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Aster Angagaw

Corporate executive Aster Angagaw was born on April 7, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She received her B.A. degree in organizational management 1993 from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and her M.B.A. degree from the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2004. Angagaw also participated in the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program, graduating in 2018.

In 1995, Angagaw was hired at Sodexho Inc. and was later promoted to vice president of operations in 2000. She then served as senior vice president of strategy, planning and quality for Sodexho, where she led the development of business strategies and participated in the development of global strategy development processes. In 2008, Angagaw became senior vice president of market development for Sodexo’s corporate and leisure market and was charged with leading and implementing overall sales and business development strategies. Later, in 2012, she was promoted as Sodexo’s vice president of global transformation. In this role, Angagaw participated in the design of the new global organization as well as led the coordination of Sodexo’s change management effort to become the leader of Quality of Life services. In 2015, Angagaw served as senior vice president, global head of sales and business development for Sodexo. The following year, she was promoted to CEO of healthcare for Sodexo North America, responsible for their healthcare business in the U.S. and Canada, with a focus on improving the patient experience. Angagaw also served as a member of the Global Executive Team and the North America Regional Leadership Committee. In 2019, she left Sodexo upon being named president of ServiceMaster Brands, a provider of commercial and residential cleaning and pest control supplies headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.

Angagaw received the 2014 Diversity Leadership Council’s Leadership Excellence award and was listed among the Uptown Professional’s Top 100 Executives in America. She was also named Savoy Magazine’s Top Influential Women in Corporate America. In 2016, Angagaw received the Value Measurement for Healthcare certificate from Harvard Business School Executive Education. In 2018, she was named as one of the 300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America by Black Enterprise.

Aster Angagaw was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 26, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.021

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/26/2019

Last Name

Angagaw

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Our Lady of Perpetual Help School

Kokebe Tsibah High School

Mount Ida College

Eastern University

Temple University

Harvard University

First Name

Aster

Birth City, State, Country

Addis Ababa

HM ID

ANG02

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sardinia

Favorite Quote

There Is A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

4/7/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

Ethiopia

Favorite Food

All Cuban Food

Short Description

Corporate executive Aster Angagaw (1963 - ) was senior vice president, global head of sales and business development, and CEO of Healthcare for Sodexo North America before being named president of ServiceMaster Brands.

Employment

Sodexo

Wood Company

Spirit Cruises

Favorite Color

Yellow

Mark Tatum

Sports executive Mark Tatum was born on October 22, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York to Kim and Charlie Tatum. Tatum grew up in New York’s East Flatbush neighborhood. In 1987, Tatum graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, where he led the baseball team to the New York City public school championship at Yankee Stadium in 1984. In 1991, he received his B.S. degree in business management and marketing from Cornell University. Tatum went on to receive his M.B.A. degree in 1998 from Harvard Business School.

In 1991, Tatum was hired by Procter & Gamble as a corporate account executive and was later promoted to corporate account executive. In 1995, he joined the Clorox Company, where he served as a regional sales manager and oversaw the company's $100 million northeast sales territory. After graduating from Harvard Business School Tatum joined Major League Baseball’s department of corporate sponsorships in 1998. A year later, Tatum was hired by the National Basketball Association (NBA) as senior vice president of marketing partnerships. In 2009, Tatum served as executive vice president of global marketing partnerships at the National Basketball Association, where he managed corporate sponsorships for companies such as American Express, Anheuser-Bush Inc., and Kia Motors. In 2014, he was appointed deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the National Basketball Association and became the highest-ranking executive of color in a professional sports league. As deputy commissioner, Tatum is responsible for the NBA’s technology advancements, launched the Basketball Africa League, and developed programs in China and India.

Tatum is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, and sits on the boards of USA Basketball, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, LA 2028 Summer Olympics, and the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors. He is chair of the Harvard Business School Club of New York and member of the board of directors for The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

In 2006, 2007, and 2008, Tatum received the Forty Under 40 Award from Sports Business Journal, making him a member of the publication’s Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame. In 2014 and 2015, Tatum was named to the list of the 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business by Sports Business Journal. In 2016, Tatum was named to Forbes’ list of the Top 25 Most Influential Minorities in Sports.

Tatum and his wife, Lisa Skeete Tatum, have two sons: Tai and Kylan.

Mark Tatum was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 16, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.072

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/16/2019

Last Name

Tatum

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

PS 181

IS 227

Brooklyn Technical High School

Cornell University

Harvard Business School

First Name

Mark

Birth City, State, Country

Vung Tau

HM ID

TAT07

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Find your passion and pursue your dreams.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/22/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Vietnam

Favorite Food

Oxtail with Rice and Peas

Employment

National Basketball Association

Major League Baseball

Clorox Company

Proctor & Gamble

Favorite Color

Red

Lydia Mallett

Corporate executive Lydia G. Mallett was born on August 22, 1954 in Detroit, Michigan to Conrad Mallett Sr. and Claudia Mallett. In 1976, Mallett received her B.A. degree in psychology from Michigan State University. She went on to receive her M.A. degree in labor and industrial relations in 1979 and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in social psychology in 1981, all from Michigan State University.

After serving as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan-Flint School of Management, Mallett moved to Chicago, Illinois to join James H. Lowry Associates as a consultant. She later served as director of human resources advisory at Coopers & Lybrand. Mallett went on to serve as vice president/chief diversity officer at General Mills, where she designed and implemented a co-mentoring strategy for women and people of color. In 1999, she served as director of human resources for the Snacks Unlimited division of General Mills. In 2004, Mallett was hired by Tyco International as vice president of staffing and vice president of diversity and inclusion. Eight years later, she joined DuPont as director of global talent acquisition, chief diversity officer, and employee engagement leader. In 2018, she attended Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program, “Women on Boards: Succeeding as a Corporate Director.” The same year, Mallett served as managing director of Mallett Consulting & Associates in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mallett is a board member of the Feminist Press and a member of the American Psychological Association. Mallett served as chair of the Executive Leadership Council’s governance committee and as chair of the Conference Board’s Council on Global Diversity. She was elected president of the Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund and served as the White House appointment for the National Women’s Business Council. Mallett served as president of the Chicago chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women before being elected national president in 1997. In 2011 and 2018, she was listed as a Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise.

Mallett lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her partner Stanley White. She has one daughter, Noel.

