The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon
BusinessMakers have been recognized for their accomplishments in leading, managing, and developing the business operations of corporations and financial organizations. Small business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate officers and executives, and business, management, and financial consultants are also included in this category as are those serving on corporate boards.

John W. Thompson

Chief executive officer John W. Thompson was born on April 24, 1949 to Eunice Walden and John H. Thompson in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was raised in West Palm Beach, Florida where he graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1967. He briefly attended Lincoln University on a music scholarship before transferring to Florida A&M University where he earned his B.A. degree in business administration in 1971. Thompson later attended the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his M.A. degree in management science in 1983.

After obtaining his B.A. degree from Florida A&M University, Thompson joined IBM Corporation as a salesman. He was later promoted to general manager for development and marketing of OS/2 computer software and other Intel-based server products. During his career at IBM, Thompson held the roles of branch manager, assistant to the regional manager, regional marketing director, assistant to the chief executive officer and chairman, director of IBM’s Midwest operations, and general manager of personal software products. He was also a member of the company’s worldwide management council. Thompson left IBM as general manager of IBM Americas in 1999. That same year, he was appointed chief executive officer and chairman of Symantec Corporation in California, making him the only African American at that time to lead a technology company. He retired from Symantec in April of 2009, but remained as chairman of the board until October of 2011. In 2010, Thompson became chief executive officer of Virtual Instruments. He remained here until April of 2016; and, the following year, he joined Riverwood Capital Management as an executive advisor. Thompson was with Riverwood until March of 2018. In May of 2018, he became a venture partner with Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Thompson has served on numerous boards, including those of Illumina, the Illinois Governor's Human Resource Advisory Council, Teach for America, Illumio, Liquid Robotics, Rubrik, and Seismic Software. In 2014, he became chairman of Microsoft, where he succeeded Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He was also appointed to the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee in 2002 and to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2009.

Thompson has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career, including the Pioneer Business Leader Award presented at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation's 2010 Pioneers & Purpose event, and the Technology and Business Award presented by Black Entertainment Television in 2015.

Thompson resides with his wife, Sandi, in California. He has two adult children, Chelsea and John E. Thompson.

John W. Thompson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 18, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.144

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/18/2019

Last Name

Thompson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Wendell

Schools

Suncoast Community High School

Lincoln University

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

The MIT Sloan School of Management

Lincoln Elementary School

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Fort Dix

HM ID

THO31

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Let's Do This Again

Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/24/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Woodside

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Anything I Cook

Short Description

Chief executive officer John W. Thompson (1949- ) worked for IBM for twenty-eight years before joining Symantec in 1999 as the only African American head of a technology company at the time, and was later appointed chairman of Microsoft in 2014.

Employment

International Business Machines (IBM)

Symantec

Virtual Instruments

Riverwood Capital Management

Lightspeed Venture Partners

Favorite Color

Red

Leonard Graham

Engineering executive Leonard J. Graham was born on December 12, 1949 in Kansas City, Kansas to Leonard A. and Alma James Graham. He attended Kansas City, Kansas public schools and graduated from Southeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1974, Graham earned his B.A. degree in liberal arts and sciences from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and his B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1975, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He went on to obtain his M.A. degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1978.

While in college, Graham worked as an application engineer at Fairbanks Morse Pumps, in Kansas City. Following his undergraduate studies, he went to work as an engineer for the regional office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1976, Graham joined the Kansas City-based consulting engineering firm Schlup Becker & Brennan as an engineer. Named partner in 1984, he worked there for sixteen years. In 1992, Graham joined and purchased the land surveying and civil and structural engineering services firm Taliaferro and Browne, Inc. as co-owner. He has served as president for twenty-seven years, where his role and area of expertise has been general civil engineering and project management including site development, storm water and wastewater engineering, roadway and transportation planning and design.
The firm has been recognized for “engineering excellence” to being “one of the top 25 largest engineering firms in Kansas City”.

From 2001 to 2002, Graham served as Honorary Chairman, Port Authority (now PortKC). In 2004, he received the Missouri Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Engineering, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City College of Engineering. Graham served as a member of the Mid-America Regional Council from 2012 to 2013, and board member for The Main Street Corridor Development Corporation from 2012 to 2018. He was the recipient of the Lucille H. Bluford Special Achievement Award from the Kansas City NAACP.

