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Ralph Gildehaus, JD

Senior Program Director

Durham, NC

Ralph leads MDC’s Family Economic Security (FES) practice, which equips communities, leaders, and institutions to change systems and policies to empower people to stabilize finances, increase economic security, and improve economic mobility (towards MDC’s vision of shaping a South where all people thrive). In this work, Ralph and his team help communities understand financial stability issues faced by families and how leaders can mobilize and take action to change and improve systems and policies to empower people to achieve better social, economic, and health outcomes. 

Before joining MDC, Ralph co-founded and served as director of The Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) in Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. According to an Ohio University report, the OBB in its first two years helped Ohioans apply for over $38 million in work supports. The OBB grew into the largest effort of its kind in the United States, with more than 1,000 sites and 3,000 counselors, helping Ohioans apply for nearly $2 billion in work supports. Prior to joining Gov. Strickland’s staff, Ralph was a litigation law firm partner with Porter Wright Morris and Arthur. Ralph also served as a law clerk for Judge Lawrence S. Margolis of the U.S. Claims Court in Washington, D.C.; on the legislative and political staffs of former U.S. Rep. Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania; and as issues director for Sam Beard for U.S. Senate in Delaware.  

Ralph received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Amherst College and a juris doctor from George Washington University Law School. When not working, Ralph serves on the personnel committee of the Durham Friends Meeting (where he also mows the grass weekly). He is also a high school girls’ tennis team coach, state-ranked tournament tennis player, and captain for several USTA tennis teams.