Meet United Way of NYC’s first female president

Sheena Wright, who serves as United Way of New York City’s first female President, takes being a social justice advocate to a whole new level. This former CEO of Abyssinian Development Corporation is impacting lives across the five boroughs of The Big Apple all while being a mother of four kids. She entered the prestigious Columbia University at the age of 16 before heading to law school. Find out how she’s continuing to break down barriers all while changing the dynamic of those living in low-income communities.


Full Name: Sheena Wright

Age: 47

Occupation: President/CEO, United Way of New York City

Hometown: The South Bronx, New York

Social Media: LinkedIn

Being The First Female President Of United Way Of NYC: There’s a difference between being a woman and leading in this role. It actually takes the effort of people working together and not looking for the credit is what it’s going to take for us to solve our social problems. And women do that better. We’re about the business of getting it done and not for recognition. We need to be in the room and have that influence because many rooms haven’t included us.

Related Link: How Oprah made her billions

A Typical Day For Her: One of the things I love about my job is that there’s so much variety in terms of what I do. My role is four parts: strategy, resources, leadership and operational. A typical day could be meeting with funders and other investors to educate them on the work we’re doing or going into communities and making sure that we’re working together to accomplish our goals.

Related Link: Dwayne Johnson started his career with only $7 in his pocket

The Importance of Black Women Breaking Barriers: It’s important for us to continue to break barriers in every sector. In every sector we’re underrepresented whether it’s in government and certainly the corporate sector. Our unique perspective and experience as women leaders, as women of color leaders, is essential so we can actually get to results that are much more impactful than they’ve been and sustainable.

A Specific Mission And Making An Impact: We’re very focused on making sure that in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, we’re helping help to move people to self-sufficiency. This includes making sure that young people have better educational opportunities and outcomes. Also, ensuring that the parents have opportunities as well so that both generations are being serviced.

Related Link: 16 modern day black women who made history with their firsts

Advice For Women: Be very clear about who you are and all of your strengths and attributes because society will tell you what you don’t have and what you can’t do.

Her superpower: I can listen and hear how people are feeling and what their needs are.

Her Theme Song: The God In Me – By Mary Mary

This article originally appeared in Essence.