With the mission of expanding black corporate leadership across the globe, the Executive Leadership Council, a network of the nation’s most powerful African American executives, announced the changing of the guard at its Annual Recognition Gala last night. At the hot-ticket event that attracts a Who’s Who of business leaders, the group selected corporate veteran Arnold Donald its new president and CEO.
ELC Chair Jessica Isaacs said, “We have found the best individual possible – one who can embrace our traditions as we seek to have an impact on global leadership. “ In making the announcement, she ticked off Donald’s numerous accomplishments, which included his most recent role as CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the world’s largest charity funding such activities; Chairman of Merisant Company, manufacturer of food product sweeteners; and a senior executive at Monsanto, the mammoth agricultural biotech company. In fact, during his tenure at Merisant, he was named the 1997 BLACK ENTERPRISE Corporate Executive of the Year.
Donald, who will assume the position on Nov. 1, says ELC will seek to demonstrate that “the power inclusion in the C-suite can result in advancing major corporations and growth of increasing shareholder value.” Although he did not offer details on his new management thrust, Donald maintained his commitment to key planks of ELC’s agenda: global expansion of black senior management ranks; preparation of African Americans executives for corporate board positions; networking and professional development; and programs that will impact African American communities.
At the event, the organization also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Reatha Clark King, former president and chair of the General Mills Foundation and a member of Black Enterprise’s Registry of Corporate Directors. ELC’s achievement honor went to Don Thompson, president & COO of McDonald’s and the 2007 Black Enterprise Corporate Executive of the Year; and the Corporate Award was given to McDonald’s for its diversity efforts. As part of its new “community impact initiative,” ELC also raised $500,000 for the LEAD (Leadership, Education and Development) program, which places black high school students on professional and business tracks.