Lydia Mallett was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.069

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/13/2019

Last Name

Mallett

Maker Category
Middle Name

Gwendolyn

Occupation
Schools

Michigan State University

First Name

Lydia

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

MAL11

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Do you want to be heard, or do you want to have your say?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

8/22/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

USA

Favorite Food

King Crab Legs

Short Description

Corporate executive Lydia G. Mallett (1954- ) served in executive positions at General Mills, Tyco International, and DuPont.

Employment

The University of Michigan-Flint

James H. Lowry Associates

Coopers & Lybrand

General Mills

General Mills, Snacks Unlimited Division

Tyco International, Inc.

E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Mallett Consulting & Associates

Wayne County Government

Favorite Color

Red

Milton Irvin

Investment banker Milton Irvin was born on June 18, 1949 in Orange, New Jersey to Milton M. Sr., and Dorothy W. Irvin. A graduate of Essex Catholic Boys High School in 1967 in Newark, New Jersey, Irvin received his B.S. degree in marine engineering in 1971 from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York and his M.B.A. degree in finance in 1974 from the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

Irvin joined Chase Manhattan Bank as corporate lending officer and assistant treasurer from 1974 to 1977. He then went to work for Salomon Brothers, Inc. in New York City from 1977 to 1988. Irvin then served as managing director at Paine Webber Inc. from 1988 to 1990 and then re-joined Salomon Brothers, Inc. as managing director, and the firm’s first African American partner where he worked from 1990 to 1998 and handled short-term debt securities for Salomon’s clients. Irvin was appointed to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation as chair of the Advisory Committee by President Bill Clinton and served from 1995 to 1998. He then joined Blaylock & Partners as president, chief operating officer and partner. Irvin was named managing director at UBS Investment Bank where he led the strategic and tactical execution of diversity initiatives. He also served as UBS global head of career mobility advisor office, talent executive for Leadership Development Program (ASCENT), and global head of recruiting and training for the Fixed Income, Rates and Currency Department from 2002 to 2012.

Irvin was appointed by President Barack Obama for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He also was appointed chairman of the Board of Advisors at CastleOak Securities in 2012. He served as non-executive chairman at NexTier Companies, LLC., a multi-disciplined consulting and investment advisory in 2013. Governor Nikki Haley appointed Irvin to serve on the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees in 2015. Irvin was elected chairman of the Board of Trustees for South Carolina State University in 2018.

Irvin was named one of The 25 Hottest Blacks on Wall Street by Black Enterprise magazine.

Milton and his wife Melody have three adult children including Brandon, Viola and Kesi.

Milton Irvin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 23, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.145

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/23/2018

Last Name

Irvin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament School

Essex Catholic High School

United States Merchant Marine Academy

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

First Name

Milton

Birth City, State, Country

Orange

HM ID

IRV02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Antigua

Favorite Quote

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

South Carolina

Birth Date

6/18/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hilton Head

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Investment banker Milton Irvin (1949- ) was managing director at UBS Investment Bank and before that, he was managing director at Paine Webber Inc. and Salomon Brother and prior to that, president and chief operating officer of Blaylock & Partners.

Favorite Color

Blue

Al Zollar

Corporate executive Alfred “Al” Zollar was born in 1954 in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended Paseo High School in Kansas City and then graduated from Mills High School in Millbrae, California. He went on to receive his M.A. degree in applied mathematics from the University of California at San Diego in 1976.

Zollar joined IBM Corporation in 1977 as a systems engineer trainee in the company’s San Francisco office. After working in systems engineering for ten years, he was transferred to IBM’s White Plains, New York headquarters in 1986 as a member of the corporate staff. Zollar was promoted to product manager for IBM's relational database software DB2 in 1989; and was made laboratory director at the IBM Software Group laboratory in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1993. In 1996, IBM bought software maker Tivoli and appointed Zollar senior vice president of development. He was promoted again to general manager of IBM's Network Computing Software Division in 1998; and, in 2000, was named president and chief executive officer of IBM’s Lotus Development Corporation. Three years later, Zollar left Lotus to become the general manager of iSeries, IBM's range of servers aimed at small and medium-sized companies. He then served as general manager of IBM Tivoli Software, a global, multi-billion dollar business within IBM's software division, from 2004 until 2011. Zollar retired from IBM in January of 2011 and became an executive partner of the Siris Capital Group in 2014.

Zollar has served on the boards of the Chubb Corporation and PSEG Incorporated. He is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council, and a lifetime member of the National Society of Black Engineers. He was ranked #15 on Fortune magazine’s 2002 list of Most Powerful Black Executives; named one of the 50 most important African Americans in technology by US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine in 2004; one of the 100 most powerful executives in corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine in 2009; and one of fifty distinguished alumni of the University of California at San Diego in 2011. In addition, Zollar was a Harvard University Fellow in the 2011 cohort of the Advanced Leadership Initiative, and was issued a U.S. patent for “Trust and Identity in Secure Calendar Sharing Collaboration,” in 2012.

Alfred “Al” Zollar was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.114

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/9/2014 |and| 5/10/2014

Last Name

Zollar

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Paseo High School

Mills High School

University of California, San Diego

First Name

Al

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

ZOL03

State

Missouri

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/18/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Short Description

Corporate executive Al Zollar (1954 - ) was, executive partner with the Siris Capital Group. He worked at IBM for over thirty years in several leadership positions, including as president and CEO of IBM’s Lotus Development Corporation and general manager of IBM Tivoli Software.

Employment

IBM

Siris Capital Group

Ted Childs, Jr.

Diversity strategist J.T. (Ted) Childs, Jr. was born on November 26, 1944 in Springfield, Massachusetts to John and Clara Childs. He graduated from Classical High School in 1962, and received his B.A. degree in psychology from West Virginia State University in 1967.

Upon graduation, Childs joined IBM as a personnel administration trainee. He went on to work in several staff and managerial positions at IBM, including program manager of personnel operations. He was subsequently appointed IBM's vice president of global workforce diversity, where he oversaw the company's diversity programs and policies. From March of 1983 to September of 1984, Childs served as executive assistant to Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the NAACP, on an IBM Social Service Leave. In 1989, he was appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to the New York State Governor’s Advisory Council on Child Care; and, in 1995, Childs was appointed as an official delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. In 1997, U.S. Treasury Secretary, Robert E. Rubin, appointed Childs as an advisor to the Secretary’s Working Group on Child Care. In 2006, Childs retired from IBM and founded the consulting firm, Ted Childs, LLC, where he serves as a strategic diversity advisor.

Childs is a member of the board of trustees, and past chair of the West Virginia State University Foundation. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC); The Families and Work Institute board of directors; was installed as a Fellow of The National Academy of Human Resources in 2001; and has served as co-chair of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Work Family Advisory Board. Childs holds life memberships in the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, The National Council of Negro Women, Inc., The National Organization of Women (NOW), Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the NAACP, the Sierra Club, and the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society.

In 1997, Childs was named by Working Mother magazine as one of the 25 Men Friends of the Family who have made it easier for working parents to raise and nurture children. In 1998, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies presented Joan Lombardi, U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, and Childs with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Childs also received the Corporate Leadership Award from the Human Rights Campaign in 2003, the Work/Life Legacy Award from the Families and Work Institute in 2004, and the Trailblazers in Diversity Award from the Chief Diversity Officer’s Forum in 2006. In addition, Working Mother Media announced The Ted Childs Life / Work Excellence Award to be given annually to the individual who by their distinctive performance has contributed to the field of Life / Work in the business community. Childs has received Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees from Pace University, West Virginia State University and Our Lady of the Elms College.

Ted Childs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 20, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.115

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/20/2014

Last Name

Childs

Maker Category
Middle Name

Theodore

Schools

Eastern Avenue Elementary Public School

Buckingham Junior High School

Springfield Central High School

Lincoln University

West Virginia State University

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Springfield

HM ID

CHI03

State

Massachusetts

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/26/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

South Salem

Country

United States

Short Description

Diversity strategist Ted Childs, Jr. (1944 - ) was founder of Ted Childs, LLC. He retired as IBM’s vice president of global workforce diversity in 2006 after thirty-nine years of employment at the company.

Employment

IBM

NAACP

Gerald Adolph

Management consultant Gerald S. Adolph was born on December 30, 1953 in New York City, New York. His father, Leroy Adolph, was a New York City department of sanitation worker; his mother, Beryl Adolph, a nurse. Raised in New York, Adolph attended Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, where he graduated from in 1971. He then received his B.S. degrees in management science and chemical engineering in 1976 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Adolph went on to receive his M.S. degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1980, and his M.B.A degree from the Harvard Business School in 1981.

Adolph was hired as a research engineer at the Polaroid Corporation in 1976, where he worked in the company’s development labs and chemical manufacturing division. In 1981, Adolph was hired at Booz Allen Hamilton, now Booz & Company, as an associate of technology management services. After being promoted to a senior associate in 1983, and as principal of technology management services in 1985, he was made partner of the chemicals practice at Booz & Company in 1989. While employed as partner of the chemicals practice, Adolph also served as the practice leader of global chemicals. Then, in 1999, Adolph was promoted to a senior partner of consumer, health and M&A, as well as practice leader of global consumer and health at Booz & Company. In 2001, while still serving as senior partner, he led the global mergers and restructuring group. In 2010, Adolph was promoted to a managing senior partner for the New York region at Booz & Company.

Adolph has served on numerous corporate and educational boards throughout his career, including the Corporate Advisory Board at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Helen Keller International, and Co-Chair of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Adolph also served on Booz & Company’s board of directors, and as board chair of the Executive Leadership Council in 2004. He was elected to the board of Cintas in 2006 and the board of his alma mater Cardinal Spellman High School in 2010. In 2009, Adolph co-authored the book Merge Ahead: Mastering the Five Enduring Trends of Artful M&A. He was awarded the Pierre Toussaint Medallion from the Archdiocese of New York in 2009. Booz & Company has also honored Adolph with their Professional Excellence Award.

Gerald S. Adolph was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 20, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.258

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/20/2013

Last Name

Adolph

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Stephen

Schools

St. Charles Borromeo School

Msgr. William R. Kelly School

Cardinal Spellman High School

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Harvard Business School

First Name

Gerald

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

ADO01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

For those whom much has been given, much is expected.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/30/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Management consultant Gerald Adolph (1953 - ) has worked at Booz & Company for over thirty years. He is the co-author of Merge Ahead: Mastering the Five Enduring Trends of Artful M&A.

Employment

Polaroid Corporation

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc

Favorite Color

Blue

Sheila Talton

Technology executive and entrepreneur Sheila G. Talton was born on October 12, 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio. As a teenager, she became involved in the civil rights movement in Rockford, Illinois. Talton went on to graduate from Northern Illinois University with her B.S. degree in business administration and speech communications in 1980

Upon graduation, Talton was hired as a sales trainee at NCR Corporation. She became head of Midwest sales for Data Group Systems in Chicago in 1982, moving on to a position as team leader in the sales department of Applied Data Research (ADR) in 1984. Taking advantage of a void left by the breakup of AT&T, Talton founded Unisource Network Services, a provider of voice, data and video networking consultation and support services, in 1987. In 1996, while still leading Unisource, she helped establish the Information Technology Senior Management Forum, a mentoring group that cultivates executive talent among African American IT professionals. Talton sold her stake in Unisource in 2000, and was hired as the vice president of Cap Gemini, Ernst & Young’s Midwest technology consulting practice. In 2002, she was named president of global business innovation services for Electronic Data Systems (EDS). Talton was hired by the computer networking company Cisco Systems Inc. in 2004 where she became vice president of advisory services in the Customer Advocacy Group. She was promoted to a role as vice president of Cisco’s Office of Globalization in 2008 and helped the company identify growth opportunities in emerging markets around the world. She left Cisco in 2012 to found the consulting firm SGT, Ltd. In 2013, Talton established Gray Matter Analytics, Inc., a business providing consulting services and cloud hosting service for analytics.

Talton has served as a member of the board of directors of the ACCO Brands Corporation, the Wintrust Financial Corporation, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Lighthouse for the Blind, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her honors include selection as a Congressional appointee on the US White House Women’s Business Council, as one of the “Top 10 Women in Technology” by Enterprising Women, and as “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the National Federation of Black Women Business Owners. She is also a recipient of the “Entrepreneurial Excellence Award” from Working Woman magazine and a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award. She was named a 2007 “Woman Worth Watching” by Profiles in Diversity Journal, received a 2008 Egretha Award from the African American Women’s Business and Career Conference, and was named a 2009 Business Leader of Color by Chicago United. In 2010 she was honored as a Woman of Achievement by the Anti-Defamation League, and as the Outstanding College Alumni of the Year by the Business School of Northern Illinois University. In 2011 she was named one of “25 Influential Black Women in Business” by The Network Journal and received the “Diamond Leadership Award” from the Information Technology Senior Management Forum.