Graham has held memberships in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi, Midwesterners and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was recognized as a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni Members at the University of Missouri.

Leonard J. Graham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.124

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/8/2019

Last Name

Graham

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

James

Schools

Keiling Elementary School

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Northeast Junior High School

Southeast High School

University of Missouri, Kansas City

University of Missouri

First Name

Leonard

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

GRA20

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe and Africa

Favorite Quote

None

Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

12/12/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Tacos

Short Description

Engineering executive Leonard J. Graham (1949- ) served as co-owner and president of land surveying and civil and structural engineering services firm Taliaferro and Browne, Inc.

Employment

Fairbanks Morse Pumps

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Schlup Becker and Brennan

Taliaferro and Browne

Favorite Color

Green

Ronald A. Williams

Corporate chief executive Ronald Williams was born on November 11, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois to Dorothy Portwood and Henderson Williams. Williams received his B.A. degree in psychology from Roosevelt University in 1970, and his M.S. degree in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1984.

In 1978, Williams joined Control Data Corporation as group marketing executive, before serving as president and co-founder of Integrative Systems. From 1984 to 1987, Williams served as the co-founder and senior vice president at Vista Health Corporation. In 1987, Williams joined WellPoint Health Networks as group president of its Large Group and president of its Blue Cross of California subsidiary. He later joined Aetna Insurance Company in 2001 where he assumed the role of executive vice president and chief of health operations. Williams focused on creating innovation in the industry, especially through health information technology. In 2006, Williams became chairman and chief executive officer, making him the first African American CEO in the company’s 200 year history. In 2011, Williams retired as chairman of Aetna.

In 2007, Williams joined the board of the American Express Company; and, in 2010, he was elected to The Boeing Company board of directors. In 2011, he joined the board of directors of the Johnson & Johnson Company. From 2011 to 2017, Williams served on President Obama’s President's Management Advisory Board; and, in 2016, he served as chairman of the board of Agilon Health. He has also served on the board of Lucent Technologies, Inc. and Envision Healthcare. Williams was named a trustee of The Conference Board and the Connecticut Science Center Board, and was a member of The Business Council and Business Roundtable.

Williams has written on specific health care industry reforms, with pieces published in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Financial Times. Williams has been the recipient of numerous accolades including being named one of Black Enterprise magazine’s The 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America in 2010.

Williams and his wife, Cynthia Williams, reside in Delray Beach, Florida. They have one son, Christopher.

Ron A. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 14, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.036

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/14/2019

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Roosevelt University

First Name

Ronald

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WIL91

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Assume Positive Intent

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

11/11/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Corporate chief executive Ron Williams (1950- ) was the first African American chief executive officer of Aetna Insurance Company.

Employment

Aetna, Inc.

WellPoint Health Network, Inc.

WellPoint Health Network, Blue Cross of California

Blue Cross California

Vista Health Corporation

Control Data Corporation

RW2 Enerprises, LLC

Favorite Color

Blue

Gerald B. Smith

Investment banker Gerald B. Smith was born on September 28, 1950 in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas in 1968, and received his B.B.A. degree from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas in 1972.

After graduation, Smith became an assistant buyer for men’s sportswear at Foley’s department store. In 1974, Smith was hired at the investment banking firm of Hibbard, O’Conner & Weeks in Houston, Texas, where he completed the check training program and worked as a trader. In 1979, Smith moved to New York and joined Dillon, Read & Co. as the first African American hired by the firm, where he worked in the fixed income sector, trading and advising in portfolio management. In 1980, Smith became a founding member of the New York Futures Exchange (NYFE), which was established for the trading of futures contracts of financial products. Smith later worked for the Westcap Corporation, where he was responsible for national sales and trading with institutional investors. He also served as senior vice president and director of fixed income securities for Underwood Neuhaus & Co. In 1990, Smith co-founded Smith Graham & Co. Investment Advisors, L.P. in Houston, Texas, along with Ladell Graham.

