Sheena Wright

  • Columbia, B.A., 1990
  • Columbia, J.D., 1994

Sheena Wright is the first woman to lead United Way of New York City (UWNYC) in its more than 80-year history. Starting her career at UWNYC in October 2012 — the very day that Hurricane Sandy devastated the City — Sheena’s determination, unwavering leadership, and ability to leverage UWNYC’s unique position at the intersection of government, corporate, and community has been her driving force for success. Beginning with the $11 million raised in Hurricane relief efforts, to designing holistic, multi-generational resource and support programs, to COVID-19 recovery, in her tenure as President and CEO, Sheena has led a complete transformation of the organization.

In 2013, Wright spearheaded ReadNYC, the flagship initiative of UWNYC to strengthen families and improve grade-level reading by third grade in our City’s most-challenged communities. In direct response to the pandemic, she launched the COVID-19 Community Fund in early 2020, to provide resources and financial assistance to community-based organizations that work with our most-underserved communities. The fund focused on meeting immediate needs of New Yorkers through relief efforts, while working to build self-sufficiency for families and strengthen the nonprofit sector across our City. On the heels of the pandemic recovery, Wright launched the Campaign for Equity — a commitment that lays the foundation for a new social and economic opportunity. The campaign addresses the underlying structural and systemic failures that lead to racial disparities in health, education, and financial stability.

In 2021, Wright was named number one in City & State New York’s Nonprofit Power 100 and listed in Crain’s New York Business’ Notable Black Leaders and Executives. She was appointed to Mayor de Blasio’s Education Sector Advisory Council and Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board. She also serves as a Trustee for Columbia University, and as a Board Member for New Visions for Public Schools, NYC Kids Rise, and the New York City Regional Economic Development Council.

Prior to joining UWNYC, Wright served as President and CEO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation. Sheena is a graduate of Columbia University and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She was born and raised in the South Bronx and now lives in Harlem, with her 3 sons and daughter.