As part of a new series, we want to introduce you to the Shine Global family and especially our outstanding and hard working board members who help move Shine forward.
Name: Kay Sarlin Wright
Joined Shine Board of Directors: November 2011 (previously on Advisory Board)
Title: Executive Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives at Empire State Development
Current Role at Shine: Member of the Board of Directors, Member of the Marketing Committee
Kay Sarlin Wright is the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives at Empire State Development, New York State’s chief economic development agency, where she oversees public affairs and the Global NY division. Prior to joining the Cuomo administration she served as Associate Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and senior advisor for marketing, creative services and communications, and provided strategic advice on political and policy matters on the City, State, and Federal levels. Before DCA she was a Vice President of the Glover Park Group, where she was a communications advisor to major national corporations, non-profits, and political campaigns. She has also served as a Congressional Chief of Staff and Assistant Commissioner at the New York City Department of Transportation.
Why did you join Shine’s board and why have you stayed on for several years?
Shine was started by my parents in 2005.
In January 2005, my mother and I had lunch with an executive director of a non-profit focused on providing health and human services and we discussed the war in Northern Uganda. We learned how thousands of children walked hundreds of miles each night to sleep in the fortified city of Gulu. We couldn’t believe how little we knew and after lunch we found out that we weren’t alone — this was the UN’s number one most under-reported story of the year. And then the question became how could more people learn about stories like this and the answer was originally we could raise money to make one documentary. This lunch was a seminal moment in the creation of Shine and it’s hard to believe all that Shine has accomplished since then.
What’s a favorite Shine moment for you?
When we travelled to Africa to visit families who were living in IDP camps we met with many children, some of whom were featured in Shine’s first film War/Dance and we were very inspired by their strength. We quickly understood that whatever the mechanism would be for telling their story, at its core, the film would be about the incredible resilience of children.
How do you use your specific skill set in your work as a Shine board member?
My background is in communications and marketing and it’s exciting to work with the talented members of the Shine marketing committee to find new ways to forge partnerships and effectively communicate Shine’s mission of hope. It’s never easy convincing people to see films that focus on troubling topics, often without easy solutions, but Shine’s films create awareness and allow us to start discussions that can lead to real change.
What is a Shine challenge that you feel supporters should know about?
In the last ten years securing funding for documentaries has become increasingly difficult and every donation is very important to us.