Thasunda Brown Duckett Becomes Third Ever Black Woman Fortune 500 CEO


Mar. 2 2021, Published 5:40 a.m. ET

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TIAA, the financial services just named Thasunda Brown Duckett as their new CEO. This makes Duckett one of two Black women serving in such a role in a Fortune 500 company and only the third in history to hold such a position. If we count Mary Winston serving as the former interim CEO of Bed, Bath & Beyond, Duckett is the fourth.

This announcement came in swift succession after Walgreens named their new CEO, Rosalind Brewer, after a four-year deficit in Black women holding such a role at the 500 level.

Duckett shared personal thoughts on the change in her position in the world, “I often think about the day my father asked me to help him plan his retirement, and I had to tell him, ‘Dad, your pension is not enough. Now, thanks to his work and sacrifices and the support of many others who have guided me throughout my life and career, I am blessed to join TIAA.”

There are currently 40 women serving as CEOs at the 500 level out of the 500 companies currently in that bracket – a record for the number of women in said position. The huge disparage is noticeable for anyone without doing the math. Duckett will become the 41st on May 1 when she assumes the position, barring no other such decisions in the meantime.

TIAA stands for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America and ranks at 81 in the list of wealthiest companies, with $1.1 trillion in assets under management in 2019 and $40 billion in revenue for that year.

Retiring TIAA CEO, Roger W. Ferguson Jr. said of Duckett, “Thasunda is the right person to lead TIAA at a time when its work has never been more important and when the challenges of fostering financial stability and inclusion have never been greater. I am very grateful and heartened that we have found a leader who is as inspired by our mission as I have been.”

Duckett adds, “I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to lead a company that has helped millions of people retire with ‘enough’ to live in dignity and excited about the opportunity to help TIAA chart its next 100 years.”

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By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

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