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Friday, January 18, 2019

3 Incredible and Influential Black CEOs in America

Influential Black CEOs

(left to right) Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co; Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP; and Marvin Ellison, CEO of Lowe’s

Nationwide — When it comes to the business world, Black people have struggled for years to gain the representation that they deserve in the workplace. Check out these three influential Black CEOs who worked hard to make waves for all people of color.

1. Kenneth Frazier
CEO of Merck & Co.

Thurgood Marshall was Kenneth Frazier’s childhood hero—his accomplishments wouldn’t be what they are today had he not followed Marshall’s trailblazing attitude. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978 and began a law career with Drinker Biddle & Reath soon after graduating.

The first African-American to lead a major pharmaceutical company, Frazier has been the CEO of Merck & Co. since 2011. The company has been incredibly successful since he’s taken over, and the stock price has almost doubled.

2. Jo Ann Jenkins

The small town of Theodore, Alabama, is where Jenkins started on her path to greatness. She completed the executive program at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and—after graduating—she became an executive assistant for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. From this point on, she continued to grow and take on high-level government jobs until landing as the chief of staff at the Library of Congress.

Thanks to her education and work experience, Jenkins had the opportunity to join the AARP. Since 2010, she has been the CEO of AARP, leading the world’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization. Her goal is to transform AARP into a leader for social change and empowerment.

3. Marvin Ellison
CEO of Lowe’s

Marvin Ellison grew up in Brownsville, Tennessee, to a large family. From the time he was young, Ellison was taught the importance of having a strong work ethic. His parents taught him that education is the path out of poverty—so he worked hard, graduated from The University of Memphis, and went on to receive his masters at Emory University.

Due to his driven attitude and business-savvy approach, he was able to hold his own as an executive at Home Depot from 2002 to 2014, and then as the J.C. Penney CEO until 2018. Marvin Ellison is now the acting CEO of Lowe’s where he continues to make profitable changes and shift mindsets within his company.

While all these influential Black CEOs took different paths to get where they are now, they all pushed the boundaries of a business world that’s quick to conform to standards that discourage diversity. Their similar work ethic and determination helped them persevere.