William Lighten

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Lehman Brothers, Eland Capital

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

OVERVIEW: William Lighten and his late wife, Janifer, established the Lighten Family Foundation. Lighten steadily supports his alma mater, Yale, and many local organizations in the greater New York City area.

BACKGROUND:  William Lighten earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University in 1986. He began his career in the mortgage finance and asset-backed securities businesses at Merrill Lynch. He was hired by Lehman Brothers Bank in 1991 and eventually became Managing Director, Chairman and CEO of the company. In 2011 he founded Eland Capital, a division of the Williams Capital Group, a leading minority-owned investment bank.


EDUCATION: Lighten met his late wife, Janifer, met at Yale, and the couple has steadily supported the university over the past 25 years. In the New York area, he has supported the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Rochelle, the Harlem School of the Arts and the New York Theological Seminary. Another recipient, Education for a Better America, aims to “build an education system that serves the needs of students in urban communities.”

ARTS & CULTURE: Lighten serves on the board of Harlem’s Apollo Theater, which he supports via his foundation.

RELIGIOUS: Janifer Lighten was an active member of Grace Baptist Church in the New York City suburb of Mt. Vernon, and she co-founded the church’s Innovation Ministry, which aims to bring financial literacy and investment knowledge to the community. The foundation supports Grace Church as well as the Grace and UJAMAA Community Development Corporation, which provides programs and services aimed at community development in Mount Vernon and neighboring communities.

LEGAL DEFENSE: Lighten is a supporter of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he also sits on the National Board of Directors.

LOOKING FORWARD: In addition to his many long-term philanthropic relationships, Lighten’s philanthropy may adapt to the changing needs of his community and the greater New York City area.


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