William Lighten

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Lehman Brothers

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Arts & Culture, Religious, Legal Defense for Urban Youth

OVERVIEW: William Lighten and family move their philanthropy through the Lighten Family Foundation. Lighten steadily supports his alma mater Yale. Other interests include religious causes. Much of Lighten’s philanthropy focuses on the New York City area.

BACKGROUND:  William Lighten earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University in 1986. He worked in the mortgage finance and asset-backed securities businesses at Merrill Lynch and went on to work at Lehman Brothers Bank, where he served as managing director, chairman, and CEO.


EDUCATION: Lighten and his late wife Janifer met at Yale, which the couple steadily supported through the years, and which Lighten continues to support. The Lighten family is also heavily involved with Boys and Girls Clubs of New Rochelle and funds scholarships. Other grantees have included Harlem School of the Arts, Education for a Better America, and New York Theological Seminary.

ARTS & CULTURE: Lighten sits on the board of Apollo Theater which he supports via his foundation.

RELIGIOUS: The late Janifer Lighten was an active member of Grace Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, where she co-founded the Grace Innovation Ministry, an “investment educational development ministry.” The family supports the church via their foundation, as well as other places like Center Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis. The Lighten family has also supported The Grace & UJAMAA Community Development Corporation, an outfit founded by Grace Baptist Church which focuses on Westchester County and Mount Vernon, New York.

LEGAL DEFENSE: Grantees have included NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where Lighten sits on the board.

 LOOKING FORWARD: Expect Lighten’s philanthropy to keep a special eye on New York City area for now. Janifer passed away from cancer, so perhaps that will lead to robust health philanthropy via the foundation.


The Lighten Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue of contact but below is an address:

Lighten Family Foundation
501 Silverside Rd., Ste. 123
Wilmington, DE 19809