The William & Mary Law School Alumni Association recognized Chris Rey J.D. '10 during the Law School's May 12 Diploma Ceremony as recipient of the 2013 Taylor Reveley Award in recognition of his service to his alma mater, to the community of Spring Lake, N.C., where he is mayor, and to his country. The award, given annually, recognizes outstanding commitment to public service by an alumnus or alumna of the Law School who has graduated within the previous 10 years.
"Chris has truly fulfilled the ideal of the citizen lawyer in the three years since his graduation," Dean Davison M. Douglas told the audience at the ceremony.
The association created the award to recognize Taylor Reveley's dedication to promoting the ideal of the citizen lawyer, an attorney who uses his or her education to make a broad and lasting impact on a local, national or international level. Reveley, who served as dean of the Law School from 1998 to 2008, is now the 27th president of the College of William & Mary and the John Stewart Bryan Professor of Jurisprudence. This is the second award created by the Law School Association to recognize public service; the other is the Citizen-Lawyer Award.
Rey was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and moved to North Carolina with his grandmother at age 9. An all-American track star in high school, he studied at East Carolina University on a track scholarship. His engagement with the larger community began during his college years, as founder of the university's first campus NAACP chapter. Rey enlisted in the U.S. Army his senior year in college and served for seven years, which included tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He received a Bronze Star and rose to the rank of captain, eventually serving as commander of the 3rd Special Forces Signal Detachment.
Following his military service, Rey studied for his J.D. at William & Mary Law School. He was a member of the Student Bar Association, and was active in electoral politics, working as a volunteer on U.S. congressional campaigns. Rey also served as a member of the Electoral College, representing Virginia's first congressional district that elected Barack Obama president of the United States in 2008. He was the first African-American presidential elector in the history of Virginia.
Following graduation from law school in 2010, Rey returned to his home of Spring Lake, N.C. One year later he ran for mayor, challenging a long-time incumbent. His campaign caught fire: legendary Congressman John Lewis of Georgia came to campaign for him. Lewis explained why he chose to campaign in a mayoral race in North Carolina, since he turns down hundreds of similar requests each year. "I saw something in Chris Rey as a young leader," Lewis said. "He had this unbelievable sense of hope, optimism and can-do attitude."
Rey defeated the incumbent, captured 76 percent of the vote, and serves as mayor today. He also runs a consulting business that advises non-profit organizations and small businesses.