Thasunda Brown Duckett is now the second Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company following her appointment as the president and chief executive of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA).
The 47-year-old will succeed Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. as TIAA’s president and CEO of the $1 trillion money management firm beginning May 1, the company said Thursday. Duckett is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Chase Consumer Banking, a division of JP Morgan. She is also the first Black woman to be named on JP Morgan’s Operating Committee.
“Thasunda is widely recognized as an exceptionally dynamic and inspirational leader,” Ronald L. Thompson, who chairs the board of TIAA said. “She brings invaluable experience leading and growing large, complex businesses, setting and executing strategy, improving client experience and attracting and developing talent. Equally important, she [has] a passion for financial inclusion and empowerment.”
At Chase, Duckett managed a banking network with more than $600 billion in deposits across 4,900 branches with more than 40,000 employees.
Accord to CNN, there have only been 19 Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies since the Fortune 500 list was launched in 1955. Currently, there are only three Black CEOs: Marvin Ellison of Lowe’s, Rosalind Brewer at Walgreens and Duckett at TIAA.
“TIAA’s action is indicative of our mantra of diversity at the top being an imperative for driving diversity throughout the organization,” Crystal Ashby, the interim CEO of the Executive Leadership Council which works towards raising the presence of Black executives, told CNN.
The Fortune 500 has been without a Black woman CEO since Ursula Burns left Xerox in 2016. Last month when Brewer was appointed as CEO of Walgreens, she became the only Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company. Duckett is now the second woman to achieve this feat.
“I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to lead a company that has helped millions of people retire with ‘enough’ to live in dignity,” Duckett said in a statement, adding that she is “excited about the opportunity to help TIAA chart its next 100 years.”
In 2018, Duckett was named one of the most powerful women in banking by American Banker magazine. In 2019, she was named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful “Women to Watch.”
Duckett serves on a number of boards. They include the boards of Nike, Inc., Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the Children’s Learning Center of Fairfield County, CT. In addition, she is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Hankamer School of Business.
Duckett is from Texas and began her career at Fannie Mae, leading affordable housing initiatives for people of color. She holds a B.A. in finance and marketing from the University of Houston and an MBA from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. She is married and has four children. Duckett grew up in a family that faced economic challenges. Her dad, Otis Brown, worked for Xerox in New Jersey as a truck driver. When the company was closed, her family relocated to Texas where her mom, Rosie, found a job as a teacher. In North Texas, they started over in an apartment using crates as makeshift furniture.
Education was a priority in her family, therefore, the struggles of her family did not impede her education and her two brothers.
TIAA is a financial services provider in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields. It has $1.3 trillion in assets under management and offers a wide range of financial solutions, including investing, banking, advice and education, and retirement services.