Cortney Nicolato

Part Time Lecturer


Cortney M. Nicolato is a mission-driven executive leader and systems change agent with two decades of experience in nonprofit management and entrepreneurship. Cortney is president and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island, a statewide nonprofit with more than 80 employees and an operating budget of $28M. United Way proved during COVID-19 to be the only organization in the state that effectively harnessed resources from government, corporations, nonprofits, and individuals to address crises, starting with its 211 hotline, the front door to social services in the state, as well as through advocacy, fundraising, and grant-making.

Under Cortney’s leadership, the organization is focused on the root causes of inequities in the RI community that have become more apparent during the pandemic. In January, the United Way of Rhode Island launched Live United 2025, with a goal to invest $100M in the next five years to build racial equity and opportunities in the state. Cortney is the first woman CEO in the organization’s history.

Prior to United Way, Cortney held several transformative senior management positions. Most recently, she served as president and CEO of The Senior Source, a nonprofit agency serving older adults in North Texas. Her previous experience also includes being Senior Advisor, Director of New Business Initiatives at the National Center of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Cortney is a sought-after speaker as well as a member of Forbes Magazine’s Nonprofit Council.

From the beginning of her career, Cortney’s focus has been on serving the community. This commitment allowed her to effectively lead dedicated teams and improve the lives of individuals and families across the globe. Cortney serves as a Trustee for the University of Rhode Island, a member of United Way Worldwide’s Network Advisory Council, and a mentor at Sophia Academy, among other things. She is also a part time lecturer in the Nonprofit Management program at Northeastern University. The most important people in her life are her husband David and their two sons, Jacob and Ian. With her family, she can be found out on her road bike, kayaking throughout Rhode Island and photographing nature in all its glory.