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The Rockefeller Foundation Names Deborah Wright as New Managing Director for U.S. Jobs and Economic Opportunity

NEW YORK — The Rockefeller Foundation today announced that Deborah Wright has been named managing director for the Foundation’s U.S. Jobs & Economic Opportunity initiative. Ms. Wright comes to the Foundation after most recently serving as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Carver Bancorp Inc. and Carver Federal Savings Bank, a federally chartered savings bank and the nation’s largest publicly-traded African-American led bank. She also served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, where she funded development of 21,000 affordable housing units and managed 43,000 residential properties.

“We know that for too many people in the United States today, hard work is not translating into better opportunities or even basic financial stability,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Many feel that the changing economy has put the American Dream out of reach for them and their families. The Rockefeller Foundation believes everyone living in the United States should have access to a good job and a secure future—even as the economy, the job market, and the workplace change. With Debbie’s leadership, I am confident that we’ll conquer new frontiers of thinking and continue to explore new, innovative partnerships to advance the wellbeing of American families.”

As managing director of the U.S. Jobs & Economic Opportunity initiative, Ms. Wright will lead an expanding portfolio of work that takes on greater importance each day.

“I’m thrilled to join The Rockefeller Foundation and to partner with a bright, dynamic team focused on creating jobs and economic opportunity, especially for those feeling shut out of the changing U.S. economy,” said Ms. Wright. “We will work together to expand the Foundation’s important work, forge new partnerships, and create greater access to opportunity and equity in the workplace for millions of people living and working in the United States.”

Prior to joining Carver Bancorp Inc., Ms. Wright served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, which spurred redevelopment in Harlem. Previously, she held roles with the New York City Housing Authority Board and the Partnership for New York. She served under New York City mayors David Dinkins and Rudolph Giuliani. Most recently, Ms. Wright was a Senior Fellow for Economic Opportunity Issues at the Ford Foundation and serves on the boards of directors for Citi, Voya Financial, and Memorial Sloan Kettering; previously, she served on the public boards of Time Warner and Kraft Foods. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and Radcliffe College.

Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said, “Debbie’s practical approach to problem-solving and her broad network of relationships will immediately position Rockefeller Foundation as a leading force in economic development activities around the country and preparing diverse populations for the work of the future.”

Citi CEO Michael Corbat said, “Debbie Wright’s incredible record and experiences as a leader in the government, banking and the non-profit sectors make her uniquely qualified to lead The Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to increase economic opportunity for Americans. I think great things are in store for The Rockefeller Foundation and those they serve.”

Throughout its history, The Rockefeller Foundation has helped ensure financial security for generations of Americans. During the Great Depression, the Foundation brought together leading U.S. economists to grapple with poverty, contributing to the creation of Social Security. Most recently, the Foundation’s work has focused on Impact Hiring, supporting access to stable, career-building jobs for young people, while working with employers like Walmart, HMS Host, and Chipotle to address critical talent challenges.

Today, The Rockefeller Foundation is working alongside philanthropists, policymakers, investors and community leaders to drive inclusive economic development in Opportunity Zones, created by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act in 2017. Additionally, through efforts like Shift Labs, the Foundation is supporting evidence-based interventions focused on workers and community economic development that address the changes brought by technology and automation. Furthermore, the Communities Thrive Challenge, in partnership with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, works alongside community leaders and others to share community-based solutions that address job-related challenges and improve economic opportunity at a national level. And with partners like The Workers Lab, the Foundation is committed to engaging employers, workers, and policy experts to reimagine our nation’s social safety and achieve greater economic security for workers across the United States.

Ms. Wright begins her position on Monday, July 30.

Contact Info:
The Rockefeller Foundation: Matt Herrick,

About The Rockefeller Foundation:
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot – or will not. For more information, please visit