Charitable Change Agent
Only five years after earning a bachelor’s degree, Erinn Corbett-Wright, CLA ’14, is in charge of managing $5 million in assets. She ensures the funds get distributed from Maine to Florida in the form of grants to improve the lives of families through affordable housing, early learning, financial literacy, mid-career retraining, small business development and more.
A life-altering course
By any measure, the ascent of Corbett-Wright’s career has been explosive. For a woman whose credo is “always do good,” it’s been a rewarding ride. And if it hadn’t been for one class she took at Temple, it never would have happened.
“My sophomore year, I took a political science course called Special Topics in Urban Politics taught by former Philadelphia mayor (and current member of Temple’s Board of Trustees) John Street,” Corbett-Wright said. In the class, Street discussed his rise from grassroots organizer to Philadelphia City Council member and his tenure as mayor. He shared his thoughts on the city’s history, its growth, its opportunities, its weaknesses, and how politics has shaped its fabric and culture. At the end of the course, Corbett-Wright pursued an internship with current Council President Darrell L. Clarke, which led to a paid position working as a legislative assistant with State Rep. Jordan A. Harris in her junior year.
“There I was,” Corbett-Wright said, “21 years old, an undergraduate student, going to class and working full time for state and local government. I owe my entire career to that class. It changed my life.”
A passionate pivot
After her time in the policy world, Corbett-Wright decided to leverage her experience and pivot her career path toward nonprofit fundraising. From interning at the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, to a development job at a nonprofit for advancing behavioral health, to working with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Program, Corbett-Wright found her calling in the nonprofit space.
Her current role as vice president, Charitable Foundation program manager at TD Bank allows her to work on many transformative projects and fuel her passion for doing good. “I love working in philanthropy. I love grantmaking,” Corbett-Wright said. “I love making projects possible and allowing communities to be the best agents of their change and facilitating that with capital.”
A real role model
Now, she’s a leader in a professional milieu with few visible Black Muslim women. “It is very important to me to be able to be out and visible as a Black Muslim woman,” she said. “I welcome the opportunity to add to people’s perceptions of the capabilities of Muslim women, showing up in a way that changes the conversation around what it means to be a Muslim in America and how you contribute to the fabric of society.”
Corbett-Wright acknowledges that all of her success flows from that one political science course she took as a sophomore. “I’m not sure that the same magic could have happened at another school or in another city,” she said. “It was a uniquely Temple experience, a uniquely Philadelphia moment.”
—By Hillel Hoffmann and Kierstyn Smith