On Thursday, the Teachers’ Insurance and Annuities Association of America, TIAA, announced former executive Thasunda Brown Duckett as its next CEO. When Duckett takes over her new role on May 1, she will become the second black woman to currently lead a Fortune 500 firm, joining Walgreens’ new CEO Rosalind Brewer on the list.
“I am so grateful for all the shoulders that I lean on,” Duckett, who currently serves as CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, said in an Instagram post. In addition to thanking his Chase colleagues for their support, Duckett also thanked his family and friends, saying “you create the space for me to live in my purpose.”
Born in Rochester, New York and raised in Texas, Duckett has been open about how her humble upbringing led her to a career in finance.
“When you know what it looks like in the fridge and you only see baking soda, or you know what it’s like to have the lights off, personal finances are important,” he told The New York Times in 2019.
As CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, a position she has held since 2016, Duckett has worked tirelessly not only to educate others about the importance of financial literacy, but also to diversify the flow of talent entering the field. In her role, she served as executive sponsor of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways program, an initiative focused on helping African Americans close historic achievement gaps in wealth, education, and career opportunities. She also served as a committee leader for the bank’s Women on the Move initiative that works to provide financial education to women, as well as career and business opportunities.
Prior to her current role, Duckett, who holds a BA from the University of Houston and an MBA from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, was CEO of Chase Auto Finance, Senior Vice President of Emerging Markets and Affordable Loans, and Senior Vice President of Home Loans. Before joining Chase in 2004, she began her career at Fannie Mae in 1996, helping lead affordable housing initiatives for people of color.
As the new CEO of TIAA, Duckett will not only be the second black woman to currently lead a Fortune 500 company, but she will also be the fourth black woman in history to serve as CEO of the Fortune 500. Ursula Burns was the first when she served as Xerox CEO from 2009 to 2016. And Mary Winston was second when she served as interim CEO at Bed Bath & Beyond in 2019 before being replaced by permanent CEO Mark Tritton.
Duckett will succeed current TIAA CEO Roger W. Ferguson Jr., who was just one of five black CEOs on the Fortune 500 list before Brewer’s announcement earlier this year. TIAA is the first company in Fortune 500 history to have two consecutive black CEOs.
Reflecting on his journey and the personal experiences he has faced along the way, Duckett says he immediately thought of his father when he first accepted his new role.
“I often think back to the day my father asked me to help him plan for retirement and I had to tell him, ‘Dad, your pension is not enough,'” she said in a statement. Duckett’s father, he says, worked at a Xerox warehouse in New Jersey before losing his job and moving the family to Texas. His mother, he says, worked as a school teacher. “Now, thanks to your work and sacrifices and the support of many others who have guided me throughout my life and career, I am blessed to join TIAA, which has paid over $ 500 billion in lifetime income. and other benefits since its founding in 1918.. “
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