For its weekly “The Boss” column, the New York Times’ Sunday business section profiled Sheena Wright, CEO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a non-profit “dedicated to building the human, social and physical capital of Harlem.” Wright is a lawyer by training and now heads this community-based organization that sponsors youth, family and senior programs, housing development and neighborhood revitalization.
From the company’s website:
Prior to joining ADC, Ms. Wright served as the General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business Development for Crave Technologies, a minority-owned software company based in New York City and Baltimore, Maryland. From 1999 to 2000, she was a Senior Associate at the law firm of Reboul, MacMurray, Hewitt, Maynard and Kristol, specializing in structuring private equity funds and private equity investments. From 1994 to 1999, Ms. Wright was an Associate at the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, where she participated in negotiating, structuring and executing complex mergers, acquisitions and securities transactions.
Ms. Wright received a law degree from Columbia Law School in 1994 and was named a Stone Scholar for outstanding academic achievement.
In the New York Times column (“as told to Patricia R. Olsen”), Ms. Wright says:
When I got my law degree, I joined the law firm, which had only a handful of women as associates and a couple of female partners out of about 75. I was the second black woman hired.
I learned a lot about business and negotiating complex transactions during the five years I worked there, but I realized that I wanted to use my skills for the betterment of my community someday. I moved to another law firm and learned more about private equity and other resources that businesses could use to grow and develop.
Ms. Wright’s full profile is here.
Ms. Wright’s description of her corporate law training reminded me of how important so-called “private law” subjects have for lawyers who are interested in doing “public interest” work, whether in law or otherwise. Expertise and training in corporate law, taxation, finance, accounting and related fields can serve as the foundation for launching a very successful public-interest oriented career, too.