Smith served as a trustee of various funds of The Charles Schwab Family of Funds and became director of Cooper Industries. He was also a director of Northern Border Partners, L.P. as well as the lead independent director and presiding non-management director of Cooper Industries PLC. From 2009 to 2013, Smith served as director of ONEOK, Inc.; and, from 2011 to 2016, Smith served on the board of The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Houston Branch. In 2012, he became director of New York Life Insurance Co. and independent director of Eaton Corporation PLC. He was also chairman of the Texas Southern University Foundation.

In 2007, Black Enterprise magazine named Smith one of the 50 Most Powerful African Americans on Wall Street. In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Texas Southern University. Smith and his wife, Anita were recognized as Excellence in Education Honorees at the Annual United Negro College Fund’s Gala in 2015, and are both founding donors of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. He was also inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and received the United Way Volunteer of the Year Award, the National Black MBA Association’s Leadership Empowerment Award, YMCA Annual Tribute to Leadership Award, and the Community Partner’s “Father of the Year” Award. In 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce and The National Economic Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Award from The 100 Black Men Association of America.

Gerald B. Smith was interviewed The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.034

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/26/2019

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Middle Name

B.

Occupation
Schools

Dodson Elementary

James D. Ryan Middle School

Jack Yates High School

Texas Southern University

First Name

Gerald

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

SMI37

Favorite Season

Spring and Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Favorite Quote

We've All Been Blessed To Be A Blessing

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

9/28/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Grilled Salmon with Vegetables

Short Description

Investment banker Gerald B. Smith (1950 - ) was a founding member of the New York Futures Exchange (NYFE) and co-founded Smith Graham & Co. Investment Advisors, L.P.

Employment

Foley's Department Store

Hibbard, O'Connor & Weeks

Dillon Read and Company

Westcap Corporation

Underwood Neuhaus and Company

Smith Graham & Co. Investment Advisors, L.P.

Favorite Color

Blue for clothes, Black for cars

Rodney Miller

Investment banker Rodney Miller was born on April 24, 1961 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Betty Jean Galbreath and Russell B. Miller, Sr. Miller received his B.S. degree in accounting from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 1983, and his M.B.A. degree from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, Illinois in 1986.

After graduation, Miller became a certified public accountant (C.P.A.) and worked for the accounting firm of Touche, Ross & Company. He later transitioned into investment banking and joined Credit Suisse First Boston, where he served as director of mergers and acquisitions for North America. There, Miller also led the takeover defense group, served as co-head of the Credit Suisse Global Energy Group and as chair of the managing director election committee. In 1995, Miller was part of the team that engineered Seagram Company Ltd.’s $5.7 billion acquisition of MCA Inc. That same year, Miller helped structure the $2.4 billion sale between KBLCOM, Inc. cable television systems to Time Warner, Inc. In 2007, Miller became managing director of mergers and acquisitions within Americas Investment Banking at JP Morgan Chase & Co., where he advised both domestic and international clients on a broad variety of assignments, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, proxy contests, hostile transactions and special committee assignments. In 2011, Miller played a role in the $25 billion split between Mosaic Company and Cargill. He also helped facilitate E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company’s $6.5 billion acquisition of Danisco A/S. Miller later became vice chairman of mergers and acquisitions at JP Morgan Chase & Co.

In 2001, Miller joined the board of trustees at The Studio Museum Harlem, where he served as treasurer. Miller also served as a trustee for the Council of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and on the dean’s advisory council for the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He served on the board of Prep for Prep, the Gordon A. Rich Foundation and the Credit Suisse Foundation. He serves on the Leadership Council of Advancing Black Leaders at JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Rodney Miller was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 27, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.022

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/27/2019

Last Name

Miller

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

M.

Occupation
Schools

Indiana University

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

First Name

Rodney

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

MIL13

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

The Hamptons

Favorite Quote

Started From The Bottom And Now We're Here

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/24/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Investment banker Rodney Miller (1961 - ) served as director of mergers and acquisitions for North America at Credit Suisse First Boston and vice chairman of mergers and acquisitions at JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Employment

Touche Ross & Company

CS First Boston

JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Favorite Color

Blue

Candace Bond McKeever

Marketing executive Candace Bond McKeever was born on June 27, 1965 in St. Louis, Missouri to Anita Lyons Bond and Dr. Leslie F. Bond, Sr. After graduating from Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School in Frontenac, Missouri in 1983, she received her B.A. degree in government from Harvard University in 1987, and her M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1992. In 2016, Bond McKeever also graduated from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business in the Ross Program in Real Estate and Real Estate Development.

