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Dr. Seanelle Hawkins

President & CEO, Urban League of Rochester

Years in current role: 2 years, 7 months

What was your biggest success in 2021?

It would be difficult to state just one! But with the support of our team, we celebrated the launch of the first Lease-to-Purchase (L2P) affordable housing program in New York State, diversified and significantly expanded our Leadership team, added a whole new division dedicated exclusively to Equity and Advocacy, and launched a new Business Development program called PowerShift to amplify the visibility of minority- and women-owned businesses in our community.

What are your expectations for 2022?

We plan to strengthen our partnerships with other community nonprofit and for-profit organizations to help us in fulfilling the mission of ULR. We are especially focusing on increasing efforts around education, public health, economic mobility, and systemic racism.

What is your biggest takeaway from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

The populations that the Urban League serves are hit the hardest when a disaster or emergency occurs. We have learned that we can’t do this work alone: We have to strengthen one another to keep our communities safe, healthy, and thriving.

What is your favorite thing about the Rochester community?

There are so many Powerbrokers willing to utilize their resources and do the hard work to effect long-lasting, positive change in Rochester.

If time were no issue, what would you do to help the community that you aren’t already doing?

I would make room for every single voice to be heard: I would speak with and hear from each community member to understand their ideas on making improvements and creating change. I would help everyone to understand the importance of dismantling systemic racism and advocating for those with less power.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 100 list for 2022. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at


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