Women’s History Month Trivia

by Matiara Huff

Question 5: Who is the first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company and currently serves as a founding board director of ‘Change the Equation’?

Ursula Burns

By U.S. Government Printing Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ursula Burns was the first black women to become the CEO of a fortune 500 company. She became CEO of Xerox in July 2009 until December 2016. In 2014 Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful women in the world. Though both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants, she was raised by her mother alone in a housing project in New York.

Her career at Xerox began as a summer internship which turned into a permanent position a year later when she finished her master’s degree at Columbia University. In January 1990, she became an executive assistant to a then senior executive. In June 1991, she became the executive assistant to then chairman and chief executive Paul Allaire. In 1999 she became vice president for global manufacturing. In May 2000, she became senior vice president of corporate strategic services where she worked closely with soon to be CEO Anne Mulcahy. They both described it as a true partnership.

Since she finished working at Xerox, Burns has become a founding Board Member of Change the Equation, which is an organization working to improve STEM-based education.