Los Angeles; and a Masters in Governance Certificate from the California School Boards Association.