In recognition of Black History Month, we're sharing snapshots of Black Americans who were and are pioneers in their industries, with a special focus on financial services.
Sharon Bowen was the first African American commissioner appointed to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as well as the first Black woman named chair of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Previously, Bowen served as vice-chair and then acting chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Before these government positions, Bowen had a three-decade career in corporate and transactional law.
John W. Rogers Jr. and Mellody Hobson are Co-CEOs of Ariel Investments, LLC, a Chicago-based investment firm with $15 billion in assets. When Ariel Investments was founded by Rogers in 1983, it was the first Black-owned investment management firm in the country. They have also launched Ariel Alternatives, a private fund business with a strategic initiative to scale sustainable minority-owned businesses. The initiative aims to close the racial wealth gap by generating jobs, economic growth, and equality within underrepresented populations from entry level to the boardroom.
Robert Louis Johnson is an American entrepreneur, media magnate, executive, philanthropist, and investor. He is the co-founder of BET, the first cable television network to target African American viewers. He also founded RLJ Companies, a holding company that invests in various business sectors. In 2001, Johnson became the first African American billionaire, and his companies have counted among the most prominent African American businesses in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
The Honorable Mary K. Bush founded Bush International in 1991, advising on financing and business development strategies, internationally. Bush is well known in international financial circles for innovative financial and business strategies that have helped transform markets. She has served three U.S. Presidents — as the U.S. Government’s representative on the IMF Board, head of the Federal Home Loan Bank System and board member of Sally Mae.