Naomi T. Gray was born Naomi Jean Thomas on May 18, 1922, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Graduating from Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, Gray earned her B.S. degree in sociology from Hampton University in 1945, and three years later, earned her M.S. degree from Indiana University in Indianapolis.
A caseworker in the Foster Care Agency in Indianapolis from 1948 to 1949, Gray joined the Planned Parenthood Federation of America a year later. During her twenty years with Planned Parenthood, Gray established and directed seven regional offices throughout the United States and developed guidelines for community education and organizational programs. Gray became the first woman to serve as vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and as a social work instructor at San Francisco State University. Honored as an Indiana Distinguished Citizen, and cited for her work by the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease, Gray also founded and served as president of the Urban Institute for American Affairs. A cofounder and executive director of the Sojourner Truth Foster Family Service Agency, Gray also worked as a consultant for several health and family planning groups.
A member of many community organizations, including the National Urban League, the National Conference on Social Welfare, the California State Planning Commission on Minority Business Enterprises, and the San Francisco Health Commission, Grey also served as a member of the African American Child Task Force, the NAACP, and the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce. As cofounder of the African American Education Leadership Group, Gray worked to establish an academic elementary school in a predominately African American community in San Francisco. Gray also served on Mayor Willie Brown’s Task Force on Children, Youth, and Their Families from 1990 to 1993.