No. 23: Ann Fudge, The Barrier Breaker

Follow the Black Enterprise 40th Anniversary countdown of the most impactful black business leaders of the past 40 years

Ann Fudge rose to become president of the Maxwell House division of Kraft General Foods in 1994, making her the highest-ranking black woman in corporate America and one of the most powerful in the food industry. In 2003, she made history again when she was named Chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands and Y&R Advertising, the first African American to head a major ad agency.

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, Black Enterprise is taking a look both forward and backward at the world of black business. Our list of 40 “Titans: The Most Powerful African Americans in Business–and How They Shaped Our World” recognizes and pays homage to the entrepreneurs and business men and women who paved the way for all of us. Follow our countdown of the most important black business leaders of the four decades since Black Enterprise Magazine was founded in August 1970.

These are the men and women who fought the odds, suffered setbacks, regrouped, and eventually emerged victorious. Whether they conducted business from their own offices or the executive suite, their professional excellence, deal-making prowess, and unwavering advocacy converted promise into channels of prosperity and levers of power. These are the pioneers who withstood the elements—institutional racism, resistance from the business establishment, and lack of resources—to plant a flag on their own patch of territory.

These are the titans: bold leaders who shattered conventional modes of commerce. Because of their contributions over the past 40 years, the world of business has been transformed forever.

Be sure to pick up the commemorative 40th anniversary August 2010 issue of Black Enterprise, which contains the entire Titans list.

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