Cortney M. Nicolato

Cortney M. Nicolato is a passionate advocate for community change and a dedicated champion for Rhode Island. Raised with a deep-seated belief instilled by her parents to leave the world better than they found it, Cortney has dedicated her career to serving others. With over two decades of experience in nonprofit management and entrepreneurship on a global scale, Cortney’s leadership has positively impacted countless individuals and families.

Currently serving as the President and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island, Cortney is the organization’s first female CEO in its over 98-year history. She thrives on challenging the status quo, particularly when it fails to address the needs of marginalized communities. Under her guidance, United Way of Rhode Island has intensified its focus on addressing the root causes of inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Through United Way’s various program and initiatives, the organization is committed to investing $100M over five years to create opportunities and promote racial equity in the state, already allocating $71.25M in just 2.5 years.

Prior to her role at United Way, Cortney held transformative senior management positions, including President and CEO of The Senior Source, a prominent nonprofit agency for older adults in North Texas. Her diverse experience also encompasses serving as Senior Advisor and Director of New Business Initiatives at the National Center of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Cortney is recognized as a compelling speaker and is a valued member of Forbes Magazine’s Nonprofit Council.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Cortney actively contributes to various organizations, serving as a Trustee for the University of Rhode Island, a member of United Way Worldwide’s Network Advisory Council, and contributing her expertise to the Finance Committee for Alpha Phi International, among other roles. She also shares her knowledge as an adjunct professor in Northeastern University’s Nonprofit Management program and occasionally fills in as a talk show host for 630 AM/99.7 FM WPRO.

Family holds a central place in Cortney’s life, with her husband of 20 years, David, and their two sons, Jacob (16) and Ian (13), being her greatest sources of joy and support. When not advocating for change or spending time with her loved ones, Cortney can be found pursuing her passions, whether it’s cycling along scenic routes, swimming, or capturing the beauty of nature through her lens as an amateur photographer. Her commitment to staying active and connected extends to her involvement with the South County Y’s master swim team, the South County Waves, whose recent victory at the New England Masters Swimming Championships reflects Cortney’s dedication to excellence in all aspects of her life.

Term expires: February 1, 2027