Summer 1985, upon the return of the first OU summer journey.  Loree Jones OU '85 with Co-Founders Rep. William H. Gray III and George M. Ross z''l.

The passing of Operation Understanding co-founder
Rep. William H. Gray III

The entire Operation Understanding community is deeply saddened by the untimely passing of OU co-founder Rep. William H. Gray, III on Monday, July 1st, 2013 at the age of 71.

Congressman Gray believed in the energy and creativity of young people to create positive change and lead progress in the City of Philadelphia, a city that will continue to benefit from his good works.  His leadership has influenced each successive class of Operation Understanding to fulfill the original mission he and George Ross set out to achieve. OU makes a difference, the experiment worked.  OU creates leaders with attention for diversity which serves as a foundation for the leadership roles they inevitably inhabit during their lifetimes.  In addition, participants create life-long relationships, allies, which serve them as they go from classroom to board room and beyond.

After 28 years, we were proud that Congressman Gray continued to champion the relationship of the African American and Jewish communities through the work of OU. We honor his legacy by continuing to develop compassionate, knowledgeable individuals who are ready to serve, prepared to lead and eager to make a difference.

Our community has lost a great leader.  Our thoughts are with his family, dear friends and the many he mentored both in OU and the wider community.


January 10th, 2013: Rep. William H. Gray III receiving George M. Ross Award for Service & Leadership from former Co-President, Michael Ross.