Black Enterprise’s 6th Annual Women of Power Summit is fast approaching, kicking off in two weeks, February 23, 2011. What better way to prepare for the opening ceremony than to explore our top 10 Women of Power picks ? Check out the montage of savvy businesswomen, media mavens, and political powerhouses who are leaving their mark on history in their own way.–Janel Martinez
Paula Madison The journalist turned corporate diversity trailblazer has ascended the ranks from local newspaper reporter to current Executive Vice President of Diversity for NBC Universal and Company Officer for General Electric. Madison’s extensive media experience—20-plus years—has led her to become the first senior executive to be assigned diversity as a sole responsibility in the corporation’s history. As one of Black Enterprise’s 75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America, the Harlem native has raked up her share of accomplishments and awards such as a 1996 Peabody Award for WNBC’s investigation, A License to Kill, the Anti-Defamation League’s 2003 Deborah Award, Citizen of the Year Award from the City of Los Angeles Marathon in 2004, The Radio and Television News Directors Foundation’s First Amendment Service Award and the Houston Association of Black Journalists’ Pinnacle Award in 2008, to name a few.
Christina Norman The chief executive officer of OWN:The Oprah Winfrey Network, the new cable channel and multiplatform media venture, is a powerhouse in the broadcasting and entertainment arena. The savvy businesswoman has close to two decades of noteworthy experience, which has taken her from production manager for MTV’s in-house promotional spots to the president of MTV in 2005. Before that, Norman was president of VH1, bringing the network to its highest viewership levels in 19 years on the air. Recognized as one of BE’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, National Public Service winner by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2002 and Multichannel News’ Wonder Women in 2006, she has been widely acknowledged for her various accomplishments throughout her burgeoning career.
Dr. Brenda Wade The clinical psychologist, television host/personality, author (Power Choices: 7 Milestones on Your Journey to Wholeness, Love, Joy and Peace and co-author of What Mama Couldn’t Tell Us About Love and Love Lessons: A Guide to Transforming Relationships) and relationship guru is the founder of Heartline Productions.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (6th Annual Women of Power Legacy Award recipient) The civil rights and feminist leader is in her eleventh term as the Congresswoman for the District of Columbia. Since becoming involved in her state’s politics, Congresswoman Norton has worked tirelessly to bring complete democracy to the people of DC. She’s solidified infrastructure deals such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters and new headquarters for the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The Washingtonian has both created and preserved jobs in the DC area. When it comes to education, she’s responsible for making higher education in U.S. public colleges and universities available at in-state rates to D.C. residents. The congresswoman is dedicated to enhancing the lives of those living in the district.
Kimberly Stone The founder and chief executive officer of Poshglam.com created a hub for fashionistas or those simply in search of the latest trends and brands to get fashion and event news. Stone’s insider view—as a designer, model and publicist—has brought her success in carving out a space within this high-demand niche.
Ursula Burns Burns climbed the corporate ladder at Xerox Corp., starting as a summer mechanical engineering intern in 1980 and rising to president of the $22 billion company in 2002. In 2009, she was appointed CEO of the printing conglomerate, replacing Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy and making her the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company. Burns covered Black Enterprise’s Feb. 2010 issue and was featured on our list of 75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America and ranking 14 on our list of 40Titans: The Most Powerful African Americans in Business—and How They Shaped Our World.
Bethann Hardison (6th Annual Women of Power Legacy Award recipient) You might catch a glimpse of her while interviewing some of the modeling industry’s up-and-coming Black models on Vogue Italia’s website—where she’s editor-at-large, but Ms. Hardison is known just as much for what she’s done behind the scenes as she’s done in front of the camera. The former model, agent, businesswoman and writer started Bethann Management Co, Inc. in 1984, signing big name supermodels Naomi Campbell and Tyson Beckford. She’s made history with Beckford by signing him to an exclusive contract with designer Ralph Lauren. It was the first contract of its kind ever to be given to an African-American male model.
Bishop Barbara C. Harris (6th Annual Women of Power Legacy Award recipient) While the Philadelphia native worked in the public relations field for nearly 20 years, Bishop Harris always remained active in the Episcopal Church. From being ordained a priest to her consecration as a bishop (making Harris the first woman to be ordained to the episcopate in the worldwide Anglican Communion), the community organizer has always been passionate about peace and justice organizations, staying active on national church boards and committees. She is now retired, but remains active in social change movements.
Sage Steele In a male-dominated field like sports, the ESPNSportsCenter anchor is one of the few females standing—let alone African American women breaking down play-by-plays on-air. Steele joined the ESPN family in 2007. Prior to ESPN, she reported on regional markets as the beat reporter for the Indianapolis Colts and Tama Bay Buccaneers, a reporter at FoxSports Net and anchor for ComcastSportsNet.
Ntozake Shange (6th Annual Women of Power Legacy Award recipient) The award-wining poet and playwright, born Paulette L. Williams, is widely known for her powerful, thought provoking play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, which was recently made into a big-screen movie—For Colored Girls, directed by Tyler Perry. The choreopoem became a Broadway production in 1976, bringing Shange Golden Apple, Oboe and Outer Critics Circle Awards, in addition to Emmy, Tony and Grammy nominations. The author has penned several popular plays, including Three Pieces, Spell #7, Boogie Boogie Landscapes, and A Photograph in Motion, which won A Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, and Mother Courage and Her Children, for which she received her second Oboe Award. In addition to writing adult content, Shange has written several children’s books. Her most recent novel, Some Sing, Some Cry, was written with her younger sister, Ifa Bayeza.