In 1992, Bond McKeever became vice president of special markets and catalog development for Motown Records, where she was responsible for initiating formal catalog development efforts. Bond McKeever left Motown in 1997, and later served as vice president and general manager of entertainment for Essence magazine, where she oversaw the development of all branded business and marketing initiatives in the areas of film, television, DVD, music, radio and live entertainment. In this capacity, she also served as executive producer of the Essence Music Festival and the executive in charge of production of the Essence Awards. In 2003, Bond McKeever left Essence and became managing partner of Infusion Media Partners LLC. In 2010, she served as president of Initiative Consulting Group, Inc., which was acquired the following year by AESA Inc. and she was named chief executive officer. In 2011, she became chief executive officer of Strategic Solutions Group, Inc.

Bond McKeever served as co-chair of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Diversity Committee and as trustee for the Presidential Inaugural Committee for Obama for America. In 2010, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Bond McKeever is also a member of the board of trustees for The Ford Theater, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, and the Children’s Institute, Inc. She served on the board of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and as vice chair and secretary of the Martin Luther King Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation.

Candace Bond McKeever was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 6, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.010

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/6/2019

Last Name

McKeever

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Bond

Occupation
Schools

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School

Harvard University

Harvard Business School

University of Southern California Marshall School of Business

First Name

Candace

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

MCK17

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Favorite Quote

Pray as if everything in life depends on God, but work as if it depends on you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/27/1965

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

White Castle Cheeseburgers

Short Description

Marketing executive Candace Bond McKeever (1965 - ) served as named vice president and general manager of entertainment for Essence magazine and became chief executive officer of AESA Inc. and, in 2011, chief executive officer of Strategic Solutions Group, Inc.

Employment

Motown Record Corporation

Essence Magazine

Infusion Media Partners

Initiative Consulting Group, Inc.

AESA, Inc.

Strategic Solutions Group, Inc.

Favorite Color

Maroon

Gayle Holliday

Transportation executive, business consultant, and political activist Gayle Holliday was born on May 18, 1944 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Helen and George Smith. She graduated from Fredrick Douglass High School in 1962 before attending Howard University and ultimately graduating from Oklahoma City University with her B.A. degree in political science in 1968. Holliday later earned her M.P.A. degree from Central Michigan University in 1978 and her Ph.D. in management and applied technology from Webster University in 2004.

From 1969 to 1971, Holliday was the assistant dean of students at Federal City College in Washington D.C. She subsequently became a reporter and writer for Kansas City, Missouri’s CBS affiliate, KCMO-TV. In 1975, Holliday was hired by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority as the personnel and equal employment opportunity manager. She was later promoted to the director of human resources; and, in 1986, she became deputy general manager. She left the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority in 1996 upon founding and becoming president and CEO of G&H Consulting, LLC where she monitored minority and women business enterprise compliance on the renovations of Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, the Kansas City Zoo, and a new police crime laboratory. G&H Consulting has also been a major consultant on five disparity studies for women and minorities, including for the City of Kansas City, Missouri; the State of Missouri; the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority; Jackson County, Missouri; and Kansas City, Missouri Public Schools.

Holliday has served on numerous committees throughout her career, including appointments to Bill Clinton’s presidential transition team in 1992; Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Emanuel Cleaver II’s task force on race relations in 1996; the Sixth Circuit Judicial Commission of Kansas City, Missouri in 2006; co-chair of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James’ Charter Commission in 2016; co-chair of Jackson County, Missouri’s Jail Task Force from 2016 to 2018; and Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II’s Black/Brown Coalition in 2017. She was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Links, Inc., and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. In 2019, Holliday was named co-president of Freedom, Inc.

Holliday has received many awards, including being named one of the Top 50 Most Influential Black Women in Kansas City, Missouri in 1983; the Thomas G. Neusom Founder's Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Growth and Development of Minorities presented by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials in 1989; the 1992 Service Award from the National Conference of Black Mayors; the 2005 Congressional Black Caucus’s Unsung Hero Award; and the 2018 Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award. She was also recognized by the 109th Congress for Outstanding Service in the State of Missouri and working to promote economic and political empowerment for African Americans and other minorities.

