On Tuesday, December 6th, Mayor Eric Adams announced the appointment of Sheena Wright, the current Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives, to the position of first deputy mayor following the departure of former First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo. Mayor Adams also announced the appointment of Camille Joseph Varlack as Chief of Staff from her previous position of Senior Advisor.
At the press conference announcing her appointment, Wright said, “I’m looking forward to continuing to serve New Yorkers as first deputy mayor and leading our dedicated team into 2023. 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.”
Wright was the chair of Mayor Adams’ transition team in August 2021. She was a part of the Blueprint for Child Care & Early Childhood Education in New York City, which was previously covered by LittleAfrica News. She also co-leads the New York City Gun Violence Prevention Task Force which claims to be responsible for an almost 17% drop in shootings across the city. Wright will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations under Adams’ administration as well as managing the city’s $100 billion budget.
Wright graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Sociology from Columbia University. She then received her Doctor of Law degree from Columbia Law School. She practiced law for over 5 years.
Wright is taking over the position of First Deputy Mayor from former Deputy Mayor Grillo. Grillo was the senior advisor to former mayor Bill de Blasio. She aided his administration in COVID-19 recovery. She worked in government for 30 years.
At the press conference announcing her departure from the Adams administration, she said, “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.” She continued, “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.”
Wright makes history with this appointment as she is the first African American woman to hold the position of First Deputy Mayor.
Camille Joseph Varlack will be taking over the position of Chief of Staff following the departure of Frank Carone. Varlack was previously the senior advisor to Mayor Adams. In the past, she has served as the senior advisor to Schools Chancellor David Banks.
Varlack began her career working as an assistant district attorney in Kings County. She has degrees from the University of Buffalo as well as Brooklyn Law School. Varlack was a founder and CEO of Bradford Edwards and Varlack LLP, a law firm whose goal was to uplift women and previously sidelined attorneys and open doors for a more diverse crowd of people in law. Varlack was also a member of the New York State COVID-19 Task Force.
At the press conference, Varlack said, “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.” She continued, “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.”