Mayor Adams Names Harlem Fave Sheena Wright As NYC First Deputy Mayor

 New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced that the current Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright will be elevated to the position of first deputy mayor.

Also, she will be Senior Advisor to Mayor Camille Joseph Varlack will serve as chief of staff starting January 2023. Here is what prominent leaders from across a range of sectors are saying about today’s announcement:

“Mayor Adams acutely understands the vital role Black women play in the effectiveness of his administration,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, founder and president, of National Action Network in Harlem. “The mayor’s milestone appointment of Sheena Wright as the first deputy mayor and Camille Joseph Varlack as chief of staff today is a clear example of his consistent effort to elevate diverse voices to leadership roles. Black women have the proven ability to ‘Get Stuff Done,’ and I know they will bring a sense of social justice, fairness, and effectiveness to the roles.”

“We applaud the mayor’s decision to name Sheena Wright as his new first deputy mayor and Camille Joseph Varlack as his new chief of staff. As the city’s first Black female first deputy mayor and only the second Black female to serve as chief of staff in our city’s nearly 400-year history, their appointments are historic and will inspire a generation of New Yorkers to serve” said Richard R. Buery, Jr., CEO, Robin Hood. “Both Sheena and Camille are outstanding public servants who approach their service to New Yorkers with endless energy, passion, and a deep commitment to making New York City the greatest engine of opportunity for all people. Both have such impressive records of accomplishment that have earned them the distinction as trailblazers and uniquely qualifies them for the roles the are assuming today.  On a personal note, I have known Sheena for decades – as a friend, a colleague, and a co-conspirator in the fight for a fairer city – and we are especially grateful for Sheena’s collaboration and leadership in working to expand access to quality childcare in New York City. What a great day for our city.”

“The appointment of Camille Joseph Varlack as chief of staff, to work alongside Mayor Adams, newly appointed First Deputy Mayor Wright and the other members of the mayor’s senior leadership team, further evidence this administration’s commitment to ensuring that our city is on a sustainable path to full recovery for all New Yorkers,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO, FPWA. “For nearly 25 years I’ve been privileged to witness Ms. Joseph Varlack in action, ably leading, driving and managing crises and complex systems’ reforms in our state. I am confident her knowledge and vast experience will be of tremendous value, and that First Deputy Mayor Wright and she are poised to help our mayor take New York City to unprecedented heights.”


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“Managing New York is never easy and only possible with a strong team working toward a common goal,” said Charles Phillips, co-founder, Recognize. “Sheena and Camille are making history and they are both proven leaders who have delivered results. Their management experience in complex organizations will benefit the city in the years ahead.”

“With these appointments, Mayor Adams affirms his commitment to building strong partnerships with business and the nonprofit sector,” said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO, Partnership for New York City. “Sheena and Camille bring a wealth of experience and diverse relationships to their important new roles in the administration.”

“I’ve met a lot of attorneys and other professionals in my career as a lawyer and on the bench, and I can confidently say that Camille is one of the most competent, dedicated, principled, and conscientious people I’ve ever met,” said the Honorable Judge Juanita Bing Newton. “Beyond that, Camille is genuinely kind and thoughtful and treats everyone she meets with respect and dignity. New York City is in excellent hands with Camille, and I couldn’t be more excited for her.”

“On behalf of United Way of New York City, I would like to extend our congratulations to Sheena Wright on her appointment to the role of first deputy mayor. Sheena has dedicated decades of her career to serving New Yorkers, bringing stakeholders to the table to solve some of the most complex problems facing our city. Her values, experience, and ability to reimagine a better more equitable New York makes her uniquely qualified to meet this moment,” said Grace Bonilla, president and CEO, United Way of New York City. “I would also like to congratulate Camille Varlack Joseph as she steps into the role of chief of staff. Camille’s experience in risk management as a litigator and her incredible service to the state of New York during some of our toughest challenges makes me personally excited to have her voice and leadership in City Hall. Today, New Yorkers and the City of New York win. I am looking forward to working with both impactful women towards a better, more equitable city.”

“The Association for a Better New York looks forward to partnering with First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and Chief of Staff Camille Varlack Joseph as they take up their new leadership roles,” said Steven Rubenstein, chair, of the Association for a Better New York. “Sheena brings decades of cross-sector collaboration and community development, while Camille brings operational excellence and a deep understanding of government’s inner workings. We congratulate them on their historic and well-deserved appointments.”

“These are important and historic appointments as Mayor Adams and his administration write their next chapter and welcome the city’s first Black female first deputy mayor and the second Black female chief of staff,” said William C. Rudin, co-chairman and CEO, Rudin Management. “Sheena Wright has been a tenacious advocate for our city and will be an effective first deputy mayor. Camille Varlack Joseph has deep experience in both city and state government and will undoubtedly make a great addition to Mayor Adams’ team.”

“Congratulations to Sheena Wright and Camille Varlack Joseph on their new positions,” said Rob Speyer, CEO, Tishman Speyer; chairman, Mayor’s Fund Advisory Board. “With these historic appointments, Mayor Adams has elevated two incredible women who will help shape the city’s future. We look forward to working with them.”



“Philanthropy New York is excited about the appointment of Sheena Wright as the first deputy mayor,” said Kathryn O’Neal-Dunham, CEO, of Philanthropy New York. “She has a long history of being a champion for all New Yorkers, particularly the critical non-profit workforce largely staffed by women of color who ensure individuals and families can flourish.  As the philanthropic ecosystem focuses on building a more equitable, sustainable and democratic New York City, we know that issues she has championed, such as on-time and in-full payment of contracts, are essential to the security and well-being of New Yorkers. Sheena’s leadership matters at a moment when New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted to put racial equity and living wages at the top of this administration’s priorities.” 

“The city needs leaders with integrity, smarts, and good values — and that’s exactly what Camille Joseph Varlack brings to the table,” said Dr. Merryl Tisch, chairwoman, the SUNY Board of Trustees. “As a veteran government official, a distinguished attorney, and an accomplished business executive, Camille has seen it all.  Not only has she delivered real results and solved countless thorny issues, Camille has also made service to others and uplifted our communities the centerpieces of her public life.”

Photo credit: NYC.gov

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