Growing up in Maryland
Ray attended Maryland public schools throughout his life. As a child he was active in scouting (achieving the rank of Eagle Scout), and attended church regularly. He remembers regularly driving with his parents and siblings to drop recyclables off at a central collection facility before there was curbside pick-up.
Two days before his twelfth birthday, Ray was in a serious car accident. His father was killed, and Ray spent months recovering. He wouldn’t be alive today without the assistance of a seat belt and the amazing work of first responders and many medical professionals.
Ray learned a lot from his mom about love, hard work, and perseverance as she worked hard to raise her three children as a single parent. He also saw the importance of strong communities, as countless people showed their love and support of his family during these difficult times.
In high school, Ray wrote letters to his representatives in order to advocate for justice issues. One representative responded and helped Ray write a speech for the Student Government Association (SGA) election, which Ray won.
A Student at The University of Maryland, College Park
Ray continued to be extremely active in campus and community life. He was the student leader for a mentoring program for at-risk elementary school students in Langley Park and served as a tutor for children in another program. He continues to oversee these programs to this day. He was active as a legislator in the SGA and half a dozen student groups, and helped found a dodgeball club.
He also interned in Annapolis at the State House, helping with legislation and testifying before committees on bills related to health care and the environment. By graduation he had been inducted into two honor societies, Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa.
After college, Ray served a year in Argentina at a church in Quilmes, helping children with reading and school work, and serving at an ecumenical human rights organization. There he became fluent in Spanish, taught kids how to play baseball and basketball, became extremely close to his host family and community, and learned to tango. He also instantly became one of the tallest people in the country – or so it seemed.
After serving in an interim position at the University of Maryland in student affairs, Ray spent the better part of the next two years abroad serving with different non-governmental organizations, mostly working with children. It was during his time serving in Jerusalem that he met and fell in love with Karin Brown, who spent much of her childhood in nearby Silver Spring.
Coming Back to District 21
Ray returned to the United States and entered seminary. During his internship year he lived in Odenton in the Piney Orchard Community, and immediately after seminary he became the Lutheran chaplain at the University of Maryland. Ray and Karin were married in 2011, just a week after they both finished graduate school. They bought a house in College Park, and have two children who love to take walks around Lake Artemesia. Ray enjoys co-oping at Lucia’s (3) nursery school, playing hide-and-go-seek with David (1), and singing and dancing with both of them!
On Campus and in the Community
Serving on campus and at a nearby church, Ray’s work touches a lot of community areas. He took the lead in restarting his local neighborhood association and especially enjoys working with residents, students, staff, and faculty to:
- help local elementary school children
- support veterans
- build inter-faith learning groups
- care for a local stream
- supply filled backpacks and warm coats to local schools
- encourage community engagement
- support victims of human trafficking
- lead student learning trips around race, poverty, homelessness, Native American culture, and more
The thing that gives Ray the most fulfillment in his work, though, is being present with all different kinds of people who live in this district. He accompanies people as they get a job and buy a house, welcome a child into the world, graduate, experience acts of kindness and when they get married. He also walks with people as they say goodbye to loved ones, struggle with depression and anxiety, as relationships end, when they experience sexual assault, struggle to find healthcare, food, or a job and as they search for a sense of meaning and purpose. He stands up with people as they face deportation hearings, as they march for justice, and as they work to build a better future for our neighborhoods.
These experiences have helped shape Ray and will continue to drive him to serve the district and the state of Maryland in Annapolis.