Meet Marvin R. Ellison, The Only Black CEO to Lead Two Fortune 500 Companies

Meet Marvin R. Ellison, the current CEO of Lowe’s, a Fortune 500 company and the country’s second-largest hardware chain. Ellison has been recognized with the company’s recent growth, which now employs over 300,000 people.

He spent more than a decade at The Home Depot before joining Lowe’s, where he began as a “asset protection,” a name for anti-theft tactics in the early 2000s, according to C-Suite Spotlight. He then advanced to senior-level operations positions, including executive vice president of US stores, where he was in charge of the entire operations of 2,000 stores with a total annual sales volume of $65 billion. He formerly worked at Target, where he held many positions of leadership. He was also chosen CEO of J.C. Penney in 2014, however he left the Fortune 500 business to join Lowe’s in 2018.

As a result, Ellison holds the unique distinction of being the only Black executive to serve as CEO of two different Fortune 500 companies.

The journey of a Black executive to the top of a Fortune 500 company was not simple. He comes from a modest sharecropper family in Tennessee. His family did not have indoor plumbing until he was six years old. Nonetheless, he attributes his achievement to his parents.

“Every day, my father got up and went to work with a great attitude, juggling as many as three jobs to help pay the bills and support his family,” Ellison told C-Suite Spotlight. “My parents would often say, ‘Don’t let your surroundings dictate your future,’ and emphasized education as the path out of poverty.”

His professionalism has won him multiple accolades, according to Lowe’s, with the notable ones being multiple appearances on Barron’s annual list of “Top CEOs”; inclusion on Fortune’s “Most Inspirational CEOs” and “World’s Greatest Leaders” lists; and being named “Father of the Year” by the National Father’s Day Council, “Corporate Executive of the Year” by Black Enterprise and one of Savoy’s “Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America.” In 2023, he received the National Retail Federation’s Visionary Award.


Ellis holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Memphis and has over 35 years of retail leadership and operations expertise. In addition, he has an MBA from Emory University. He is now a member of The University of Memphis’ board of trustees as well as FedEx Corporation’s board of directors.

Eight black persons presently lead Fortune 500 corporations, with Ellison being one of them. While this number is extremely low when compared to black CEOs for recognition, it is a significant gain.

The “Fortune 500” is a ranking of the top 500 corporations in the United States maintained by Fortune magazine and published annually since 1955.

According to records, only 23 Black CEOs have led America’s Fortune 500 companies since 1987. There were four Black CEOs managing Fortune 500 companies in 2020, when there were talks about diversity following the murder of George Floyd. According to Fortune, the number has now increased to eight, representing only 1.6% of all Fortune 500 CEOs.

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