His first day as an actual resident in Reno Tray Abney met Chuck Norris. It was New Years Eve in 2006 and Tray took his wife to see Star Wars episode three at the old Park Lane Mall. He was walking around the corner and spotted two guys looking into the windows of a taekwondo school. Right as the men turned around, Tray recognized Chuck immediately and thought: well, Reno is definitely the place I’m supposed to be; meeting Chuck Norris is so much better than running into the President of the United States.
I knew it was the right decision to move to Reno when I met Chuck Norris on my first full day as an actual Nevada resident.
Tray is originally from Louisiana and at the age of eight he moved to Missouri when his Dad landed a new job. He started the third grade in Missouri and stayed through his undergraduate degree at Missouri State. Upon entering graduate school, Tray moved to D.C. to earn a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University and simultaneously began working on Capital Hill as a staffer in Jim Gibbon’s office.
Tray had never been to Nevada but visited the state for the first time in 2004 for a Gibbons staff retreat. They flew into Salt Lake City and drove across the state-line into Lamoille, Nevada. It wasn’t the Las Vegas strip but he spent time in Elko and Lamoille and completely loved it. To this day, Tray claims that his favorite part of our state are the eastern Nevada Ruby Mountains, followed by tasting picons at the Star Hotel.
My favorite part of Nevada are the Ruby Mountains followed by tasting picons at the Star Hotel.
Tray relocated his family to Northern Nevada to help Gibbons get elected into the Governorship in 2007. He was hired as the Governor’s legislative director and immediately after the session, Tray was offered the position to work as the Director of Government Relations for the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce and has worked in that position ever since. Something that brings both experiences full circle is the annual trip with the Nevada Mining Association that brings Tray into Elko every year for mining tours and picons at the Star.
Tray says that Reno is his favorite place he’s ever lived. He loves the work he does and knows that it’s important for our community, but he humbly explained that what he does is not as important as what the Chamber members do for economic development. Tray said that it’s important to realize it’s not about you; it’s about the community and those around you. For Tray, it’s about his wife and his six-year-old son and going to work everyday to make this community a better place to live.
What I do is not as important as what the Chamber members do who produce things that people want to buy. If I can help them make that easier, then I have been successful.
When I asked Tray about excellence, he talked about how important it is to listen more than you talk. A strength he relies on is empathy and recognizing that for every 100 people there are 100 different life experiences. He tries to understand where people come from so there’s a better chance of finding solutions for whatever problems people are facing. He said that one side of the political aisle doesn’t have all the answers. In politics, Tray seeks to align with people who are solution versus ideologically oriented.
For every 100 people there are 100 different life experiences.
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