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Labor and Economic Opportunity

New director selected to lead Unemployment Insurance Agency

Erica Quealy, 517-582-2961

Monday, May 6, 2019

LANSING, Mich.—Steve Gray, 57, a professor and attorney with 30 years of expertise in unemployment insurance and administrative law, has been selected to lead Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA).

“It’s an honor to have someone with such intense dedication and understanding of Michigan’s unemployment system stepping up to lead the Unemployment Insurance Agency,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, Talent and Economic Development Department Acting Director. “I look forward to his ongoing commitment and expertise in serving Michigan employers and residents seeking assistance on their journey back toward employment.”

Gray, who will kick off his new role leading UIA on June 3, served as an integral member of the bi-partisan legislative workgroup responsible for creating an eight-bill package aimed at improving Michigan's UIA system and the customer experience. All eight bills were effective in early 2018.

“Layoffs and closures are often a challenging time for those affected by the unexpected turn in tide,” Gray said. “As director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency, I am committed to continual growth and improvement in the approach and policy that protects and serves both Michigan employees and their employers so they can easily and effectively navigate these waters.”

Gray, a Flint native and 20-year resident of Ypsilanti, is director and founder of the University of Michigan Law School Unemployment Insurance Clinic that uses student representation in unemployment insurance cases to train over 150 first-year law students per year. Gray is also a faculty expert affiliate with the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions initiative and associate faculty with the African Studies Center.

He also served as the general manager of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project, a nonprofit organization he established to assist law students providing representation to jobless workers who are denied unemployment insurance.

Gray's primary focus throughout his legal aid career has been public benefits litigation and advocacy and administrative law. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law, taught and helped establish a legal aid clinical program at the University of Namibia Law School as a Fulbright Scholar. 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. ​

The Unemployment Insurance Agency provides temporary income to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own, in situations like layoffs and plant closures. The program is funded through unemployment taxes paid by employers. UIA is part of the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan.