An Evening WIth Ursula Burns

Saturday 4/13/2013

The New York Times Center

New York City, New York

 An Evening With Ursula Burns, is a one-on-one interview of Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox.Taped in front of a live audience at the New York Times Center and hosted by veteran PBS-TV news journalist Gwen Ifill. the program explores the life and career of Burns, the first African American woman to head a Fortune 500 company. The audience watches in amazement as the interview provides an inside look into this business and civic icon. A lifelong New Yorker, Ursula Burns tells of her poor upbringing on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, her mother’s, Olga’s efforts to raise three children on her own, Burns’ start at the Xerox Cooperation as a young engineer and intern and her meteoric rise through the corporate ranks. 

 Intermixed throughout the program are live appearances of Ursula Burns mentors. Former Xerox CEO, Paul Allaire, tells of how Burns initially spurned his offer to become his executive assistant. Former Xerox CEO, Anne Mulcahy tells of how she and Ursula spearheaded a turnaround of Xerox during financially precarious period for Xerox. They worked as true partners and made history when Ursula became the first female to succeed another female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Then, business and civic leader Vernon Jordan speaks of the importance of Burns’ journey and how it symbolizes how she overcame class, race and gender in order to do so. Others provide their perspectives on her trailblazing career and her family life. They include: American Express CEO, Executive Leadership Counsel’s Executive Director and Viacom Senior Vice President Marva Smalls as well as her husband, daughter, son and sister: Lloyd Bean, Malcolm Bean, Melllisa Bean and Deborah Eastman.


Burns earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University. In 1980, she started at Xerox as a summer intern, permanently joining a year later, in 1981, after completing her master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. During her thirty year career, Burns worked in a variety of roles that included product development, planning, senior vice president and president. 

 An Evening With Ursula Burns was produced by The HistoryMakers, a 501(c)(3) Illinois, not-for-profit corporation. The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive, is committed to the development of a unique online archive of 5,000 first-person narratives of African Americans, both well-known and unsung.  When completed in, the archive will represent the largest one of its kind in the world (

Ursula M. Burns

  Burns earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.  She joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern, the company was the leader in the global photocopying market. As she later assumed roles in product development and planning, the company was securing its leadership position in digital document technologies. From 1992 through 2000, Burns, at a pivotal point in the company’s history, led several business teams including the company’s color business and office network printing business. Burns was named chief executive officer in July 2009 and shortly after, made the largest acquisition in Xerox history, the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services, catapulting the company’s presence in the $500 billion business services market and extending the company’s reach into diverse areas of business process.On May 20, 2010, Burns became chairman of the company, leading the 140,000 people of Xerox who serve clients in more than 160 countries. Building on Xerox’s legacy of innovation, they’re enabling workplaces – from small businesses to large global enterprises -- to simplify the way work gets done so they can focus more on what matters most: their "Real Business". In addition to the Xerox board, she is a board director of the American Express Corporation and Exxon Mobil Corporation. Burns also provides leadership counsel to community, educational and non-profit organizations including FIRST - (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), National Academy Foundation, MIT, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others. She is a founding board director of Change the Equation, which focuses on improving the U.S.’s education system in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In March 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Burns vice chair of the President’s Export Council.   


Gwen Ifill 

 Gwen Ifill is moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and a senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She is also the best-selling author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Ms. Ifill reports on a wide range of issues including both foreign affairs and U.S. politics and policies. She has covered six presidential campaigns and moderated two vice presidential debates -- the 2004 debate between Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat John Edwards and the 2008 debate between Democratic Senator Joe Biden and Republican Governor Sarah Palin. Ifill joined both Washington Week and The NewsHour in 1999, interviewing newsmakers and reporting on issues ranging from foreign affairs to politics. In doing so, Ifill became the first African American woman to host a prominent political talk show. Before moving to PBS, Ifill spent five years at NBC News as chief congressional and political correspondent and still appears on Meet the Press. Ifill has also had a successful career as a newspaper reporter. Prior to her 1994 move to NBC, Ifill worked at The New York Times where she covered the White House and politics. She also covered national and local affairs for The Washington Post, Baltimore Evening Sun, and the Boston Herald American. “I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, and my first love was newspapers,” Ifill said. “But public broadcasting provides the best of both worlds—combining the depth of newspapering with the immediate impact of broadcast television.” Ifill has received more than a dozen honorary doctorates and is the recipient of several broadcasting excellence awards including honors from the National Press Foundation, Ebony Magazine, the Radio Television News Directors Association, and American Women in Radio and Television. A native of New York City and graduate of Simmons College in Boston, Ifill serves on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Harvard University Institute of Politics, and the News Literacy Project. Ifill also interviewed Diahann Carroll, Quincy Jones, Eartha Kitt, and Smokey Robinson for The HistoryMakers’ popular annual PBS-TV series An Evening With… 



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 Honorary Co-Chair


                               Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg  

Event Chair

                     Vernon E. Jordan  

Event Co-Chairs

Glenn A. Britt                  Jessica Isaacs Marva Smalls
Kenneth Chenault W. James McNerney Laysha Ward
  C. Allen Parker  



 Benefit Committee  

Gwen Adolph                        Mercer Cook              Al B. Reid
Marilyn F. Booker Valerie D. Lewis Angela Vallot
Antoinette Cook Bush Robert Raben Reggie Van Lee