Trailblazers

Carol H. Williams
1986 The first ever African American creative director in the U.S. launches her namesake advertising agency. She is credited with the iconic slogan “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman,” which catapulted Secret antiperspirant to the top spot. In 2011, her agency ranked No. 5 on the be advertising agencies list with $17.8 million in revenues.

Oprah Winfrey
1986 The Oprah Winfrey Show is nationally syndicated and Harpo Inc. is formed. After establishing Harpo Productions, Harpo Studios, and Harpo Films, in 2000 Winfrey launches O, The Oprah Magazine and in 2011 OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The legendary businesswoman and humanitarian has assets worth an estimated $2.7 billion and Harpo Inc. is No. 12 on the be industrial/service companies list with $289 million in revenues.

Barbara Bowles
1989 Bowles, the first African American female equity manager in Chicago, establishes the Kenwood Group. In 1996 she becomes the first African American woman to launch a mutual fund with the debut of the Kenwood Growth and Income Fund.

Jennifer Lawson
1989 Lawson’s appointment as executive vice president, programming and promotion services at PBS makes her public television’s first chief programming executive.

Yvette Lee Bowser
1993 Cosby protégée and A Different World television writer-producer, Bowser lands a deal with Warner Bros. Television, making her the first African American woman to develop her own prime-time series—Living Single, starring Queen Latifah on the Fox network. Her company, Sister Lee Productions, later produces the sitcom Half & Half.

Ann Fudge
1993 Fudge is named president of the Maxwell House division of Kraft General Foods, making her the highest-ranking black woman in corporate America and one of the most powerful in the food industry. In 2003 she becomes Chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands and Y&R Advertising, the first African American to head a major ad agency.

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ACROSS THE WEB
  • Winifed Williams

    March 19, 2012
    Dear Sir,
    As a child I remember the excitement and joy over the achievement of my cousin, Mary ruth Johnson. At the time Mary Ruth became the head of the
    personnel department at the Pratt & Whitney Co., in Kansas City, Missouri. It was the first time a Black woman had held that position.
    Her pictured appeared either in the Kansasa City, Star, or the Black newspaer.
    Sincerely,
    Winifred Williams