Sheila G. Talton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 23, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.216

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/23/2013

Last Name

Talton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Gayle

Schools

Harvard Business School

Northern Illinois University

West High School

Rock Valley College

Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School

Franklin School

First Name

Sheila

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

TAL01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Vail, Colorado

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/12/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Technology executive Sheila Talton (1952 - ) had extensive global operations experience as a business leader and entrepreneur in the information technology industry. She founded Gray Matter Analytics in 2013.

Employment

Gray Matter Analytics, Inc.

Sterling Partners

Sgt, LTD. (Sheila Talton, LTD.)

CISCO Systems

EDS

CAP Gemini Ernst & Young

Unisource Network Services

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sheila Talton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sheila Talton lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sheila Talton describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sheila Talton describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sheila Talton describes her mother's personality and education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sheila Talton talks about her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sheila Talton lists her father's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sheila Talton remembers her parents' divorce

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sheila Talton describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sheila Talton recalls living in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sheila Talton remembers Perry Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Sheila Talton describes her home life in Louisville, Kentucky, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Sheila Talton describes her home life in Louisville, Kentucky, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Sheila Talton remembers the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sheila Talton describes her family life in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sheila Talton describes the Hough neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sheila Talton recalls visits from her father after her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sheila Talton remembers moving to Rockford, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sheila Talton remembers the Franklin School in Rockford, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sheila Talton remembers her parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sheila Talton talks about the African American community in Rockford, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sheila Talton remembers reconnecting with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sheila Talton recalls her involvement in the Black Power movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sheila Talton remembers her teenage years

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sheila Talton describes her experiences at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sheila Talton talks about the Black Panther Party in Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sheila Talton recalls her decision to attend Northern Illinois University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sheila Talton remembers leaving Northern Illinois University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sheila Talton remembers entering the secretarial workforce

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sheila Talton recalls her return to Northern Illinois University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sheila Talton remembers studying business administration at Northern Illinois University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sheila Talton describes her motivation for completing her college education

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sheila Talton remembers joining the NCR Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sheila Talton recalls her decision to leave the NCR Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sheila Talton talks about her technological aptitude and training

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sheila Talton describes her salesmanship skills

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sheila Talton remembers her role at Data Group Systems

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sheila Talton remembers working for Applied Data Research

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sheila Talton remembers her prejudiced manager at Applied Data Research

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sheila Talton remembers founding Unisource Network Services

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sheila Talton describes what she learned at Applied Data Research

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sheila Talton remembers her divorce

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sheila Talton talks about her daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sheila Talton remembers running Unisource Network Services

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sheila Talton remembers leaving Unisource Network Services

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sheila Talton describes her role at Ernst and Young

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sheila Talton remembers working at Ernst and Young

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sheila Talton describes her civic involvement in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sheila Talton recalls her transition from Capgemini SE to Electronic Data Systems

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sheila Talton talks about the importance of community service

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sheila Talton talks about her role as a mentor

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sheila Talton remembers her second marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sheila Talton remembers being hired at Cisco Systems, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sheila Talton recalls working for Cisco Systems, Inc. in China

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sheila Talton talks about challenges for African Americans in Silicon Valley

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sheila Talton remembers working for Cisco Systems, Inc. in Mexico

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sheila Talton remembers working for Cisco Systems, Inc. in Brazil and Chile

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sheila Talton talks about her interest in big data

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Sheila Talton remembers founding Gray Matter Analytics

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sheila Talton describes the workplace culture at Sterling Partners

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sheila Talton describes her business plan for Gray Matter Analytics

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sheila Talton describes her hopes for Gray Matter Analytics

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sheila Talton reflects upon her values

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sheila Talton shares her advice to young people

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sheila Talton reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sheila Talton reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Sheila Talton talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Sheila Talton reflects upon her parents' lessons

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Sheila Talton narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$3

