Mayor Adams Names Sheena Wright as First Deputy Mayor, Camille Joseph Varlack as Chief of Staff
Dec 07, 2022 - 11:49 AM
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced that current Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright will be elevated to the position of first deputy mayor, and that Senior Advisor to the Mayor Camille Joseph Varlack will serve as chief of staff starting January 2023. Wright and Varlack will assume their roles following the planned departures of First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo and Chief of Staff Frank Carone.
“Lorraine Grillo and Frank Carone have been tremendous assets to me, to our colleagues at City Hall, and to all New Yorkers, and we are all incredibly grateful for their service,” said Mayor Adams. “They’re leaving big shoes to fill, and I’m confident that Sheena Wright and Camille Joseph Varlack have what it takes to serve the city that we all love as first deputy mayor and chief of staff. I trust them, I am confident in their skills and commitment, and I look forward to shaping New York City’s future and ‘Getting Stuff Done’ with them at my side.”
“I’m looking forward to continuing to serve New Yorkers as first deputy mayor and leading our dedicated team into 2023,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright. “I’m grateful to Mayor Adams for his trust, to First Deputy Mayor Grillo for the incredible work she’s done during our first year, and to the remarkable team of women leaders in this administration for breaking glass ceilings on a daily basis. I know how to bring business, nonprofits, and government together to ‘Get Stuff Done,’ and that’s exactly what I’ll do as First Deputy Mayor.”
“I’m incredibly humbled to have the opportunity to serve as chief of staff, and I’m excited to continue to work with this incredible team that Mayor Adams has assembled,” said Special Advisor to the Mayor Camille Joseph Varlack. “My mother — a nurse from Trinidad and Tobago who immigrated to the U.S. — taught me from a young age that order, structure, and discipline were nonnegotiable, and that’s the mentality I bring with me wherever I go. New York City is at the heart of the American Dream, and we’ll work tirelessly to make sure our city continues to be a place where people like my mother can work hard and achieve their dreams.”
“First deputy mayor is a one-of-a-kind opportunity, a role that requires government expertise, relentless grit, and a vision for a better city, and Sheena Wright wields all those qualities and more,” said First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo. “I’m confident that as chief of staff, Camille will deliver her decades of operational excellence and peerless management to City Hall. As we celebrate another historic barrier broken, I wish both Sheena and Camille the best in their new positions. Our city is in steady hands as Mayor Adams writes the next chapter of this administration.”
“It’s been an honor keeping the trains running for this administration, and I can’t think of a better person to help us keep on track as we continue to ‘Get Stuff Done’ than Camille,” said Chief of Staff Frank Carone. “I’ve worked closely with Deputy Mayor Wright going to back to the transition last year, and I know she has the vision and execution to thrive as first deputy mayor. We’ve done great work over our first year, and I’m positive that we’re leaving the team in great hands to continue delivering results for New Yorkers.”
“Mayor Adams is clear that he intends to maximize this moment in history to improve our city in ways big and small, and this requires a team of public servants who are as fully dedicated to this mission as he is,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Sheena and Camille have accepted this solemn contract with New Yorkers, and I have no doubt they will use their immense talents to deliver on improving the lives of New Yorkers. I have enjoyed calling them ‘teammates’ and I am even prouder to call them ‘first deputy mayor’ and ‘chief of staff.’”
“I am enormously thrilled to work with incoming First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and incoming Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack in their new roles as we continue to ‘Get Stuff Done’ under Mayor Adams’ leadership,” said Deputy Mayor for Workforce and Economic Development Maria Torres-Springer. “I have seen both of these powerful leaders in action and can confidently say that the City of New York is in great hands as we continue our ambitious agenda of growing our economy and serving our citizens.”
“Today is a good day for New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Two dedicated public servants have stepped up to say yes to helping New York through this next critical phase. Sheena Wright is a visionary leader who, as first deputy mayor, will bring years of nonprofit leadership experience, a strong equity lens, and an optimistic can-do outlook to achieving big goals. Camille Joseph Varlack is a talented administrator who will bring state government, private sector, operations, and risk management experience to her role as chief of staff. Every New Yorker should be proud of these historic appointments. I am excited to serve alongside both Sheena and Camille to continue executing Mayor Adams’ vision for a better New York City.”
“New York City is extremely fortunate to count these two powerhouses among its leadership,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III. “Sheena is a force for change and an exceptional public servant who will no doubt continue to be an asset to this administration as first deputy mayor, and we are honored to have Camille bring her immense vision, expertise, and drive to our team. I look forward to working alongside them to deliver results to New Yorkers.”
