Robert Bray is a communicator of conscience whose career spans more than three decades in the field of strategic communications and social justice. He is a nationally recognized senior communications strategist, media movement builder, trainer, philanthropy advisor and communications professional. His work focuses on the convergence of communications, organizing, movement building, leadership development, policy advocacy and philanthropy to create positive social change. He has created enduring resources that grow the capacity of public interest organizations to articulate their values and messages and give voice to those most affected or disenfranchised. Bray’s work on behalf of foundations and nonprofit advocacy groups has enhanced the ability to shape public opinion, inform the debate on the issues of our times, and strengthen democracy.
Bray is director of communications for NEO Philanthropy, a leading philanthropic intermediary. There he has overseen the organization’s communications around diversity, equity and inclusivity; strategic planning; mission, vision and values; and programmatic work of NEO’s collaborative funds including the State Infrastructure Fund (SIF) which focuses on democracy and elections integrity; Four Freedoms Fund (FFF) and Anti-Trafficking Fund (ATF). He was program officer of the FFF Communications Initiative, housed at NEO, starting in 2007. FFF focuses on supporting organizations championing comprehensive immigration rights, reform and integration.
Prior to NEO, Bray was director of communications for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, a private family foundation based in San Francisco. In 1997, Bray founded the SPIN Project, a media training, coaching and strategizing nonprofit for social change organizations. Because of his leadership at SPIN, Bray was invited by the Ford Foundation to be a senior advisor on the creation of the first-ever nonprofit communications capacity building organization in Israel, called AGENDA. During numerous trips to the Middle East, Bray advised and trained Jewish and Palestinian advocates working for social justice and peace.
In the late 80’s and 90’s Bray played a central role in increasing the media visibility of LGBTQ people after coming out as gay himself in the national media. He was the first director of communications for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and subsequently directed communications for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In that capacity he developed and implemented media strategies and tactics for some of the most controversial and pathfinding legislation affecting the rights of queer Americans, including Hate Crimes, AIDS and HIV, gays in the military and marriage equality.
Bray is the author of several publications on communications, including the media guidebook “SPIN Works;” “Winning Wages,” a toolkit for using communications to achieve living wages and economic justice; and was a contributing author to “Lightning in a Bottle: Building Lasting Growth From Viral Moments,” a 2021 primer on communications and fundraising produced in conjunction with the Haas Leadership Initiatives. Prior to starting his social justice career, Bray was a public relations executive for the IBM Corporation