DAStory

9$7

DATitle
Sheila Talton remembers founding Gray Matter Analytics
Sheila Talton recalls her return to Northern Illinois University
Transcript
And when I went back out there I started looking around, who was investing in all the big data and then where the money was going, and it was pretty much going all in software; and I thought to myself, hm, that's probably not a good thing 'cause I think that there's an opportunity for the services piece, which is really more important because it's having the people that can read what the data's telling them. I ended up landing at a private equity firm here [Sterling Partners] that had not done a lot in technology but they said that they wanted to, and quite frankly, I believe because of the discrimination in those firms, I didn't have a lot of options. I mean, I wasn't getting firms, "Oh, yeah, Sheila [HistoryMaker Sheila Talton], come on in, come on in," but there was an African American principal at this firm and he wanted me to come into this firm. So I did. I joined the firm as, what they call an executive in residence, which means that, you're not making much money but you're looking to invest where you might end up running the new entity that they invested in. So, I wrote an investment thesis, spent about eight months doing that and I was becoming very, very bored and then I probably brought them about four different deals. They didn't like any of them.$$Right.$$And I went back out to California this past March and met with some old Cisco [Cisco Systems, Inc.] colleagues, met with some venture funds and told them all about this investment thesis I wrote and how I know that this is the sweet spot in big data, where there's a void. Consistently, I got asked, "So why aren't you launching the company?" I said, I don't know. Came back to Chicago [Illinois], thought about that, went skiing out in Vail [Colorado] with a couple of friends, talked to them about my investment thesis and they said, "So why aren't you launching it?" And I said, you know, I think I will. So, I came back to Chicago and started Gray Matter Analytics and we're nine people now, office in Silicon Valley, office in Chicago, thinking about whether we need one on the East Coast because right now our biggest customer is out there on the East Coast.$$Okay.$$I sit on a couple of public company boards and still on the Northwestern Memorial Hospital [Chicago, Illinois] board, Chicago Urban League board and the Shakespeare Theatre [Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, Illinois] board, so I've got a full life.$Then in, let's see, 1975, 1975, I met my husband--maybe '74 [1974]. And we were married and he was a machinist at a factory in Belvidere, Illinois and I was still working at the printing place, and then I became pregnant and I had my daughter. And when I had my daughter, life changed for me. I did not go back to work at the printing place, I went to work at a place called Allis-Chalmers [Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company], they manufactured forklifts and I was a clerk there. And my daughter was young, a baby, and there was a salesman there, first name Greg [ph.], I cannot think of his last name, white guy, and I had been working there for about, say maybe a year or so, and he says to me one day, he says, "Why are you working here?" And me being as militant as I am, I'm thinking, and why are you asking me that? And he said, "You're capable of so much more, why is it that you're a clerk here at this showroom?" And I said, "Well, I have to work, my husband works, we have a daughter." And he says, "Well, why didn't you go to college?" I said, "Oh, I did." I said, "That didn't work so well." He says, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Oh, I partied a lot, I was on academic probation." He says, "Why don't you go back?" I said, "Well they're not going to take me back." He says, "They would take you back." And I said, "What do you mean they would take me back?" He says, "Well, if you would go to a junior college and you take calculus and quantitative analysis, some really tough classes and ace those, they'd take you back at Northern [Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois]." And I said, (makes sound), I said, "Well, you know, I've never been really good at math." He says, "Well, I'll tutor you." So I took his advice. I went and enrolled in classes at Rock Valley junior college [Rock Valley College, Rockford, Illinois] and he kept his word. I would go to his house, his wife and he, and he would tutor me. I ended up taking about, I don't know, twelve hours there and then I reapplied back at Northern. I had a young child at this time. They accepted me back. I quit that job. I got a loan and a scholarship, a grant from Sundstrand [Sundstrand Corporation; UTC Aerospace Systems], it was one of them where I had worked as a secretary, and I was on the dean's list every semester.$$Can we hold that for a minute 'cause you're, you're going to where I'm going to be in a few minutes, but let's back up just a hair. You ended up getting married in 1970--$$I think we got married, my daughter was born in '77 [1977], so we must have got married maybe in '74 [1974], '75 [1975].$$Okay, and your husband's name?$$Henry [Henry Talton].$$Henry, thank you, and your daughter's name?$$Shannel [Shannel Talton].$$Shannel, thank you. These are important details, I want to make sure I get them.$$Ex-husband.$$Ex-husband, okay, no, I can deal with then-husband, later on, ex-husband. And this salesman, I'm sorry, what was his name?$$Greg was his first name. I wish I, I actually wish I could find him, but Greg was his first name.$$All right, and he just, so he took you under, under his wing (unclear)?$$Right.$$He's white?$$Um-hm.

Chris Simmons

Corporate executive Christopher Simmons was born on August 15, 1957 and raised in Shelby, Tennessee. His mother Dorothy Anderson was a homemaker and his father Joseph Simmons was a school principal and a minister. He is the third of six children. Simmons attended Hamilton High School where he graduated at the top of his class. He obtained his B.A. degree in economics from Harvard University in 1979. Upon graduation, Simmons began his career at IBM; he then left IBM to take a position at Wang Laboratories where he worked as a senior marketing analyst. In 1986, he earned his M.B.A degree from Harvard School of Business. That same year, he then joined the Bankers Trust Company as an associate. While there, he was responsible for analysis and structuring of large leveraged buyout finances and other transactions.

In 1992, Simmons joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as senior manager, managing mergers and acquisitions with transaction services. In 1998, he managed PwC’s internal merger and acquisitions group. In 2001, Simmons was promoted to managing partner of PwC’s Washington, D.C. Metro area office. In 2004, he was asked by the chairman to serve as Chief Diversity Officer. He also served as chair of the Partner Admission Committee, and as a member of the Human Capital Leadership Team and the Management Evaluation and Compensation Committee. In 2009, he was elected to the firm’s United States Board of Partners & Principals.

Simmons served as PwC’s charitable foundation board president, where he was responsible for PwC’s $750,000 commitment to Feeding America. In 2011, Simmons was honored with the Corporate Community Investment Award, for his involvement in youth mentoring and assisting those in need. His involvement has included the Economic Club of Washington as Chair of the Membership Committee, and the Executive Leadership Council as a board member. He has served as secretary and executive board member of the Association of Latino professionals in Finance and Accounting and is a part of the Federal City Council.

Christopher Simmons was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 7, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.123

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/7/2012

Last Name

Simmons

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Harvard University

Harvard Business School

Corry Middle School

Hamilton High School

Hillcrest High School

First Name

Chris

Birth City, State, Country

Shelby County

HM ID

SIM10

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Vietnam

Favorite Quote

Most People Are Other People. Their Thoughts Are Someone Else's Opinions, Their Lives A Mimicry, Their Passions A Quotation.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/15/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Corporate executive Chris Simmons (1957 - ) was a pioneer of diversity recruitment and development in corporate environments.

Employment

IBM

Wang Laboratories

Bankers Trust Company

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:375,3:5625,105:6150,113:9000,156:10050,172:10350,177:10875,191:11550,202:23000,339:23372,344:26441,406:29345,422:30840,460:31620,473:32205,484:34285,519:34870,531:35195,537:37880,553:38520,563:39080,572:40040,586:47422,671:54864,779:55244,785:58816,869:61020,908:61324,913:62084,937:62616,947:74032,997:74760,1005:75592,1014:76320,1023:77984,1053:81852,1108:82518,1119:86440,1206:86736,1211:87106,1217:87476,1223:87772,1228:91980,1279$0,0:1377,21:2430,44:12798,192:13284,200:14418,222:21878,285:25662,337:26264,361:47706,649:85010,965:89630,1074:91370,1114:92510,1147:93110,1158:97614,1203:99234,1252:99774,1263:100940,1327
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Chris Simmons' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons recalls life lessons from his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons remembers his father lessons about kindness

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons recalls his father's promotion to principal of Capeville High School in Shelby County, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Chris Simmons describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Chris Simmons talks about his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Chris Simmons describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Chris Simmons talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Chris Simmons recalls his parents' early relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Chris Simmons lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons talks about the Prospect Park neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons recalls his early childhood influences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons talks about his mother's involvement in the Parent Teachers Association

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Chris Simmons remembers childhood chores

