Arva R. Rice
President AND CEO
New York Urban League
New York City
In a world where life can go awry without warning, Arva R. Rice strives to help lives move forward. As president and CEO of the New York Urban League, she holds fast to the organization’s mission to enable African-Americans and other underserved communities to secure a first-class education, economic self-reliance and respect of their civil rights. Underserved communities also were her focus as executive director of Project Enterprise, a support and resource organization for entrepreneurs in New York City, prior to joining NYUL.
Rice is the daughter of sharecroppers who made her education their highest goal. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in social policy at Northwestern University and pursued postgraduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. Influenced by women of strong will who give back to their community — her mother; former New York City Councilor Ruth Messinger, who told her that “leadership means doing things that make your stomach hurt”; and abolitionist Harriet Tubman — Rice is the second female to head NYUL in its 91-year history. “I have to admit my title can sound daunting,” she says. “The women with whom I interact are comfortable and confident enough to approach me. I am inspired by the range of their knowledge and impressed by what they have done and what I know they will do in the future.”
Key collaborations she has forged at NYUL include with The Daily News on a “Parent’s Guide to College” that has reached more than 75,000. She is former board chair for the North Star Fund, a member of the Greater New York Chapter of The Links Inc., commissioner of New York City’s Equal Employment Practices Commission and proud aunt of four girls. “I tell them to love their African features and encourage them to do and be anything that they want to be, because Black girls are incredible.”