Black Americans make up 12% of the country’s population, but less than 6% are appointed as chief executive officers (CEO). In November of 2022, CNBC announced that only 5.9% of all CEO’s in the United States are African American. Within those small percentages, Rosalind Brewer and Thasunda Brown Duckett are the only two Black women who have lead Fortune 500 companies.
Rosalind Brewer was born in Detroit, Michigan and attended college at Spelman in Atlanta, Georgia. As the youngest of five, Brewer and her siblings were their family’s first generation to pursue higher education. After graduating, she began her career in the 1980s at Kimberly-Clark where she held multiple leadership positions and mastered her skills in business.
Brewer is now the current CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA), the first Black woman to hold the role. WBA is an integrated healthcare, pharmacy, and retailer, with 13,000 locations in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.
Brewer is also the only Black woman to become the chief operating officer (COO) and group president of Starbucks, along with CEO and president of Sam’s Club. She serves as the chairperson of the board of trustees for Spelman College and is ranked #7 on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. Brewer was named one of the 25 most influential women by the Financial Times in 2021.
As she continues to be a pioneer in business, Brewer recently launched a Master Class in December of 2022. The class highlights how to drive innovation with integrity through discernment, staying authentic in business, being open to opportunities, questioning current circumstances, and being clear in setting goals for a successful outcome.
Thasunda Brown Duckett was born in Rochester, New York, but as an adolescent moved to Texas with her family, and later graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in finance and marketing. In addition to her Bachelor’s Degree, Duckett acquired an M.B.A., from Baylor University – Hankamer School of Business.
In 2021, she became president and CEO of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA). In 1918, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching established TIAA to provide guaranteed retirement income and life insurance to educators.
Duckett’s resume spans from working as CEO of Chase Consumer Banking and the CEO of Chase Auto Finance and National Retail Sales Executive for Chase Mortgage Banking. She serves on the boards of NIKE, Inc., Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, National Medal of Honor Museum, Economic Club of New York, University of Houston Board of Visitors, Dean’s Advisory Board for Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), The Business Council, Business Roundtable, and the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board.
Along with her many accomplishments and skill sets, Duckett is the founder and chair of the Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation, a non-profit that honors her parents and their contributions to the Black community. She is committed to the advancement and well-being of communities of color and securing guaranteed income for teachers across the country.
Rosalind Brewer and Thasunda Brown Duckett are history in the making. These women serve a purpose that expands Black representation in major corporations.