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Chris Simmons describes the discipline of his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Chris Simmons talks about celebrating Christmas as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Chris Simmons recalls his early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Chris Simmons remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Chris Simmons describes his maternal uncle's civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Chris Simmons describes his family's discussions about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons talks about his reading skills as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons recalls his experiences with bullies

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons remembers excelling as a math student

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons recalls transferring to Hillcrest High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons talks about facing discrimination at Hillcrest High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Chris Simmons recalls his experiences at Hillcrest High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Chris Simmons remembers returning to Hamilton High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Chris Simmons describes the influence of Hillcrest High School

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Chris Simmons talks about the effects of school busing in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Chris Simmons recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons talks about racism in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons describes his early college aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons remembers his college application process

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons describes his first impression of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons talks about his admission interview for Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Chris Simmons remembers his roommates at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Chris Simmons describes his experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Chris Simmons recalls his election to co-president of Currier House at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Chris Simmons talks about his summer jobs as a student at Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Chris Simmons describes his social circle at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons talks about the decision to apply to Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons recalls his admission to Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons remembers attaining a position at International Business Machines Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons describes his training at International Business Machines Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons talks about his experiences at Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Chris Simmons recalls taking a deferment from Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Chris Simmons remembers his job prospects after graduating from Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Chris Simmons describes his mentors at Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Chris Simmons talks about securing his position with Bank Trust in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Chris Simmons recalls his family's reactions to career path

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Chris Simmons remembers his early experiences at Bankers Trust

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Chris Simmons describes his working relationship with James D. Zielinski

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons talks about the fall of the junk bond market

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons recalls working with Interface Flooring Systems, Inc. as a client

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons remembers the closing of the Bankers Trust office in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons describes his challenges at Bank Trust

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons talks about his role at Price Waterhouse in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Chris Simmons recalls Raymond J. McGuire's mentorship

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Chris Simmons remembers J. Larry Stevens

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Chris Simmons describes Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Chris Simmons describes the corporate finance consulting group at Price Waterhouse

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons talks about the mentorship of Willard W. "Woody" Brittain, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons recalls a challenging project at Price Waterhouse

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons remembers Williard W. "Woody" Brittain, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons describes his promotion to chief diversity officer

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons talks about his role as chief diversity officer

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Chris Simmons recalls his team as chief diversity officer

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Chris Simmons remembers the history of diversity practices at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Chris Simmons recalls campaigning for board membership at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Chris Simmons talks about his role on the PricewaterhouseCoopers corporate board

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Chris Simmons reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Chris Simmons shares his future plans

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Chris Simmons talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Chris Simmons reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Chris Simmons describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Chris Simmons reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$1

DAStory

10$1

DATitle
Chris Simmons talks about his role on the PricewaterhouseCoopers corporate board
Slating of Chris Simmons' interview
Transcript
So what is your role there on the board? What does the board do, and what are the issues?$$Well, I'm on several committees; I chair the partner admissions committee, so I make sure that the process by which we admit partners is fair and--both internally and externally. When we admit partners directly and from other firms it's actually even smaller group of us--five--who vote on those, so I chair that committee. I'm also on the Management Evaluation and Compensation Committee, which is composed of the chairs of each of the other committees, and we're the ones who determine the CEO's pay, and we evaluate the CEO and his top leadership's performance, and then we handle, you know, very sensitive issues. And then finally, as a general board member we, you know, vote on major transactions the company [PricewaterhouseCoopers] might entertain doing--changes in direction, regulatory strategy--things like that, depending on, you know, the severity and importance of them.$$Okay.$$And I do regular sessions with the partners, so I'll fly down to Miami [Florida], go to Charlotte [North Carolina], and explain to groups of partners sort of what's going on in the firm, and hear their input, and then bake their input into what we discuss at the board level with leadership.$My name is Julieanna Richardson and I'm the interviewer, and Matthew Hickey is the videographer, and observing today are Marta Grabowski, G-A-R- G-R-A-B-O-W-S-K-I and Shelby Clemons. And I'd like to have you start off by stating your name and spelling it for us--your full name.$$And spelling it?$$Yes.$$I'm Joseph Christopher Simmons, known as [HistoryMaker] Chris Simmons; it's J-O-S-E-P-H, C-H-R-I-S-T-O-P-H-E-R, S-I-M-M-O-N-S.$$And can we have today's date?$$Today's date is May 7, 2012.$$Your date of birth?$$August 15, 1957.$$And our location?$$We're in Chicago [Illinois].$$At The HistoryMakers.$$At The HistoryMakers.$$And I'd like to have your occupation.$$My occupation is professional services accounting firm business executive.$$But if you--if you had one word to describe what you do, what would you describe yourself as?$$I lead (laughter). You want a normal word?$$Yes (laughter), okay.$$You want a title or you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) A title (unclear).$$You want a title. Okay. Well, I'm the managing partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Washington [D.C.] metro region, and I'm also the chairman of the partner admissions committee at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and I'm also the president of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Charitable Foundation [PricewaterhouseCoopers Charitable Foundation, Inc.].

Elynor Williams

Corporate executive Elynor A. Williams was born on October 27, 1946 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Albert and Naomi Williams. She graduated from Central Academy in Palatka, Florida before receiving her B.A. degree in home economics from Spelman College in 1966. Williams then joined Eugene Butler High School in Jacksonville, Florida as a home economics teacher. In 1968, she became an editor and publicist for General Foods Corporation in White Plains, New York. Williams received her M.A. degree in communication arts from Cornell University in 1973. At Cornell, she worked as a tutor for special education projects.

Following the completion of her education, Williams became a communication specialist for North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service. In 1977, she became a senior public relations specialist for Western Electric Company in Greensboro, North Carolina. Williams served as director of corporate affairs for Sara Lee Corporation’s Hanes Group in Winston-Salem, North Carolina from 1983 to 1986 and director of public affairs for the Sara Lee Corporation in Chicago, Illinois from 1985 to 1990. Then, she was promoted to vice president of public responsibility for the Sara Lee Corporation, becoming the company’s first African American corporate officer. During William’s time at Sara Lee, she directed the Sara Lee Foundation, served as executive secretary of the Employee and Public Responsibility Committee for the board of directors and founded the Frontrunner Awards to honor the achievements of outstanding women. After leaving the Sara Lee Corporation, Williams served as president and managing director of Chestnut Pearson and Associates, an international management consulting firm.

