50 Most Powerful Black Women In Business

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

she co-headed the company’s global clearing and execution in the equity division. Prior to her current position, Cooper headed the company’s global futures business.

AMY ELLIS-SIMON Managing Director,Head of Multiproduct Sales Merrill Lynch New York, NY. Age: 33
Clout: Ellis-Simon heads a hard-driving team that generates millions of dollars in revenues. The first African American woman to become a managing director in investment banking at Merrill Lynch, Ellis-Simon is a one-stop shop for institutional investors looking for opportunities across all asset classes. She’s co-founder of the Global Markets and Investment Banking Women’s Leadership Council, a founder and chairperson of Three Sisters Scholarship Foundation, and a member of the Diversity Employee Advisory Council.

DIANA S. FERGUSON SVP of Strategy & Corporate Development Sara Lee Corp. Chicago, IL Age: 42
Clout: Ferguson is leading the ch
arge to divest Sara Lee of its non-core operations so it can focus solely on food, beverages, household products, and body care. As the highest-ranking African American female at the $18 billion conglomerate, Ferguson is charged with identifying opportunities for new acquisitions in each of Sara Lee’s business lines. In addition to serving on the board of directors of Franklin Electric and Peoples Energy, she also serves on the board of the nonprofit Metropolitan Family Services.

JERRI DEVARD Senior VP, Brand Management & Marketing Verizon New York, NY. Age: 47
To hear industry watchers tell it, DeVard is a shepherd of technology. She’s guiding a flock of 47.4 million Verizon customers to use the company’s services to enrich their personal and professional lives. At the end of the day, DeVard seeks the answer to one simple question: “How are we enabling technology to allow you to do things that are important to you?” Her response is to bolster the Verizon brand and communicate its value across its three business units: wireless, broadband, and information services. And by leveraging technology in marketing, DeVard has helped transform the telecom giant into the brand leader in this ultracompetitive sector.
Since joining the company in 2003, DeVard has pushed Verizon’s innovative technology with advertising campaigns such as “Richer, Deeper, Broader,” which touted how the company’s broadband capabilities impact people’s everyday lives. Another campaign, “Realize Your Dream,” was targeted to would-be entrepreneurs. DeVard’s marketing strategies have been a key factor in Verizon posting $71 billion in revenues in 2005 as well as increasing its market share.
The marketing whiz joined Verizon after stints at Citigroup, where she served as chief marketing officer of its e-consumer business, and Revlon, where she rose to vice president of marketing for color cosmetics. Her secret for success, she says, is being a student of human behavior — understanding how people choose one brand over another. She developed an interest in creating consumer demand while completing her M.B.A. at Clark Atlanta University Graduate School of Management. “I was able to hone that craft by going to work for Pillsbury, a consumer-packaged-goods company,” says DeVard.
She serves on the boards of Tommy Hilfiger Corp., the Association of National Advertisers, the Executive Leadership Council, and the Pepsi African

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