Dr. Dawnté Early, President & CEO

Dr. Dawnté Early headshot

Dr. Dawnté Early, a distinguished authority in health equity, public health and mental health, currently serves as the President and CEO of United Way California Capital Region. Her extensive experience and expertise have positioned her at the helm of the organization’s mission to end poverty in the Capital Region. Her focus is on empowering children to thrive academically, investing in families, and addressing the systemic racial disparities that persist in schools.

Beyond her significant role at United Way, Dr. Early made history in 2021 when she was elected to the West Sacramento city council, becoming the first black councilmember ever elected and is a part of the first all-female city council in the history of West Sacramento. Her previous roles at the Department of Public Health and the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission have empowered her to drive substantial reforms in the realms of behavioral health and criminal justice.

In 2023, the Sacramento Bee honored Dr. Early by naming her as a Black Change Maker. This distinguished honor was followed by being named a Most Admired CEO by the Sacramento Business Journal and a Woman in Leadership honoree by Comstock’s Magazine in 2024. Dr. Early’s leadership with United Way was also recognized by the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce as the Nonprofit of the Year in 2023 and as the recipient of the Centennial Business Hall of Fame Award from the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2024.

Beyond her professional commitments, Dr. Early is deeply involved in her community. She leads her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop and coaches youth basketball, demonstrating her passion for volunteerism and community engagement.

A proud triple-alum from the University of California, Davis, Dr. Early’s academic accomplishments include a master’s degree in child development and a PhD in human development with a minor in quantitative psychology. These achievements have equipped her with a comprehensive perspective on how to tackle the region’s most complex issues.

Dr. Dawnté Early’s commitment to enhancing the lives of others continues to leave a lasting impact. Her active engagement in uplifting her community underscores her profound influence in the community as both a nonprofit leader and elected official.