Sheena joined the Gifford Foundation team in 2007, and was named Executive Director in January 2019. Her prior work at the foundation was primarily focused on expanding its community impact initiatives, as well as working with the grants management team. She has been instrumental in the design and planning of Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders a leadership development training that focuses on increasing the diversity and inclusiveness of nonprofit boards.
Sheena is a 2012 graduate of the PLACES (Professionals Learning About Community Equity and Smart Growth) program, a yearlong professional development program designed to explore critical issues that affect grantmaking decisions that are responsive to the needs and assets of low-income neighborhoods and people of color. She now serves on the Advisory Board for the program as the Chair.
In her role as Executive Director she remains fully committed and engaged in racial justice and equity work.
Sheena also dedicates her time by serving on local and national boards such as You Can’t Fail Inc, the Syracuse Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO), the Urban Minority Economic Association (UMEA), The Near Westside Initiative, The Funders Network, Empire State Development (REDC) Council and the M&T Directors Advisory Council.
Before joining the Gifford Foundation, Sheena spent several years working at local non-profit organizations where she developed an understanding and joy for working with people in the community. Sheena was essential in the creation and implementation of Gifford’s city-wide initiative, the “What If…” Mini-Grants, which provides a resource in fostering growth in neighborhoods and strengthening the capacity of residents who are focused on making positive changes in their communities.
Sheena is passionate about fostering growth in others. She understands the need to have patience and understanding in addressing the needs of the community. She truly believes the “teaching people how to fish” concept and celebrating diversity is the best way to build and sustain strong, vibrant and inclusive communities.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and treasuring every moment because tomorrow is promised to no one. She looks forward to continuing her journey of being a confident, competent, courageous, and calm leader.