NEBIP Celebrates the Legacy of Renae Gray

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
     flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
     went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
     bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

- Langston Hughes 

It is with a heavy heart that we celebrate the life and legacy of Renae Gray, who passed on January 24, 2017.  Ms. Gray’s presence was deep like a river of social justice that flowed throughout our communities and organizations.  She served on the Board of Directors of New England Blacks in Philanthropy (NEBiP) for the past seven years and has served in a plethora of leadership positions in the philanthropic community.  She was also the former Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund.

As an educator and community activist, Ms. Gray provided training and consultation on issues of race, class, and gender and was committed to social and economic justice, including eliminating violence against women and empowerment of African-American women.  In 2010 The YWCA Cambridge honored Ms. Gray as the recipient of the Lieutenant Kenney Award, which is given each year to a Cantabrigian who most embodies the spirit, values, and devotion of John Kenney, a Cambridge police officer who was committed and involved in working for the safety and prosperity of Area 4.

In addition to serving on the YWCA Cambridge Board of Trustees, Ms. Gray was a Board member of Cambridge Health Alliance. She was celebrated and recognized for her work as a Cambridge Area IV activist and as an advocate for women and those affected by domestic violence, both locally and in South Africa.  She was a co-founder of the Boston Women's Fund, where she served as Executive Director for five years. She was a member of the African American Heritage Committee, worked with Haymarket People’s Fund, where she provided leadership in the development of the fund and recently served in an advisory capacity until her demise.  She was a dedicated member of the Union Baptist Church of Cambridge and an active member of the Area IV for Peace group, and has served on many more community and advisory boards. 

Ms. Gray’s spirit, wisdom and reflective leadership through love enabled her to have a deep impact in the philanthropic social justice sphere.  She built bridges across generations, races and economic backgrounds.  She had the unique ability to turn frowns upside down with her African American folk wisdom and smile.  Being in her presence was a gift and provided a sense of deep, connected rivers of the past and the future of our better selves.  We will miss her and remember her as the embodiment of philanthropic assets of time, talent, and treasure.  

On behalf of NEBiP’s Board of Directors, staff and our community, we offer our heartfelt condolences to Michele, her daughter, and her family.  She nourished us and provided a deep well of support as our mentor, friend, and advisor.  We will miss her dearly.

Homegoing and Burial Services for Renae Gray
April 19, 1951 – January 24, 2017

Friday, February 3rd, 5pm-7pm
Wake and Funeral
St. Paul A.M.E. Church, 37 Bishop Allen Dr., Cambridge, MA

Saturday, February 4th, 9:15am
A.J. Spears Funeral Home 124 Western Avenue, Cambridge, MA
then proceed to Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave., Cambridge, MA

Saturday, February 4th, 11:30am
Christian Life Center, 85 Bishop Allen Dr., Cambridge, MA

In lieu of flowers the family asks that you send donations to:
Renae D. Gray Memorial Fund
c/o Eastern Bank
647 Massachusetts Ave. B161
Cambridge, MA  02139