EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE
Melanie Gray, B.A. ’78
When she was seven years old, Melanie Gray knew she wanted to become a lawyer. The Parish, N.Y., native has established herself not only as one of Houston’s most prominent litigation attorneys, but also as a community leader. “Melanie works tirelessly in the Houston Community to assure that the rights of women and girls are protected,” said Rita Kirkup, Girls Inc. of Greater Houston CEO. “Her philanthropy and passion are unparalleled.”
Gray earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University at Albany in 1978. She graduated with honors from Syracuse University College of Law in 1981 and began her legal career in Chicago. In 1985, Gray relocated to Houston where she is a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP and chairs the firm’s bankruptcy litigation practice. A prominent litigation attorney with expertise in complex bankruptcy cases, she was a lead attorney in Enron’s bankruptcy. Gray has served on numerous legal organizations, including the Houston Bar Foundation board and the Interdisciplinary Committee on Law and Accounting of the Houston Bar Association. She is a member of the Texas and American Bar Foundations and is a founding member of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas School of Law.
While leading an extremely successful legal career, Gray provides an astounding level of service to organizations benefiting the advancement of women and girls. She has been involved with Girls Inc. of Greater Houston since its inception in 1996 and currently serves as chair of the national organization. Gray chaired a $15 million capital campaign for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which helped fund the construction of a state-of-the-art healthcare center in Houston. She and her husband sponsor the Gray/Wawro Lectures in Gender, Health and Wellbeing at Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality. Gray also serves on the boards of Baylor College of Medicine, the Foundation for Jones Hall, and the Greater Houston Women’s Center.
Education and arts organizations also have benefited from Gray’s service. A dedicated Syracuse University alumna, she serves as a university trustee and on the school’s College of Law advisory board. As trustee and campaign co-chair, she aided Syracuse University in raising $1 billion between 2007 and 2012. Gray just completed her service as vice chair of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and chair of the Society for the Performing Arts in Houston (SPA). Her generosity has enabled SPA to fund award-winning education and community education programs for the Greater Houston area.
Gray has been honored numerous times for her professional and community service, yet remains gracious and humble. Most recently, she was named a Litigation Counsel of America fellow for her exceptional accomplishments in litigation and superior ethical reputation. Gray was the 2011 recipient of the Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Alumna Achievement Award. She has been recognized as one of Houston’s most influential and powerful women by Houston Woman Magazine and Texas Diversity Magazine. “Melanie has a deep and genuine care for the education of our society and believes it's a right of all to have access to education," said UAlbany development officer Michael Boots. “I am so proud to know her.”