Ray Jefferson, leadership consultant and former government executive
|Education||U.S. Military Academy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Business School|
Ray Jefferson is the President of Jefferson Group, and is a leadership practitioner, speaker, and consultant to senior executives and major companies and organizations around the world. Known for his work in organizational transformation, performance improvement, inspirational leadership, and team development Jefferson served as an official and head of a national agency in the administration of President Barack Obama and has held other leadership positions in the military and government sectors. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army's Presidential Honor Guard, 3rd Ranger Battalion (75th Ranger Regiment), and Special Forces (1st Special Forces Group). Ray is a member of the Asia Society, the Fulbright Association, the NAACP, the 75th Ranger Regiment Association, and the Special Forces Association. He was born and raised in Guilderland, New York, and now lives in Singapore, and considers home to be Honolulu, Hawaii.
Jefferson graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a major in leadership in 1988. He served as an Army Officer with the infantry, Rangers and Special Forces, with leadership positions in the U.S. Presidential Honor Guard, 3rd Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group. He served in Unit as Commander (A-Team), 1st Special Forces Group, Okinawa, Japan; Unit Commander, 3rd Ranger Battalion, Fort Benning, GA; and Unit Commander, Presidential Honor Guard, Washington, DC.
In 1999, he lost all five fingers on his left hand while attempting to protect his teammates from a hand grenade detonating prematurely during classified Special Forces training.
After recuperating in Hawaii, Ray attended Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, earning a Master of Public Administration in Strategic Management (MPA) with Distinction as a Littauer Fellow. He then earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and was recognized with the Dean's Award for exceptional leadership and service.
Upon graduation, he was selected as a White House Fellow and worked as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Jefferson then served as a Fulbright Fellow in Singapore, where he studied leadership within Asian contexts (2001–2002).
From 2003–2004, he served as Deputy Director, State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), Honolulu. DBEDT’s mission involves creating jobs, facilitating business development, diversifying the economy and creating renewable energy initiatives. While at DBEDT, Ray Jefferson co-led the organizational transformation for a department of over 230 team members with an operating budget of $182 million.
Jefferson then went on to become a Leadership Consultant with McKinsey & Company in Singapore (2006 – 2008) where he created and delivered leadership training and development programs for clients and offices throughout Asia. His focus areas were organizational change, inspirational leadership, top team development and peak performance.
On August 10, 2009, Raymond Jefferson was appointed to the role of U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the US Department of Labor by President Barack Obama.
While serving in this position, Jefferson implemented methods to accelerate the agency, which allowed it to achieve its goals quicker. This involved raising awareness of the employment situation for veterans in the armed forces in rural areas of America. This was planned to overhaul the Transition Assistance Program that was in place at the time. One of those initiatives was applying talent development best practices to achieve results in securing meaningful employment for veterans. The work he carried out was acknowledged in Fortune & Forbes Magazines, along with Bloomberg Businessweek. Jefferson was praised for his leadership at VETS by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “He has worked tirelessly for the last 18, 19 months,” she said. “I know that we have much more to accomplish, but under his leadership I know we can bring so many more people together to understand the importance and sacrifices of our veterans, their families and their communities."
On May 6, 2010, Ray Jefferson launched a "100-Day Sprint" that included deadlines for specific goals to be met within the agency. The sprint focused on achieving dramatic improvement in four primary areas: improving new programs, launching new initiatives, improving management practices in the agency, and developing talent in the agency. The VETS team, led by Jefferson, set forth 22 goals in 4 areas and reached all goals within the 100-Day Sprint deadline of August 13, 2010.
During his time at VETS, his achievements were discussed in various publications, including Forbes. Jefferson was selected by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell as one of the two inaugural recipients of the Harrison H. Schmitt Fulbright Alumni Leadership Award for dedication to public service.
Ray Jefferson’s work and achievements at the agency were studied by business in government experts Paul R. Lawrence and Mark A. Abramson and published in their book Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government.
Jefferson resigned from his position as Assistant Secretary at the Department of Labor on July 25, 2011, following accusations that he violated federal procurement rules. Peter Choharis, the lawyer representing Jefferson after the allegations said the findings relied on hearsay and had many internal inconsistencies and contradictions. An Inspector General's report alleged there were complaints by employees and government contractors that Jefferson violated procurement policies associated with directing VETS employees into awarding contracts to management consultant Stewart Liff. According to the Washington Post, Jefferson denied giving any special treatment for Liff, telling investigators that he believed Liff could help transform the culture at VETS. In a separate response, Liff asserted he received no special treatment and conformed to all government contracting requirements and work performance.
- "HR 'Can Help Heal Our Country'". 23 November 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- "U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Veterans Services to Speak at Columbia University School of Social Work Commencement". Columbia University. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- "Ray Jefferson". McKinsey. 6 August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 December 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
- GOVERNOR LINGLE APPOINTS RAY JEFFERSON AS DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF DBEDT, archive.lingle.hawaii.gov
- NOMINATION HEARINGS OF THE 111TH CONGRESS: PART 2, www.gpo.gov
- Sports And Helping Military Veterans Transition To The Private Sector, www.forbes.com
- In Your Corner, www.gijobs.com
- Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government
- The Business Case for Hiring Vets
- Jefferson wins leadership award, www.bizjournals.com
- Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Honors Two U.S. Veterans with First Harrison H. Schmitt Leadership Awards for Fulbright Alumni
- Bill Lambrecht (28 July 2011). "McCaskill criticizes Labor Department contracting 'boondoggle'". St Louis Today. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- Steve Vogel (28 July 2011). "Raymond Jefferson leaves Labor Department after ethics finding". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- Steve Vogel (28 July 2011). "Obama appointee at Labor resigns after ethics probe". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 October 2011.