First lady Michelle Obama is a true representation of black female leadership. Before Barack Obama won the presidency, Michelle Obama was a lawyer at a prestigious law firm and served as executive director of Public Allies, a nonprofit organization that prepares young, disadvantaged individuals for jobs in public service.
Today, Michelle Obama’s, “Let’s Move! Campaign,” has helped childhood obesity rates decline by 40 percent.
Lupita Nyong’o recently won an Oscar Best Supporting Actress for her riveting performance in 12 Years a Slave. She became the first Kenyan to win an Academy Award. But beyond her Oscar win, there is a greater impact to her portrayal.
”While it appeared she played a slave — what she did was invoke and portray an ancestor — who like millions of others survived the horrors of slavery with their incredible strength and dignity so we could be here today. They should be remembered and praised, and so should she, for ensuring their presence on-screen reminder of the beauty and power of the people we came from,” says Michael Simanga, former director of the National Black Arts Festival.
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey is the first woman and black American to be named president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It’s the largest philanthropic foundation in the nation devoted to health care. With $9.2 million in assets, the organization bestows $400 million in grants per year for heath care. Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey also served on President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most powerful individuals in the world. She has changed the landscape of media and her influence on culture is incomparable. But Winfrey has also made it her duty to give back. She has given $40 million to charity and has been named the most charitable celebrity.
Along with being the star of ABC’s hit show, ”Scandal,” Kerry Washington was also named as one of the most charitable celebrities. Washington serves on President Obama’s Presidential Committee on Arts and Humanities and advocates for arts education.
Rosalind Brewer made history by becoming the first black American and woman to become a CEO of a Walmart business unit. As the president and CEO of SAM’s Club, Brewer leads a company that earned revenues of $56 billion in 2013. She also serves on the board of directors for Lockheed Martin Corporation and is chair of the board of trustees at Spelman College.
Beyoncé caught some flack for the shocking sexual themes on her latest album, Beyoncé. But she has given back tremendously to female causes with her Chime for Change campaign. Co-founded by Beyoncé, Chime for Change has helped to fund more than 200 projects in 70 countries.
Queen Latifah continues to thrive as an actress, musician and daytime talk-show host. But Latifah has made it a point to give to charities such as Keep A Child Alive, The Trevor Project, Citymeals-On-Wheels, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the Harry Holmberg Memorial Foundation.
Ursula Burns began her career at Xerox Corporation as an intern. She is now the CEO of Xerox and overseas a company that brings in over $22 billion in revenue. Burns has also served on professional community boards for MIT Corporation, Exxon Mobil and American Express.
Gabby Douglas endured years of racist bullying while climbing the ranks as a gymnast. During an interview with Oprah, she revealed that her white teammates called her “slave.” However, Douglas never let the naysayers trample her spirit. She made history in 2012 by becoming the first woman of color to win the individual all-around gold medal in gymnastics at the Summer Olympics.