ask for a better role model — her legendary father, JPC founder, chairman and CEO John H. Johnson.
34, President, The Smiley Group Inc. As the host of BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley, a live, call-in talk show, Smiley’s become as influential as many of the people he interviews. For example, he was primarily responsible for shutting down a Christie’s auction of African American slavery paraphernalia in two hours. It’s not surprising that his first love is politics, a calling he fully intends to pursue when he leaves television.
38, President & CEO, Network Commerce Inc. Walker, who heads a cutting-edge e-commerce business serving smaller retailers and large corporations, extends his influence by investing in and advising other technology ventures. What’s next? How about his firm joining the ranks of publicly traded tech companies led by black CEOs? Network Commerce was listed on the nasdaq exchange last fall, raising more than $200 million through public offerings.
Jimmie Lee Solomon III
43, Sr. Vice President/Baseball Operations, Major League Baseball. Solomon oversees major league operations, minor league operations, international operations, the major league scouting bureau, the Arizona fall league, the upcoming Rocky Mountain Rookie League and special projects. (Hey, Jimmie — what’s left?) A former executive director of minor league operations, Solomon should solidify his standing as one of the most influential African Americans in the business of sports.
43, Chairman & CEO, Blaylock & Partners. Blaylock has taken his firm from No. 7 on the 1999 be investment banks list to No. 1 on the 2000 list, being tapped as one of eight co-managers of a record-setting $8 billion bond offering by AT&T along the way. An ardent supporter of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Wall Street Project and a consummate deal maker, Blaylock will prove himself a powerful and influential player in the industry for years to come.
37, President & CEO, CNBC.com. With the additional designation of executive vice president of NBC, Thomas-Graham is the network’s highest-ranking black executive. A former partner at McKinsey & Co., the world’s largest consulting firm, Thomas-Graham supervises the management team for the financial website, which serves the United States as well as 140 countries across Europe and Asia.
43, Editor, Newsweek. Whitaker became the first black editor of a national newsweekly in 1998 — 21 years after serving an internship at Newsweek while a student at Harvard. As editor of a newsweekly with more than 3.1 million subscribers, Whitaker’s influence on people, politics, and policy is not only national, but global: Newsweek is published in Russian, Spanish, Korean and Japanese. An Arabic version of the magazine was launched in June.
43, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Kennard’s pursuit of competition in the telecommunications industry and access to technology for every American has earned him a reputation as a public advocate for the Digital Age. He will continue to play a critical role in the struggle to close the digital divide facing African Americans — a gulf that literally separates the haves from the have nots in a technology-driven New Economy.