Steve Gray Joins the Unemployment Insurance Team at NELP

Washington, DC—The National Employment Law Project (NELP) announces the hiring of Steve Gray as senior counsel on its Social Insurance Team. Steve will provide legal research, policy analysis, and legislative advocacy in the area of unemployment insurance (UI).

“We are thrilled Steve is joining NELP to bolster our UI work,” NELP Executive Director Rebecca Dixon said. “His extensive experience as a UI claimant advocate, academic, and state agency administrator makes him the perfect addition to join our UI reform efforts at this crucial time.”

NELP seeks to ensure that the United States upholds, for all workers, the promise of opportunity and economic security through work. NELP fights for policies to create good jobs, expand access to work, and strengthen protections and support for underpaid workers and unemployed workers.

“I am very excited to join the UI team at NELP and to get to work on strengthening our UI system,” Gray said. “The pandemic-induced economic crisis has exposed structural inequities in our unemployment insurance system. NELP has been a national leader on UI reform, and I look forward to working with the team and NELP partners to patch these holes and build a strong UI system.”

Gray was director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) from 2019 to 2020, where he led the Agency through one of the greatest economic crises of the past 100 years. During the first seven months of the pandemic, Michigan UIA paid out over $26 billion in benefits to almost three million workers. Economists have credited those benefits with making the Michigan economy a national leader in weathering the crisis.

In addition to his role with Michigan UIA, Gray served as a clinic assistant professor and director of the Unemployment Insurance Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School. For five years, he was the general manager of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project, a nonprofit he established to marshal law students to provide representation to jobless workers denied unemployment insurance. Prior to that, he was managing attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Program; senior attorney at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; managing attorney at Legal Services of Southern Michigan; and staff attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance. His primary areas of practice throughout his law career have been public benefits litigation and advocacy and administrative law.

Gray helped establish a legal aid clinical program and taught at the University of Namibia Law Faculty as a Fulbright Scholar in 2008–2009. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Huntington University and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois. He is licensed to practice law in Michigan.

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