Lela Riis Usry Agnew

Nonprofit Communications & Fundraising Executive

Photo of Lela Agnew.

Lela Riis Usry Agnew has broad philanthropic expertise with thirty years as an executive director, development professional, consultant, board chair, community organizer, advocacy expert and donor in educational and public health programming. She has a diverse network of philanthropic, corporate, academic and political leaders.

Currently, Lela serves on the Board of Advisors for One Love Foundation in New York. One Love is an education provider addressing relationship abuse through a prevention-focused approach that teaches the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Additionally, she is a senior advisor to the founder and Board of the Echo Project, which is helping to transform America’s most infamous KKK museum into a center for diversity and a space of hope.

From 2011 to 2016 Lela served as the Executive Vice President, Strategic Communications for the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC where she led a multi-national communications team representing media relations, digital strategy, web development, publications, branding and events for 70+ offices worldwide. At ULI, she secured partnerships with corporations, foundations and individuals, and co-led the CEO’s “IDEO” innovation project on deploying new technologies.

Lela is a graduate of Wake Forest University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in History. She has extensive volunteer experience with many organizations including the Reformed Church of Bronxville, the Counseling Center in New York City, the International African American Museum, the Bronx Community Relief Effort, the Jacob A. Riis Museum in Denmark, the Bronxville School and Hyde Elementary in Washington, DC where she served as the Annual Gala Chair. She was a member of the Charleston Mayor's Commissions on Homelessness and Affordable Housing and the Hurricane Mitch Disaster Relief for Honduras.

Lela is married to her husband, David, who served with the Obama administration and was a senior advisor to President Biden’s transition team. They live in New York and have two sons, Dallas and Riis.