Vincent C. Gray, Jon Ledecky to Receive Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degrees

Gray, a former mayor of D.C. and GW alumnus, and Ledecky, an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, will be honored at Commencement on the National Mall.

May 15, 2024

Honorary Degree recipients 2024 Vincent Gray and Jon Ledecky.

Vincent Gray (l) and Jon Ledecky will receive honorary Doctor of Public Service degrees at Commencement on the National Mall on May 19.

The George Washington University will award honorary Doctor of Public Service degrees to two individuals who have dedicated their professional lives to civic engagement, public service, business and philanthropy.

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, B.A. ’64, and entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Jon Ledecky will both receive their honorary degrees on Sunday at Commencement on the National Mall.

While earning a degree in clinical psychology at GW, Gray broke racial barriers in becoming the first Black student admitted in the GW fraternity system. He has been a steadfast advocate for the residents of his hometown of Washington, D.C., for decades.

In 2011, Gray became the sixth elected mayor of the District of Columbia. During his tenure, he prioritized restoring fiscal responsibility to city government, creating jobs and boosting economic development, providing a quality public education to all District children and building safe communities.

Prior to that, he represented his home Ward 7 on the D.C. Council after having first been elected in 2004. In 2006, he was elected council chair, where he championed efforts to reform D.C.’s public schools and to improve the council’s operations, transparency and oversight. He is the only elected official to serve as mayor, D.C. Council chair and council member.

In 2016, he was again elected to represent his home Ward 7. As chair of the council Committee on Health, he worked to make possible a new state-of-the-art hospital, the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, GW Health, that will deliver high-quality, comprehensive healthcare services to the citizens east of the Anacostia River. 

Gray has also been director of the D.C. Department of Human Services and was the founding executive director of Covenant House Washington, an international, faith-based organization dedicated to serving homeless and at-risk youth. Gray began his career at the Arc of DC, a community- based nonprofit that promotes and protects the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Jon Ledecky, who served on the GW Board of Trustees for five years, founded U.S. Office Products in 1994. In just three years, the Washington based company secured a place on the Fortune 500 with annualized sales of nearly $4 billion. He is currently the co-owner of the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders. Ledecky previously was a co-owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics with legendary Washington businessman Ted Leonsis.

Ledecky lends his considerable business acumen and experience to entrepreneurial companies nationwide as an investor and mentor. He has served on more than 20 public company boards and has helped to raise over $25 billion in financing for those companies. He has also held leadership positions on the National Commission on Entrepreneurship and at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Ledecky also started a Foundation dedicated to the education of underprivileged children. The Foundation provided grants to over 100 organizations serving children and young adults in the DMV region while helping to open and support independent schools for inner-city students in Washington, New York, and Boston. The Harvard College and Harvard Business School graduate has also been a trustee of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, an organization he knows firsthand through his niece, 10-time Olympic medalist and nearby Bethesda, Md., native Katie Ledecky.

The university previously announced that Jen Psaki, the former White House press secretary, Obama and Biden administration adviser and host of MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki,” will be this year’s Commencement speaker and will also receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service.