Editor’s Note: G.C. Murray II will be recognized as the Graham Center’s 2020 Brian Dassler Young Floridian of the Year on Oct. 16 at 11 am. Register for the program at this link:
By Andy Shodell, Graham Center communications intern
At the age of 33, G.C. Murray II, Esq. has already built literal and figurative foundations to bring real-life benefits directly to underserved segments of society. Implementing progressive ideas and bold actions, Murray founded the Innovative Community Engagement Foundation in 2014, structured around mentorship, service, and professional development. Murray is currently president of the nonprofit.
According to Florida Rep. Ramon Alexander of Gadsden and Leon counties, “G.C. Murray is a champion for change and there is a great intersection between his work and the Bob Graham Center’s mission and purpose. It is not only his efforts to give back to those less fortunate, but his determination to inspire others to do the same and build our communities from the inside out.”
One example of Murray’s work through the ICE Foundation is the K-12 ‘JD Career Day.’ Murray brings groups of professionals under the JD degree umbrella to K-12 students in the communities that can benefit most from what Murray and his partners have learned by experience. Since the first JD Career Day in 2014, Murray has impacted 445 students in the Tallahassee area and 400 students in the Gulf area through the program.
The concept behind it highlights the fact that a child’s imagination is intertwined with the “nature” and “nurture” of their upbringing. There are many communities lacking resources that can help young students stay motivated through their most formative years, and ensure that they are exposed to every career path that they can imagine — such as the legal profession.
One of the greatest benefits of JD Career Day is that there is nothing ‘short-term’ about its impact. By laying the groundwork of materials, professionals, and information, Murray ensures that these students will have more possibilities as they grow up. Every student who becomes involved in the law because of G.C. is invaluable for the future of the country. Any number of these hundreds of students may become the leaders of a generation that brings more justice to our malfunctioning criminal processing system.
JD Career Day is just one of the many programs organized by Murray and the ICE Foundation. At such a young age, Murray is already working toward lasting change all over Florida, and in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Another ICE initiative, the ‘Backpack Bash,’ has provided requisite supplies to thousands of students in families with low resources. A third project, ‘When No One is Looking,’ has raised more than $10,000-worth of clothing and food for families that need them.
There are 15 more ICE Foundation projects that are actively helping people where it is most needed. More information about these is available on the ICE Foundation’s website.
Besides the ICE Foundation, Murray works as president and CEO of a service group called Association GC, with the goal of “Achieving Greater Change” through assisting nonprofits. Murray and his team employ their professional legal backgrounds to help up-and-coming nonprofits become successful in their goals.
One unique quality of Murray’s is his ability to be genuine and inspiring when talking to groups of listeners. When Murray speaks, his words bear the wisdom of his experiences. At a Diversity Symposium in September 2019, Murray told the story of being the first Black attorney hired by the Florida Justice Association in its over 50-year history. Murray noticed that the FJA’s homogeneity was not the result of any deliberate suppression of diversity; when Murray presented ideas to change the FJA’s outreach methods, his coworkers embraced the suggestions. Murray realized that the root cause of the lack of diversity he encountered was a lack of exposure — the fact that there had been no Black attorneys before him to show where the firm was struggling with inclusivity. He says, “The more voices and the more perspectives you bring to the table, the better the outcome, unequivocally, every time, all the time.”
G.C. Murray II is a service-minded leader who has dedicated his skills and passion to helping strangers without expecting any recognition in return. This is all the more reason why he is the 2020 Brian Dassler Young Floridian of the Year. Genuine service can be hard to come by, and G.C. Murray helps to give hope that future generations will be more educated, equitable, and proactive.