Gayle Holliday resides in Kansas City, Missouri, and has two children with her late husband, Harold Holliday, Jr.: Holli and Harold Holliday, III.

Gayle Holliday was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 6, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.132

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/6/2019

Last Name

Holliday

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Patricia

Schools

Dunbar Elementary School

F.D. Moon Junior High School

Frederick A. Douglass High School

Howard University

Oklahoma City University

Central Michigan University

Webster University

First Name

Gayle

Birth City, State, Country

Oklahoma City

HM ID

HOL26

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

5/18/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Any American Dish

Short Description

Transportation executive, business consultant, and political activist Gayle Holliday (1944- ) began working for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority in 1975 before founding and becoming president and CEO of G&H Consulting, LLC. in 1996, and president of Freedom, Inc. in 2019.

Employment

Federal City College

KCMO-TV

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

G&H Consulting, LLC

Favorite Color

Pink

James A. Bell

Corporate executive James A. Bell was born on June 4, 1948 in South Central Los Angeles, California to Mamie and Clyde Bell. He attended and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, where he served in student government and was student body president his senior year. In 1997, he graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with his B.S. degree in accounting.

Bell began working as an accountant at Rockwell International Corporation, Atomics International Accounting Organization in 1972 in Canoga Park, California. In 1984, he supervised the team responsible for combining the financial activities of the Atomics International and Rocketdyne Divisions of the Rockwell Corporation. Two years later, Bell was promoted to the director of accounting where he remained until 1992 when he became director of business management for Rockwell’s Space Station Electric Power System Program. He remained here until 1996 when Boeing Company acquired the aerospace and defense division of Rockwell International. Bell was then promoted to vice president of Boeing’s contracts and pricing; and, in 2000, to senior vice president of finance and corporate controller. In this position, he served as Boeing’s principal interface with the board’s audit committee. Then, in 2003, he was appointed acting chief financial officer, a role he held until 2004. That same year, he was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of Boeing. In May of 2005, Bell was made acting chief executive officer and president in addition to his duties as chief financial officer and executive vice president. In 2008, he became corporate president. Bell then retired from Boeing in April of 2012.

Bell also served on numerous boards, including those of The Chicago Urban League, The Dow Chemical Company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., CDW, Apple, Inc., the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, The Economic Club of Chicago, World Business Chicago, New Leaders for New Schools, and Rush University Medical Center.

In 2004, at the 32nd Alumni Awards Gala, Bell was the recipient of California State University, Los Angeles's Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Business and Economics.

Bell and his wife, Mary Howell, married in 1981. They have two adult children, Sean and Champagne.

James A. Bell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 31, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.118

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/31/2019

Last Name

Bell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

California State University, Los Angeles

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

BEL09

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

If It's Too Good To Be Real, It's Not

Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/4/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Anelges

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Corporate executive James A. Bell (1948- ) was chief financial officer and corporate president of The Boeing Company.

Employment

Rockwell International; Atomics International

Rockwell International

The Boeing Company

Favorite Color

Black

Richelle Parham

Marketing executive Richelle Parham was born on November 8, 1967 in Baltimore, Maryland. After graduating from Bryn Mawr School for Girls in 1986, Parham received her B.S. degree in both marketing and design and merchandising from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1991.

While attending Drexel University, Parham interned with fashion brand Valentino, serving as an assistant to the national sales manager. Upon graduation, she was hired by Citibank to work as an account manager. She left Citibank in 1994 when she joined the marketing agency, Digitas, as an account manager, handling clients such as AT&T Wireless and American Express. In 2004, she was promoted to vice president and general manager of Digitas’ digital and direct marketing shop’s Chicago office, where she built the websites of companies like Motorola, IBM, and AT&T Wireless, and pioneered banner campaigns, email marketing, and affiliate networking. From 2007 to 2008, Parham worked for Rapp Collins Worldwide as vice president of strategy and enablement, working with corporations such as AIG and Apple. Visa hired Parham in 2008 to serve as head of global marketing services; and, in May 2010, she was promoted to head of global marketing innovations and initiatives. In October 2010, Parham left Visa and joined eBay as chief marketing officer where she oversaw all of eBay’s marketing operations and launched eBay Now, a same-day shipping service. Parham remained at eBay until its split with PayPal and subsequent restructuring in March, 2015. She joined the growth capital investment group, Camden Partners, in 2016, serving as a general partner focused on investments in global consumer companies in their growth stages.

