Nearly everyone knows Oprah Winfrey and Russell Simmons, but there are many other African-Americans that are titans of industry. Here’s seven notable African-American business people you may not know.
Kenneth I. Chenault – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at American Express. Chenault, who began his career at American Express in 1977, is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Law. He also find time to give back, sitting on over 10 boards including the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, Mount Sinai NYU Medical Center & Health System, American Academy of Arts & Sciences and The Arthur Ashe Institute of Urban Health.
Lisa P. Jackson – Head of Environmental Affairs at Apple. Make no mistake, Jackson is one smart woman. She holds a master's degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University. Prior to her work at Apple she served as Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection and as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 to 2013.
Laysha L. Ward – Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Target. Ward is a graduate of Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in social services administration from the University of Chicago. She is a shining example of rising through the ranks, as, according to the Huffington Post, she began her career at Target in 1991 in store sales at Marshall Field’s in Chicago.
Kenneth Frazier – Chairmen and CEO of pharmaceutical company Mereck & Co. Frazier joined Mereck in 1992 and worked his way up to the top of the company in 2011. In that time, he held multiple titles within Merck's legal division, which we're sure that J.D. from Harvard Law School helped him attain.
Robert L. Johnson – Founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET.) Just how successful and historic is Robert L. Johnson? Well, when you become the very first African-American billionaire in U.S. history, you've done pretty well for yourself. We're pretty sure the University of Illinois and Princeton University are pretty happy to have him as an alumnus, too.
Ursula M. Burns – Chairman and CEO of Xerox from 2010-2016. Burns holds a very impressive first as being the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. With Bachelor and Master degrees in Mechanical Engineering, she was chosen by President Barack Obama in 2009 to lead the White House's STEM for All program that focused on making education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics a higher priority for America's students.
Myron Gray – President of U.S. Operations for UPS. Imagine being responsible for making sure all packages from UPS are delivered in a timely manner. That's Gray's job, in a nutshell. And to think, his career at UPS started back in 1978 as a part-time package handler while working his way through college at the University of Memphis and eventually Yale School of Business.