by Kweli Wright
African American working mothers are making their mark on this generation, especially in the high-powered, demanding business field. Meet some of the best and brightest. Each of these moms has at least one child–some are young children and others are young adults. But what all have in common is that they all have powerful moms who bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan…and help make the world a better place.
Xerox, Chairman and CEO
Raised by a single mother in New York City, Ursula Burns was ready to bust through the glass ceiling from the moment she received her science degree in Mechanical Engineering at New York University and then received a Masters of Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern and later assumed roles in product development and planning, before becoming an executive assistant to then CEO Paul Allaiire in 1991. By 1999, she became president for global manufacturing and senior vice president Corporate Strategic Services in 2000. In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to also include the company’s IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing and global accounts. Burns was named CEO in July 2009 and assumed the role of chairman of the company on May 20, 2010. Burns helped bring the office solutions giant back into the black and has been instrumental in revitalizing the brand by restructuring the financial plan and streamlining operations.
Outside the company, Burns is the mother of two children. Burns was named by President Barack Obama to help lead the White House national program on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in November 2009 and was appointed vice chair of the President’s Export Council in March 2010.