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Before Oprah Winfrey, Here Are 11 Black Females Who Became Chief Executive Officers

The CEO positions in a company are often reserved for men. Most of the companies in the Fortune Top 500 companies are men and white. These 20 CEOs are not only black, they are females, too.


  • Rosalind G. Brewer


Rosalind G. Brewer became the first African American and female CEO of a division of Wal-Mart when she became President and CEO of Sam’s Club.


  • Ursula M. Burns


Ursula Burns became President of Xerox in 2007 and CEO in 2009.


  • Tracey E. Edmonds


After being an award-winning television producer and studio executive for years, Tracey created and became CEO of Edmonds Entertainment and CEO/President of Our Stories Films.


  • Amy S. Hilliard


Amy Hilliard is CEO of Hilliard’s Comfort Cake Co., distributor of Southern-style pound cakes to United Airlines, and Chicago Public Schools  to name a few. She is also the first African American to be board member of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade.


  • Janice Bryant Howroyd


Janice Bryant Howroyd is CEO of Act•1 Personnel Services. She also owns a travel agency, a maintenance company for electronic records and a drug screening and background check service.


  • Iman


Iman is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Iman Cosmetics, a brand patronized by colored women all over the world. She is also a fashion icon.


  • Sheila C. Johnson


Sheila is founder and CEO of Salamander Hospitality. She is also the first black woman to be a stakeholder of three pro sports teams.


  • Debra L. Lee


Lee became CEO of BET Holdings in 2005 after being at the helm of strategic business development.


  • Linda Johnson Rice


In 1987 and only 29 years old, Linda became CEO of Johnson Publishing Co which includes Ebony Cosmetics.


  • Desiree Rogers


Rogers became CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., the biggest black operated and owned publishing company in the world after being Obama’s White House Social Secretary.


  • Madam C.J. Walker


Walker is the first female and self-made millionaire in the US. She was sole shareholder and president of the Indiana based Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Co (hair growing business). She is considered as the original black Chief Executive Officer and creator of one of the largest manufacturing companies owned by a black in the world.



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