Black Chairman & CEO's of Fortune 500 Companies

The "Fortune 500"  is a list of the 500 largest companies in the United States as compiled by Fortune magazine. Only 15 black executives have ever made it to the Chairman or CEO position of a "Fortune 500" listed company. Of these 15 executives, there are currently 3 active, representing 1% of the Fortune 500 top leadership.

In 1987, Dr. Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. became Chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF — distinguishing him as the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company. 

Franklin Raines became the second black person to lead a "Fortune 500" company, when he became CEO of Fannie Mae in 1999. 

On July 1, 2009, Ursula Burns became the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company. Ms. Burns stepped down as the CEO of Xerox in late 2016, following the completion of the separation of Xerox into two independent, publicly-traded companies. She will serve as chairman of the board of the post-separation Document Technology company.

Black executive representation in the C-suite of America's largest companies has been on the decline. Marvin Ellison, who served as chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney for nearly three years and helped to revive the struggling department store chain, left the company in May 2018, to become head of Lowe’s. Kenneth Chenault stepped down as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express at the end of January 2018. He was the fourth black CEOs to have retired over the last three years. Ursula Burns left her post as head of Xerox in 2016 when the company split in two, and Rodney O'Neal retired from his role as CEO and president of Delphi in 2015. Don Thompson retired as CEO of McDonald's in 2015, as well.

There are currently no black majority owned company in the Fortune 500 rankings.

Current Fortune 500 Chairman & CEO's

Born: April 24, 1949, in Fort Dix, New Jersey Position: Chairman, Board of Directors, Company: Microsoft Corporation, Industry: Technology …

Born: December 17, 1954, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Position: Chairman, Chief Executive Officer; Company: Merck & Co., Inc.; Industry: Health…

Born: October 28, 1951, Washington, D.C.; Position: President and CEO; Company: TIAA-CREF; Industry: Insurance; Country: United States

Former Fortune 500 Chairman & CEO's

Born: May 28, 1954, Houston, TX.; Position: Former CEO and President; Company: Potbelly Sandwich Works; Industry: Food Services; Country: United…

Born: April 11, 1956, Vicksburg, Mississippi; Position: Former Chief Executive Officer and President; Company: Darden Restaurants, Inc.; Industry:…

Born: September 13, 1926, Boston, MA; Position: former chairman, CEO; Company: TIAA-CREF; Industry: Insurance; Country: United States

Born: March 30, 1963, Chicago, IL.; Company: Cleveland Avenue, LLC; Position: Founder, CEO; Industry: Venture Capital & Private Equity; Country:…

Born: January 14, 1949, Seattle, Washington Company: Revolution LLC Position: Director Industry: Financial Services Country: United States

Kenneth Chenault

Born: June 2, 1951, New York, New York; Company: General Catalyst Partners; Position: Chairman, managing director; Industry: Venture capital; …

Company: CleanTech Solutions Worldwide, LLC, Position: Chairman and CEO, Industry: Waste Management Services, Food Manufacturing, Country:…

Position: Chairman, President and CEO; Company: J.C. Penney; Industry: Retail; Country: United States

Richard Parsons

Born: April 4, 1948, Brooklyn, NY; Position: Co-founder and Partner; Company: Imagination Capital; Industry: Venture Capital; Country: United…

Born: c. 1954 Company: Delphi Corporation Position: Chief Executive Officer and President Industry: Automotive Country: United States

Born: 1949, Chicago, Illinois, United States Company: RW2 Enterprises Position: Chairman and CEO Industry: Health Care Country: United States

Born: Oct. 7, 1951, Roanoke, Ala. Company: Alcoa Inc. Position: Director Industry: Financial Services Country: United States

Born: New York, New York, September 20, 1958; Position: former Chairman and CEO; Company: Xerox Corporation; Industry: Information technology; …