For the first several years of his life, Shay grew up near the San Xavier del Bac in southern Arizona. When he was 13, he moved with his family into a home near Davis Monthan Air Force Base—a home he would later purchase and lives in to this day.
Shay’s father was an English teacher and coach at Sahuarita High School, and his mother was a senior administrator at the University of Arizona. As a result, education became a very important issue to Shay at a very early age. He attended Palo Verde High School and then, briefly, the University of Arizona. While at the University of Arizona, Shay earned internships in Washington, D.C. with former Arizona Congressman Mo Udall and then U.S. Senator Robert Kasten.
After the experience of seeing how things worked in Congress first-hand, Shay decided to stay in Washington, D.C. to get a bachelor’s degree in Government and a master’s in National Security from Georgetown University. It was during this time that Shay assumed legal guardianship for his younger brother, Scott, when Shay’s mother sent him to live with Shay in D.C. from Arizona. After working as an advocate with Congress for educational, defense, and information technology organizations, Shay returned to Tucson in 2006 to work at the University of Arizona as their representative, primarily with the U.S. Congress.
Shay served the families in Southern Arizona as the University of Arizona advocate from 2006 to 2017, when he was recruited to serve Arizona State University. He viewed this move as an opportunity not only to see how another Arizona university operated, but also to elevate education issues statewide with the U.S. Congress.
Perhaps the best and most important decision Shay made was in 2008 when he married the love of his life, Shae (yes, you read that correctly, and it is pronounced exactly the same way). Shay and Shae were married at the DeGrazia Chapel in Tucson and then held a small reception at the Tucson Botanical Garden with their families, including Shay’s terminally ill father (cancer) and mother. His mother would also later pass away due to cancer. The loss of these two great Arizonans made Shay resolved to help win the battle against cancer for all Americans.
Shay and Shae recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony. They have two chihuahuas that they adopted from local southern Arizona dog rescues.