Prior to founding the BradfordAdvocacyGroup, Ray was National Director of Policy & Diversity Advocacy for the 165,000-member labor union SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). As their primary liaison for many external organizations, he worked with the nationwide labor movement, and much of the AFL-CIO, its affiliate unions, state and local federations, the young workers movement, and others areas as needed. His principal passion, though, always rested in challenging discrimination and promoting inclusion in the workplace.
Ray served as AFTRA’s first and only National Director for Equal Employment Opportunities, a post he helped create in 1999 and held until the 2012 merger with SAG. In that position, he addressed the issues and concerns of the union’s women, seniors, people of color, minors, persons with disabilities and the LGBTQ community across all contract: television and new media performers, broadcast journalists and sound recording artists.
Of singular importance, he believes in the power of alliances and partnerships in furthering the vision of equal rights. Over his thirty years of involvement with AFTRA, as a member, elected leader and staff person, he grew and maintained strategic relationships with civil rights, diversity and advocacy organizations. For example, in 2009, he co-founded the Beverly Hills / Hollywood NAACP & AFTRA Entertainment Partnership and its “Profiles of Color” Panel Series.
For well over a decade, Bradford partnered with the AFL-CIO’s Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department, other affiliate unions’ civil or human rights directors and the federation’s Constituency Groups. One result of this collaboration was his part in drafting and helping pass “Resolution 18” at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention. Titled “Unions Should Give People with Disabilities a Voice and a Face”, this landmark disability rights resolution put the labor movement on record to diversify its membership, elected leaders and staff at all levels, and to encourage each union to negotiate strong and enforceable protections for workers with disabilities, as well as returning wounded warriors, into each collective bargaining agreement.
He previously lived and worked in Chicago for over 20 years appearing onstage, in commercials, and as an actor and program host on television. During that time, he also served AFTRA for more than 15 years as an unsalaried elected Local president, Second National Vice President and a Director on their National Board.
Hispanic Business Magazine named Ray Bradford one of the 100 Influential Hispanics in America, and he is listed in the Who’s Who Among Hispanic Americans. He is a past President of the Media Image Coalition, a program of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations and the first multiracial, multicultural and inter-religious media advocacy and education organization in the U.S. Over the years, he has facilitated strategic planning retreats for MIC, and is their current Treasurer. For his leadership and vision, he was honored with a 2009 Los Angeles County Volunteer of the Year citation.
Bradford currently participates in the following groups:
- National Executive Board of PRIDE AT WORK, the AFL-CIO Constituency Group working on behalf of LGBT workers’ rights and social justice.
- National Advisory Board of ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival, the largest national film festival dedicated to celebrating the lives, stories and art of people with disabilities.
- Advisory Board of the OPPORTUNITY LEAGUE, dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, especially children, in all aspects of recreation, fitness and sports.
- Advisory Council of The Actors’ Fund LOOKING AHEAD PROGRAM, created to help professional young performers and their families thrive amid the unique challenges of working in the entertainment community.
- Founding member and Recording Secretary of the MEDIA ACCESS TASK FORCE, created to explore pathways toward increasing equal access to employment opportunities for people with disabilities within the media and entertainment industry.
- Treasurer and past-president of the MEDIA IMAGE COALITION, a program of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.
Ray Bradford is also a Lifetime Member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and served on NLGJA’s Board of Directors.