Maria Whyte is the Chief Community Impact Officer and Chief of Staff at the Community Foundation. In this role, she leads the Community Impact team, which promotes the Community Foundation’s goals of advancing racial/ethnic equity, education, the environment and arts and architecture. Maria oversees the development and application of strategies for advancing systems change through collective action and community leadership. As Chief of Staff she also supports talent development inside the organization.
Prior to working at the Community Foundation, Maria was the Deputy County Executive (DCE) in Erie County, New York, where she was the first female in a generation to hold the title. As DCE, Maria advanced the County’s most significant economic development projects, including the redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site, and provided strategic operational support for the County’s departments. Previously, Maria served Erie County as the Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning (DEP), during which she became the founder and first Chairperson of the Buffalo and Erie County Land Bank. She also served on the boards of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, and the Erie County Industrial Land Development Corporation. Prior to becoming the DEP Commissioner, Maria served six years as the 6th District Erie County Legislator, representing Buffalo’s West Side, Black Rock, and Riverside neighborhoods. During her entire six-year tenure in the Legislature, her colleagues reelected her to serve as the Majority Leader.
Maria earned her B.A. in International Relations with Honors from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and has a Certificate in Equitable Community Change from Cornell University.