Parham was made executive chair of the board of directors for the oral care product company, Shyn, in 2018. She has also served on the boards of mass media company, Scripps Network Interactive; technology nonprofit, Girls Who Code; Drexel University; clinical laboratory network, LabCorp; Best Buy; e.l.f. Cosmetics; and oral care product company, Ranir.

She has also received numerous awards for her work in the marketing industry, including the 2012 Women of Influence Award presented by the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal, 2011 Top Executives in Marketing and Advertising ranked by Black Enterprise, and induction into the Direct Marketing News Marketing Hall of Femme in 2013. In 2014, Forbes listed Parham as one of the 50 most influential CMO’s in the world, and in 2015, Black Enterprise named her amongst the 50 most powerful women in corporate America.

Parham is married to Sam Jones, and the two reside in Massachusetts.

Richelle Parham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 20, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.080

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/20/2019

Last Name

Parham

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Patricia

Schools

The Bryn Mawr School

Drexel University

First Name

Richelle

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

PAR14

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Costa Rica, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.$$Don't settle for mediocrity.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/8/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Indian food (Baingan Bharta) and sushi

Short Description

Marketing executive Richelle Parham (1967- ) worked in the marketing department of Digitas for thirteen years before becoming chief marketing officer of eBay.

Employment

Valentino

Citibank, N.A.

Digitas

Rapp Collins Worldwide

Visa, Inc.

eBay

Camden Partners

Favorite Color

Deep Purple

George Van Amson

Investment banker George Van Amson was born on January 30, 1952 in New York City, New York to Willie-Mae and Adolph Van Amson. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1970, and received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1974. Van Amson went on to receive his M.B.A degree with honors from Harvard Business School in 1982.

Upon graduating from Columbia University, Van Amson worked for Revlon and Citibank, before being hired as an analyst in the controller’s office at Goldman and Sachs in 1979. He left to pursue his master’s degree at Harvard Business School, and returned to Goldman and Sachs in 1982, where he worked as a trader, and eventually rose to vice president of equities in the firm’s trading and arbitrage division in 1986. In 1991, he was promoted to senior international trader, primarily trading Canadian and precious-metal stock, and making Goldman and Sachs the leader in underwriting Latin American financial issues. Morgan Stanley hired Van Amson in 1992, where he served in various senior trading roles before becoming manager of the sales trading service desk for global wealth management clients. Van Amson was later promoted to head of North American Analyst and Associate Advising Development programs, before also becoming managing director of sales and trading in the institutional equity division.

Van Amson served as chairman of Wall Street’s campaign for the United Negro College Fund, and president of the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association. A trustee emeritus at Columbia University, advisor for the finance committee of New York’s Riverside Church, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, he also served on the boards of the Metropolitan Opera, Columbia University’s Community Impact, and the Columbia Alumni Association.

Van Amson has received numerous awards during his career, including being named in Black Enterprise’s Top African Americans on Wall Street in 1992, 1996, and 2006. He was also the recipient of the 1993 World Economic Forum Global Leader award, the 2007 Racial Harmony award presented by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, the Distinguished Alumni award from Brooklyn Technical High School in 2013, and the Harvard Business School Alumni Professional Achievement Award in 2017.

Van Amson and his wife, Wendy, were married in 1986 and reside in New York City. They have three children; Alexandria, Victoria, and Skyler.

George Van Amson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 18, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.075

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/18/2019

Last Name

Van Amson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Louis

Occupation
Schools

Brooklyn Technical High School

Columbia University

Harvard Business School

P.S. 72 Dr. William Dorney School

P.S. 71 Rose E. Scala School

Henry J. Bruckner Jr. High School 101

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

New York City

HM ID

VAN09

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Lions don't concern themselves with the opinion of sheep.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/30/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All food...Porterhouse Steak or Fried Chicken

Employment

Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Morgan Stanley

Revlon

Citibank, N.A.

Favorite Color

Blue