Throughout her long career, Williams has demonstrated a continued commitment to her community, becoming involved with numerous local and national organizations. She is a founding board member of the Executive Leadership Council and Spelman College Corporate Women’s Roundtable. Williams has served on the board of directors of the American Cancer Society Foundation, Children’s Memorial Hospital and the Chicago Sinfonietta. She is also deeply dedicated to the advancement of women, especially minority women and has worked with the National Women’s Economic Alliance, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., the International Women’s Forum and the President’s Council of Cornell University Women. Williams has been recognized many times by national media including being named one of the 50 Top Black Executives in Corporate America by Ebony ; Magazine and one Chicago’s most powerful women by WBBM-TV. She has received the Drum Major for Justice Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was named a National Headliner by Women in Communications. Williams lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Elynor A. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 19, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.048

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/19/2012

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

Central Academy

Spelman College

Cornell University

W.H. Council Elementary School

First Name

Elynor

Birth City, State, Country

Baton Rouge

HM ID

WIL57

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

This Too Shall Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/27/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Crab, Shrimp, Lobster

Short Description

Corporate executive Elynor Williams (1946 - ) became Sara Lee Corporation’s first African American corporate officer serving as vice president for public responsibility.

Employment

Eugene Butler High School

General Foods Corporation

Western Electric (AT&T)

North Carolina Agricultural Extension

Hanes Group

Sara Lee Corporation

Chestnut Pearson & Associates

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:657,21:1095,27:3650,67:11828,217:19145,396:38380,720:42300,801:52368,973:53241,1010:60350,1092:69198,1259:72832,1530:84520,1623:101498,1784:108390,1977:126128,2261:132122,2441:132527,2447:133013,2461:136415,2523:141500,2532:147548,2634:163030,2833:187835,3215:191500,3241:195224,3322:214410,3629:221010,3669:229224,3757:230093,3905:237221,4062:245927,4178:247428,4373:257568,4595:283987,4800:293020,4923$0,0:438,4:2263,45:14030,144:23173,254:31099,333:40875,504:60612,924:64500,1025:69756,1274:85320,1429:94459,1476:94824,1482:102781,1649:107870,1720:119584,1911:120130,1919:138556,2155:138991,2161:162480,2461:164480,2530:166400,2641:167520,2660:174950,2768:176470,2788:177430,2813:182070,2911:194190,3014:194793,3026:195396,3037:198813,3110:200153,3140:202431,3196:203034,3217:217872,3396:220302,3448:222370,3465:222811,3476:227385,3539:231627,3584:231982,3591:232337,3597:260232,3965:278200,4146:287869,4294:297520,4465:302944,4545:324402,4898:336512,5127:343669,5232:344154,5240:349959,5381:353116,5449:360080,5546
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Elynor Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams talks about her parents' educational backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams describes her parent's personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Elynor Williams describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams remembers her early neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams recalls her favorite subject at W.H. Council Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams remembers moving to St. Augustine, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams talks about the race relations in St. Augustine, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams talks about being bullying as a young child

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Elynor Williams remembers attending Central Academy in Palatka, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams remembers enrolling at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams recalls attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams remembers her influential professors at Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams recalls her plans after graduation from Spellman College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams remembers teaching at Eugene J. Butler Junior Senior High School in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams recalls being hired at General Foods Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams remembers the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Elynor Williams talks about being featured in Ebony magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams talks about the benefits of affirmative action

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams recalls receiving a scholarship to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams remembers encountering a racist professor at Cornell University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams talks about her master's thesis

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her experiences at Cornell University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams talks about working at North Carolina Agricultural Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams remembers being hired by Western Electric Company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams remembers running for the North Carolina House of Representatives

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams talks about the corporate politics at the Western Electric Company

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams recalls being hired at Hanes Group

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams talks about advocating for women's groups at Hanes Group

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her experiences at Hanes Group

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams talks about diversity at Sara Lee Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams recalls accepting a position at Sara Lee Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams talks about her experiences with sexual harassment at Hanes Group

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams remembers co-founding the Executive Leadership Council

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her women's initiatives at Hanes Group

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams remembers the Frontrunner Awards at Hanes Group

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams talks about retiring from Sara Lee Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams recalls her decision to retire

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams reflects on her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams talks about her acquaintances with black female business executives

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams reflects on her life

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her family, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams talks about her family, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams narrates her photographs

