Shelton Haynes

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

Shelton J. Haynes is the CEO and President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) and has held that title full-time since March 2021. In this position, Shelton Haynes works closely with the RIOC Board of Directors to ensure that the goals and objectives of the Corporation are fulfilled, allowing the Board to function effectively as a governing body.

As is the case for all CEOs, Shelton Haynes’ main responsibility is leading RIOC toward achieving its short-term and long-term goals and ensuring the corporation stays true to its philosophy and stated mission. Mr. Haynes is also responsible for ensuring all executive and administrative functions are properly executed and that the day-to-day functions of Roosevelt Island run smoothly.

Under the leadership of Shelton Haynes, Roosevelt Island has reemerged as a hidden gem previously lost in the shadow of the Big Apple. Mr. Haynes has overseen improvements to numerous parts of Roosevelt Island, including renovating the Blackwell House, Southpoint Park Shoreline restoration, replacing the Seawall Railing, renovating the Roosevelt Island Youth Center, renovating the Sportspark Complex, dedicating the FDR Hope Memorial, completing the Tram Elevator Project, and securing funding for the Riverwalk Building 9 project, to name a few.

Mr. Haynes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Hampton University and shortly thereafter began his career in government with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development.

Mr. Haynes is focused on projects and initiatives that directly impact the Roosevelt Island community and is focused on making Roosevelt Island one of the safest communities in New York City.

Before his time with RIOC, Mr. Haynes served as Chief Operating Officer at the Housing Authority of DeKalb County in Georgia, where he oversaw all agency operations, strategic and operational initiatives, and the executive management team.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

No day ever looks the same for me, but one thing is certain: I have my morning routine down packed. I get up every morning at 6 AM, break down the day ahead, make notes to myself, respond to emails, spend some time with the family, make sure to work out, and meditate. Meditation is a staple for a healthy and productive day for me.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Bringing ideas to life is my forte. Prior to becoming CEO, I spent some of my best years in operations, where I prided myself on bringing ideas to life. For me, it all starts with taking notes and placing them into different think buckets. Then I plan out strategic meetings, ensuring I have varying voices at the table for discussion. There we create a timeline, risk analysis, cross-benefit, and outcome needed for success. This process doesn’t happen successfully without having a lot of listening from the different subject matter experts.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Progress – excites me. Fanfare isn’t for me. It’s creating change. Seeing the work we do and how it impacts the lives of Roosevelt Island residents drives my excitement.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Having a consistent regimen has been the difference maker for me. The caveat is that even though life can be unpredictable and ad hoc things may arise, I still refer back to my regimen. That ultimately keeps me on course and assures positive outcomes.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to set your intentions and watch them manifest. Like most young people, I had to find my way, but my life began to evolve once I understood the power of focused goals and being intentional with my thoughts, words, and actions.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

That I am the best chess player in the household: The truth be told, my oldest son (17yrs old) may have been in the stratosphere but not quite yet.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Stay true to your authentic self, professionally and personally.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I reset and sit still, then I may take a walk. I would then somehow find a way to play chess on an app that serves as mental calisthenics for me.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Trello. Trello is a productivity software that is a great, easy-to-use tool that allows teams to receive updates on projects, and initiatives, chart successes, and identify challenges with proposed recommendations.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

It is challenging to identify my favorite book, but I will say that I have drawn so much from the book “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In this work, Coates addresses his teenage son and masterfully outlines the complexity of racial perception, biases, and the overall dangers that young black men are plagued with in American society. I found it to be relatable to some of my conversations with my sons on this subject matter and found Coates to be spot-on he was with his depiction.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

The Pursuit of Happyness is the first that comes to mind, although I have several movies that I quite enjoy. The determination, staying the course, adaptation, unconditional love, pain, and failure is not an option mentality, and ultimately perseverance are all of the reasons why I love this film.

Key learnings:

  • Invest in people and talent
  • Consistency is key to success
  • To achieve better understanding and grow, one must listen