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Nonprofits

New Communities Foundation of Texas Leader Wayne White Is All in for the Community

The CEO brings extensive corporate and nonprofit experience to his new role at the helm of the social impact organization.
| |Photography Courtesy of Communities Foundation of Texas
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As midnight approaches on Sept. 21, 2023, the Communities Foundation of Texas office is still buzzing with activity. New CEO Wayne White and his team of about 50 are busy closing out the 15th edition of North Texas Giving Day, raising $63.9 million for local nonprofits in a 24-hour period.

White has spent the day in a whirlwind of media appearances and meetings. The organization’s efforts surpassed the previous year’s total through a combination of more than 97,000 individual donors, 261,481 individual gifts to 3,249 organizations, and matching funds from select nonprofits. The event is the largest regional online giving event in the nation.

“In my 36 years of work experience, it’s the single most inspirational employee event that I’ve seen,” White says.

Since arriving in Dallas last July, White has been busy getting acclimated to his new role and his new hometown. He’s a fast learner; his Cowboys blue suit on the day of the interview makes him look like a seasoned native. White grew up in Philadelphia, but his fellow University of Pittsburgh alumnus Tony Dorsett sparked his longtime Cowboys fandom.

He and his family moved to Philadelphia from Jamaica when he was a young child. “I didn’t wear shoes until I was six,” White says. The family lived near the home where his mother was employed as a domestic worker, allowing him to attend one of the best schools in the state.

After college, White entered a management development program at General Electric, but his desire to serve his community has always been knit into his fabric. While at GE in Cleveland, he spent time volunteering at inner-city schools and got an up-close look at the limited opportunities available to the average Black male teenager and the educational discrepancies that plague vulnerable communities.

“It was an eye-opening experience for me,” he says. In his current role, he can now address similar issues in North Texas.

White’s climb up the corporate ladder included stops at AT&T, Verizon, and Alcatel. His family has had extensive battles with cancer, so when a recruiter approached him about an executive role at the American Cancer Society after a close cousin passed away from breast cancer at age 39, he took his corporate skills to the nonprofit world. In his role at ACS, he led the North Central region and national partnerships.

White says parts of the nonprofit world align well with Corporate America. Attracting, retaining, and developing talent are essential in both spheres, as is the bottom line. “One thing we must do is raise money, which looks very similar to selling,” he says. “What I found through trial and error is that the sales process is very similar to fundraising management. The only difference is that you aren’t selling a product or service—it’s a mission.”

These days, White stays busy learning about all things CFT, from how the organization works with donors to educating the community about needs and working to address them. One difference from working in the corporate world is how his colleagues embody the mission.

“The inspiration and focus and mission centricity of the staff inspires me in a way that was different from when I was in my corporate role,” he says. “As a leader, you have to recognize that and make the mission central in how you lead.”

Alhough he has one North Texas Giving Day under his belt, White knows there is still a lot to learn. As the interview ends, he asks his assistant to send him a reminder at the oh-so-precise time of 11:53 a.m.. He has not a single minute to waste at the helm of CFT.

Author

Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…

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