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DATitle
Elynor Williams talks about working at North Carolina Agricultural Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina
Elynor Williams talks about her women's initiatives at Hanes Group
Transcript
Okay, so you went to North Carolina after you graduated, right, is that true?$$Oh yes. I told General Foods [General Foods Corporation] I was coming back. And then, I got this call from this guy from General Foods, from North Carolina Agriculture Extension Service [North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service], and he said, "I want you to come down here for an interview." He was a graduate from Cornell [Cornell University, Ithaca, New York]. He got his Ph.D. there. And I said okay, because I had never been to Greensboro [North Carolina] before, so I went down there and came back, because I was going to go work for J. Walter Thompson and, who was the other one, Ebony. J. Walter Thompson wouldn't spend the money to take me down, bring me down to New York if I didn't have any way to get there, so I'd even go for the interview for that. Another one I went to, ad agency and they wanted me to write a couple of stories, which I refused to do, and Ebony, they just didn't like me because I didn't have experience, and so that left General Foods, which I didn't really want to go back to, and so when I went to the interview at North Carolina Agriculture Extension Service, when I landed the airport was in the middle of this field and there were cows over there. I thought, oh god, I can't come and live here. So, I went back to Ithaca [New York] and didn't think anything of it, and then this guy called me. I can't remember his name, but he was cool. He called me and he said, "Are you going to take this job or what?" I said, "Excuse me?" He said, "Are you coming down here to work for us or what?" I said, "Oh." He sounded like my dad [Albert Williams], so I said, "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming." (Laughter) He gave me the riot act, so I ended up working there. I started the department of communication arts at the agri school at A and T [North Carolina Agricultural Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina].$$So, was that the, don't mumble that through because this is important.$$Oh, I'm sorry. You know, we were having a conversation. I forgot he was taping. I am so sorry.$$Yeah, now don't mumble that through. This is something, you started the department.$$Yeah, but it was just for the ag school.$$And the idea was that he was coming and you were brought there to start this department thing, is that true?$$It was just me and a secretary. I mean, we did the publicity for Ag Extension and the black school [HBCU] which is the 1890 university schools, you know. They had the separate pieces and, so I didn't really start, I started department--we're talking about two people--I was the first one that they hired to do the job, and I started and I started doing publicity for them and there was a photographer who I hired a lot, and he was cool, and he said to me, "You should join the chamber of commerce [Greensboro Chamber of Commerce]." I said, "Okay." So I did. I got in the eight o'clock club and got really active with them and I had a mentee. This is interesting. I was dating this guy because, see, I went to North Carolina on a mission. I was going to save people's lives. I was going to teach them how to cook and how to clean, how to sew and how to make their lives better. That was my mission, and I was going to have a boyfriend just to be on the side, just so I could, whatever. Anyway, he had a roommate that he said was a Vietnam [Vietnam War] vet. This guy was a runaround. I mean, I knew that. I didn't give a, I didn't care. I mean, he was a womanizer. I didn't care. The guy, his roommate, had me go with him for lunch and he said, "Did you know that this--," and I said, "Yeah, I know that. I don't care." He said, "But you're so much better than that." I said, "I know that." I said, "He's not important to me." We got to be best of friends. We're still friends. He was right, he was not a Vietnam vet. He was a student at UNCG, University of North Carolina at Greensboro [Greensboro, North Carolina]. The guy didn't want me to know he was rooming with a guy that was that young and, anyway, I got him to take a job. I said you're too smart to stay here. We got to be friends, too, because he, anytime I sent him an article or something, I used to call him up, I said, "Maurice, you know you ought to print this for me." I said, "We got a lot of stuff in the paper because of that." And, so I got him out of there and I got him to move to New York, and he just is retiring now as vice president of PepsiCo. One of my success stories. I had a lot of those.$$This is Maurice-$$Maurice Cox.$$Okay.$$From PepsiCo. Yeah. And he, to this day, he said, "If it hadn't been for you." 'Cause I used to rag at him all the time. I said, "What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do with your life? You gonna work at this paper forever?" Anyway, that was my first real mentee. I had some other people, but I was, I stuck with him.$Was there any incident that precipitated the crisis, that made you want to leave?$$I'm sure there was, but I can't remember exactly what it was because I just really had had it, because I wasn't being respected by the people, my boss at the time. I was getting slammed down for my ideas, and this was after. I came to, and I'm all around the map but let me go back one moment. When I came here I had done a program at the Hanes Group [Hanesbrands Inc.] called the Women of Hanes [ph.] and it ended up being a brochure and they wanted me in it and I said, "No, this is for them." And Paul [Paul Fulton] said, "No, you should be in it." So I said, "I'll take a picture on the cover." So, I took a picture on the cover and it had little vignettes of the women in Hanes of different levels, so when I got here, I said, "Well that's something else to start with." Because first of all they wanted me to be director of urban affairs and I said, "Unh-uh. This isn't what I do." You know. "I'm not here to be an urban affairs person. I'm here to be director of public affairs." So, I told him what title I would take and they wanted to make me senior manager because the director in the regional office was equivalent to senior manager in corporate, and I said, "No, I'm a director. That's what I've been. That's what I've known, that's what I've known in this company." So, I fought them on that and I won. So, I got to be director of public affairs and I'm making this sound easy. It wasn't. It was like painful and it was hard. I was selling pencils on the street in a cup (laughter). I was going through the whole nine yards, but I had people at my back, Bob Brown [Robert J. Brown], Paul Fulton, who never spoke to me once we moved up here, because he knew he had to put some distance between us and he was the president and I was where I was, but I helped to save the company. So, I brought the idea of women being their sole customer to the corporate office, and then I decided I wasn't just going to do this booklet, I was going to do a program. This is one of my proudest achievements in my life. And, I taught the vice presidents of human resources, because I was reporting at that time to the vice chairman; no, the vice president of corporate affairs, that's who I was reporting to. He was reporting to the vice chairman, and I said, "I'm going to go and sell this idea." He didn't care what I did, because he didn't really want me up there in the first place, up here in the first place. So, I learned that at Western Electric [Western Electric Company], you get people to buy in. When I ran for office, you get people to buy in. That's the key thing for success. You get them to buy in, and once they bought in you got 'em. So, I made these presentations that I wanted to do this program, a booklet on the women in Sara Lee [Sara Lee Corporation], but I wanted them to nominate these women, and then I wanted them from the plant level all the way up to the vice presidents of each company, to select the woman that's going to represent them, and then those names would come to corporate and I had a team of people that would review them and pick the ones the ten that we would, would choose. And I had the categories of management, secretarial, we had, in the end, Bill Clinton [William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton] sent a letter when he was governor of Arkansas to this woman who had won it from Arkansas. It was an amazing program, because it still brings tears to my eyes at every level. We gave women an opportunity to be recognized and we ended up with a truck driver, she was one of the winners, an executive secretary from one of the divisions, one of the women, one woman who had done, gotten another degree through the corporate education program and she was now manager and she had started out as a secretary. Of course, we had to have some diversity in there. I mean, I told my committee what I wanted from them. We had women in so many small cities getting keys to the city. There was one women who wrote me a letter. You have changed my life. She didn't think anybody noticed. The truck driver, she's like eighteen pounds soaking wet--118 pounds soaking wet, a little bitty thing, driving an 18-wheeler. She had no dresses. The company, her friends got money together to buy her some clothes to come to Chicago [Illinois]. The division president heard about that. They bought her luggage. They bought, it was just amazing. Even women who didn't win. So, I said okay. This is good. So, what I want to do is, we aren't gonna just do this booklet. We're gonna have them present it at the annual meeting, and then I got a video tape done of all their stories. Then we did the booklet, and then we, we had them meet the board of directors. Every time I kept pushing, pushing, pushing because we only, there was a pot of money in the annual meeting budget for public responsibility, but they were always sharing something that they were doing at the foundation. I said, "No, this is more important. Give me that money." So, they gave it to me and we took them out to dinner, we got them in box seats. Some of them hadn't even travelled out of their city. I mean, it was just, I just loved it for what it did for the people's self-esteem, even, you know, even if they didn't get to come to Chicago. I was very proud of that program, and I did it with no money at all. I had just enough money to do a brochure and I kept finding little pockets of money that I could squirrel together.