Todd Gray: A Servant Leader
By Katrice L. Mines
To say that one has roots in entrepreneurship and service may sound cliché, but Todd Gray can decisively substantiate that part of his story. Gray’s great aunt and uncle were entrepreneurs who owned Lee’s Inn and Club 604 near what was at the time Ashby Street in the ‘40s and ’50s and where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and entertainers like Lena Horne and Piano Red often gathered. There was little divide between the couple’s business and civic minds. Observing their immersion in community as well as that of his parents seeded in Gray a like-attentiveness.
The Atlanta native is the director of Supplier Diversity for Grady Health System where he oversees sourcing, contract management, system wide development, implementation and the facilitation of proactive programming which encourages the use of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBT-owned, service disabled veteran owned, and historically underutilized business. As well, his passion for the field and its undergirding premise of equity has spilled into how he gives back. Gray has partnered, over the past decade, with the State of Georgia’s Mentor/Protégé Program as a mentor for small businesses and supports youth minority entrepreneurship through the Greater Atlanta Economic Alliance Construction Skills Development Institute and other organizations that provide current and future entrepreneurs with education, awareness and technical assistance.
“My passion throughout my career regardless of role or title has been rooted in servant leadership,” he surmises. “Serving my community has evolved and integrated into my professional career.”
In 12 years, Gray has been able to leave a thumbprint on the Diversity and Inclusion, and Supplier Diversity sectors by seizing the opportunity to roll up his sleeves with diverse suppliers and witness them grow and create jobs in Atlanta and across the country. Since joining Grady in 2013, he has helped to develop its supplier diversity program to become one of the top in the healthcare industry. In 2016, Grady was named the Corporation of the Year by the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, and in recent years, Gray has been named Advocate of the Year by the Greater Women’s Business Council, and the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council. “The economic impact of that effort has created countless jobs and quality of life access for so many in the city of Atlanta and across the state,” he says.
But the trajectory up has not always been smooth sailing; perspective has made all the difference. “My life is a true testament that storms are beautiful, and if you stay focused, positive, and faithful, you will come out closer to your purpose, and even prepared for the journey.”
One storm Gray can personally reference was 10 years ago, early in his career, when the division he was a part of with a major bank was being outsourced. Prior to that, however, he had volunteered for the company’s Corporate Diversity Leadership committee. It was a point of entry that not only allowed him to avoid an inevitable layoff, but also was a defining moment for him in realizing his purpose in diversity and inclusion. “That has been my driving force ever since.”
Prior to joining Grady Health System, Gray served as Supplier Diversity manager for CVS Caremark and assistant vice president of Wachovia and Wells Fargo Corporate Supplier Diversity.
His life hack of choice for staying at his best: Cycling. “I fell in love with it a couple a years ago and I call it medicine on wheels. When I’m out in the community on my bike, whether on a casual ride or a quick ride from Ponce City Market to Stone Mountain and back, it’s an activity that helps me build mental and physical strength.”
Gray contributes civic leadership by serving on the City of Atlanta’s Board of Ethics, as vice-chair of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council’s Board of Directors, the Atlanta Business League Board, and The Villages at Carver Family YMCA Board. As well, he founded an Atlanta community youth development initiative for young men ages 12-17 called P.O.L.I.S.H.E.D. to help young men in the Atlanta Community develop life, social and community involvement skills through tutoring and mentorship. And also The Gray Impact, which he shares is driven by a desire to help others achieve social and economic equity with purpose.
“I’ve always valued the principle of stewardship, but I now find different ways in my life to exercise it on a day-to-day basis. Through this, I’m able to shift my perspective globally enough to understand all the inner workings, but micro enough to know how to motivate and influence change. And equity, at all levels for me, is a critical factor in assuring the vibrancy of our communities. I measure each of my efforts by how it will engage, empower and inspire others.” AT