“I extend my congratulations,” said Chief Advisor to the Mayor Ingrid Lewis-Martin. “While I will miss my longtime friend Frank Carone and new sister Lorraine Grillo, it’s a new day in City Hall, and I look forward to working in partnership to advance Mayor Adams’ agenda for the people of New York.”
Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright
As deputy mayor for strategic initiatives, Sheena Wright has led on a variety of city priorities. She helped New York City deliver on key planks of the Blueprint for Child Care & Early Childhood Education in New York City — most notably, clearing a backlogged waitlist for vouchers and allowing families of 36,000 children to apply for low-cost, high-quality child care. Deputy Mayor Wright also co-led the Joint Taskforce to Get Nonprofits Paid on Time, which unlocked more than $4.2 billion in contractual dollars for more than 460 large and small organizations. She drove an historic expansion of New York City’s summer youth employment program — already the nation’s largest such program — to offer job opportunities to 100,000 young New Yorkers this past summer. And Deputy Mayor Wright additionally co-leads the city’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which has contributed to a 16.2-percent decrease in shootings in New York.
Deputy Mayor Wright previously served as the first female president and CEO of United Way of New York City and president and CEO of Abyssinian Development Corporation. Before joining the Adams administration, she was appointed to the city’s Education Sector Advisory Council and the state’s New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board.
Deputy Mayor Wright practiced law, including for five years at the prestigious law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. She also served as a trustee for Columbia University and acted as a board member for New Visions for Public Schools, NYC Kids Rise, and the New York City Regional Economic Development Council. Deputy Mayor Wright has been named number one on City & State New York’s “Nonprofit Power 100,” listed in Crain’s New York Business’ “Notable Black Leaders and Executives,” and named numerous times as a notable nonprofit executive and civil servant. She is a graduate of Columbia University and Columbia Law School.
Senior Advisor to the Mayor Camille Joseph Varlack
Camille Joseph Varlack has expertise in managing operational risk in organizations and is known for her ability to successfully navigate large-scale crises, both in and out of government. She is currently a senior advisor to the mayor, where she focuses on operations. She was a founding partner and chief operating officer for Bradford Edwards & Varlack LLP, where she was responsible for the day-to-day operational leadership. She recently served as a senior advisor for operations to the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, where she worked on a variety of matters, including advising the administration on COVID-19 operations within New York’s public schools and the successful execution of the Summer Rising program.
Ms. Varlack was formerly the deputy director of state operations, chief risk officer, and special counsel for New York State, where she was responsible for managing the operations of over 60 agencies and authorities. In that capacity, she was responsible for leading teams through statewide crises, including natural disasters, storm response, terrorist activities, and cyberattacks, as well as responding to a multitude of public health crises. She later served as a member of the New York State COVID-19 Task Force. As chief risk officer, she was responsible for managing and providing guidance on internal and external audit related matters, compliance, and internal control issues, and she was instrumental in the development and implementation of the first statewide enterprise risk management system.
Ms. Varlack started her career as an assistant district attorney in Kings County. She is a past chair of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics; a trustee of the State University of New York, where she serves as the co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; and a board member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. She is a graduate of the University at Buffalo and Brooklyn Law School.
First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo
In her time as first deputy mayor, Lorraine Grillo played a critical role in creating and unveiling plans for the SPARC Kips Bay life sciences hub that will create career pipelines for students in the life sciences, health, and public health industries; overhauling the capital project process to ensure faster and cheaper project delivery; leading the city’s COVID-19 recovery; representing the Adams administration in responding to the scene of a mass shooting in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; and championing minority- and-women-owned business efforts, creating a model program that has been replicated across the country. New York City has awarded $6.5 billion in contracts for M/WBEs in Fiscal Year 2022 from city agencies and authorities — an increase of more than 65 percent from Fiscal Year 2021.
Chief of Staff Frank Carone
Chief of Staff Frank Carone helped build a team and team culture that was ready to tackle and execute on major legacy initiatives for Mayor Adams beginning on day one. By bringing the World Dyslexia Forum to New York City, Carone raised awareness of the reading disorder, and the universal dyslexia screening for public school students launched by the administration is intended, in part, to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. Carone led the charge on the corridor-wide rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, an initiative to connect communities that have long been separated due to the design of the historic Robert Moses highway. He successfully concluded negotiations to bring affordable housing and a world-class, fully privately financed soccer stadium to Willets Point — an area of Queens that has been underutilized for generations. Carone also promoted New York City’s application to host the Democratic National Convention in 2024.