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TIAA names Thasunda Brown Duckett as CEO — first woman to helm financial giant

Black professionals face workplace bias
Black professionals face workplace bias 01:49

Financial services giant TIAA has named Thasunda Brown Duckett to succeed Roger W. Ferguson Jr. as CEO. That will make her the first woman to helm the company and only the second ever Black female chief executive in the Fortune 500. 

The historic announcement also marks the first time in Fortune 500 history that a Black CEO is succeeded at the top by another Black executive. Duckett will join TIAA on May 1 from JPMorgan Chase, where she was CEO of Chase Consumer Banking. 

Duckett, 47, began her career at Fannie Mae, leading affordable housing initiatives for people of color. She holds a B.A. in finance and marketing from the University of Houston and an MBA from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.

Ebony Magazine's Ebony's Power 100 Gala - Arrivals
Thasunda Brown Duckett attends Ebony Magazine's Ebony's "Power 100" gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 30, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California.  Leon Bennett

In her most recent role at Chase, Duckett led a banking network with more than $600 billion in deposits, 4,900 branches and over 40,000 employees. She undertook Chase's first major branch expansion in 10 years to add 400 new branches in 20 new markets over five years. The strategy reflected her commitment to building local communities by providing more jobs, neighborhood resources and access to financial services.

Out of 1,800 chief executives in the history of the Fortune 500, only 19 have been Black — a striking statistic given that Black people make up 13.4% of the U.S. population. Roz Brewer, recently tapped to lead Walgreens, is the only other Black woman to head up a Fortune 500 company.

The dearth of Black leadership at America's largest corporations, which has remained stubbornly low throughout the 65 years since the Fortune 500 list was first published in 1955, brings historic relevance to the choice of Duckett to follow Ferguson at the helm of TIAA.  

Racial bias in the workplace 06:48

"Thasunda is the right person to lead TIAA at a time when its work has never been more important and when the challenges of fostering financial stability and inclusion have never been greater," said Ferguson, who will remain as CEO until Duckett assumes her new role. 

Ferguson will continue to serve New York-based TIAA as an advisor.

"I often think about the day my father asked me to help him plan his retirement, and I had to tell him, 'Dad, your pension is not enough,'" Duckett said in a statement. "Now, thanks to his work and sacrifices and the support of many others who have guided me throughout my life and career, I am blessed to join TIAA, which has paid out over $500 billion of lifetime income and other benefits since its founding in 1918."

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