50 Most Powerful Black Women In Business

From the executive suite to the BE 100s, these dynamos are changing the direction of American business

veteran with Kraft, Sneed was part of a companywide initiative to thwart childhood obesity. In fact, all of the company’s advertising targeted to pre-teens now focuses on food products that meet nutritional guidelines. Sneed also oversees consumer strategy and promotions as well as packaging and design for more than 100 major brands. Sneed is a trustee of Teach for America, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and Simmons College.

PAMELA THOMAS-GRAHAM Group President Liz Claiborne Inc. New York, NY.
Age: 42
Clout: At Liz Claiborne’s helm since October, Thomas-Graham oversees the $1.3 billion women’s apparel label and manages a portfolio of brands, including Sigrid Olsen, Emma James, and Tapemeasure. Once the highest-ranking African American in the cable news industry, the former CNBC chairwoman operates a business twice the size of the TV network. She sits on the boards of Clorox and Idenix Pharmaceuticals and is a member of the Trustee’s Committee on Education at the Museum of Modern Art.

DENISE L. NAPPIER Treasurer State of Connecticut Hartford, CT. Age: 51
Clout: Nappier is a fire-brand when she attends shareholders’ meetings to do battle on behalf of the beneficiaries of the Connecticut Retirement Plans Trust Fund (CRPTF), the state pension fund. She gained a national reputation for her leadership in corporate governance issues and was among those shareholders who filed resolutions pushing for reform in corporate accounting practices in the wake of widespread abuses that led to the collapse of Enron, WorldCom, and others.
“Because so much of our pension fund assets are invested in the stock market, we have an obligation to vigorously exercise our proxy voting rights. So, everything I do in the area of corporate governance, I do it because I’m looking to protect and grow my investment in that company,” says Nappier, the first African American woman in the U.S. elected to serve as state treasurer. That’s good news for 160,000 teachers, state and municipal employees, and others who benefit from the academic programs, grants, and initiatives funded through CRPTF.
The Connecticut pension fund is one of the best performing public funds in the country and in the top third of public funds with assets exceeding $1 billion. Nappier is principal fiduciary of the $20 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds and was the architect of wide-ranging and successful reforms to Connecticut’s system of pension fund governance.
Elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002, Nappier says her No. 1 priority as treasurer is making sure the state is on sound financial footing, meaning the books are balanced, pension funds are secured, debt levels are managed, and investments achieve solid returns. In fact, she is credited with saving taxpayers and businesses millions of dollars through the state’s debt management program. Nappier also has invested money with black-owned private equity firms including Fairview Capital Partners Inc. (No. 1 on the BE PRIVATE EQUITY list with $1.6 billion om capital under management).
The Hartford native is treasurer of the National Association of State Treasurers and has received the Corporate Responsibility Leadership Award from Citizens for Economic Opportunity and the

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