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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spotlight: Ursula Burns

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Every month, this blog will spotlight exceptional black women whose stories inspire us all to challenge our ideas of what it means to be black and female. Today I celebrate Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company.

Born into an immigrant family in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, many people told Ursula Burns that she had three strikes against her - being a poor black girl. Burns and her mother saw the world differently. Burns earned her Mechanical Engineering degree from the Polytechnic Institute. 

She took an internship with Xerox in 1980 and joined permanently a year later. In 1981 she earned her master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University, and in 2009 Burns became the first African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to follow another female CEO (Anne Mulchaly).
"I realized I was more convincing to myself and to the people who were listening when I actually said what I thought, versus what I thought people wanted to hear me say."- Ursula Burns 

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