Power in the Boardroom

Our exclusive list of black corporate directors at America's 250 largest companies

of the [Baby] Bells. They wanted to learn how to become more consumer driven and market competitive.” When SBC merged with AT&T, she was the only SBC director placed on AT&T’s board.
Throughout her boardroom experience, RochÈ has made some tough calls. She was among the board members that ousted Mays Department Stores’ CEO when the chain was being acquired by Federated. “I was on the subcommittee looking for new candidates to replace the CEO,” says RochÈ. “It was a tumultuous point in time.” -CMB

The Activist:John W. Rogers Jr.
Title: Chairman and CEO, Ariel Capital Management L.L.C.
Boards: McDonald’s Corp., Exelon Corp., Aon Corp.
When John W. Rogers Jr. performs his duties as a corporate director, one of his guides is the copy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail that he keeps in his wallet. True to the activist philosophy espoused in that document, the top-ranked money manager asserts: “I’m going to help with the diversity initiatives of the corporate boards I’m on because it is not only the morally right thing to do, but it is also going to enhance the #success of the business.”
That passion led Rogers to co-found the Black Corporate #Directors Conference six years ago and last year’s introduction of the “Corporate Diversity Call To Action,” a charge for black directors to discuss how corporations can increase inclusive practices throughout an organization.
He has also pressed for greater African American #participation in 401(k) plans. “I’m on [McDonald's] compensation committee, and they talk about benefits,” he says. “As they looked at the data and realized this was an issue, they thought out solutions. The participation of African American managers within the 401(k) plan went from the fiftieth percentile to 90%.” That’s an example of Rogers’ brand of leadership. -DTD

The Public Servant: Franklin A. Thomas
Title: Consultant, The Study Group
Boards: Citigroup Inc., Alcoa Inc.
Franklin Thomas’ board memberships evolved from public service. It was 1967, and the young attorney was tapped to run Bedford Stuyvesant
Restoration Corp., an #organization charged with revitalizing one of Brooklyn, New York’s, deteriorating neighborhoods. This public-private #partnership, which brought together community representatives and the era’s most powerful CEOs, including CBS’ William Paley, IBM’s Thomas Watson, and Citibank’s George Moore, was a #revolutionary concept at the time. Thomas’ dexterity in managing that operation led to his invitation to Citibank’s board in 1970. Close to 40 years later, the bank has grown into the financial leviathan Citigroup. But one thing hasn’t changed: Thomas’ seat in the boardroom.
His sound judgment and mastery of board protocol earned him directorships with CBS, Cummins, and Alcoa. Thomas, who currently serves as a consultant for the Study Group and who is a former president of the Ford Foundation, has witnessed the #evolution of boards from bodies driven primarily by CEO-initiated issues to groups that are involved in more areas of oversight.
Another recent development: an increased emphasis on #public issues, ranging from the environment to community development. “These committees look to the reputation of the organization and its social role as well as its

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