So, it basically goes without saying that we are living in a new day—in the absolute best way. The liberation of basic racial equality has welcomed itself into our homes and told everyone that they live with us now (word to Christopher Columbus).
Additionally, with companies in such a rush to suddenly scream "Black Lives Matter", without monetary compensation or legislative outreach, lately we find ourselves side-eyeing major brands, being more intentional with how we spend our very valuable black dollar, and asking: yeah, that's cute, but what does your board look like?
In 2018, Black women gained just 13 seats of the 1,222 seats at the Fortune 100 table (32 were gained at Fortune 500 companies). And although this is a historical high, we undoubtedly have an extremely long way to go. Despite it all, sitting on the Board of Directors is a major accomplishment, so we're here to highlight a few women making their mark by doing just that.
Here are 10 pioneering women who are packing up their melanin, and pulling up to the C-Suite:
1.Susan Rice | Netflix
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Ambassador Susan Rice's resume comes stacked with foreign and political accolades that stretches from the east coast to the west coast. She served on President Barack Obama's Cabinet as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and as a national security advisor prior to being appointed as a Board Member with Netflix. Rice is even up for consideration as a VP candidate for Joe Biden's upcoming election.
Cousin to former US Secretary of State, Condeleezza Rice, Susan has received more than 50 major awards for her work in expanding opportunity and advancing multi-racial democracy.
In other words, sis does not play.
Expect to hear more about her impressive background as she comes to the forefront. You can also learn more about her on her social media accounts, where she often shows off her work and beautiful family.
2.Ursula Burns | Uber
Ursula Burns is the first black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Xerox), where she sat from 2010 to 2016. I'll say that again since it's 2020 and whatnot: Ursula Burns is the first black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The first black woman CEO.
With Xerox, she managed to transform its business model and generate $18 billion in revenue. Again, I said billion.
Recently, Burns made headlines when she went on CNBC's Closing Bell and stated, "I'm part of the 1%, and I still worry when I'm approached by a police person." And to back it up, she has publicly called on other companies to diversify their portfolios, something that she is willingly taking head-on.
"Before you even look at the companies, look at the boards. Most of the boards still have zero or one African-American on board, and I think pressure in that area, can help to speed up progress and transitions for companies."
Whew, Ursula Burns ladies and gentlemen.
3.Edith Cooper | Etsy, Slack
Edith Cooper served as a Capital Management Head for Goldman Sach's for over 20 years before retiring and joining Esty and Slack's Board of Directors. She was named in Black Enterprise's 2017 "300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America" list, and was recognized by Crain's New York Business as one of the "Most Powerful Women", among many other awards and honors that would take days for me to list. So, it goes without saying that Ms. Edith is a chief in her own right.
According to her Linkedin profile, Cooper now acts as a co-founder of Medley, which is described as an organization that "harnesses the power of small groups to help people grow."
She credits her family life for making her more focused in life and at work, enhancing her ability to identify ideas and opportunities with impact. And what's even more inspiring about her representation, is she's not afraid to show up to her headshots with a killer twist out.
4.Linda Johnson Rice | Grubhub
Queen Linda is the former CEO of EBONY and Jet—a position she resigned from last year. Since joining Grubhub in 2016, she has also served on the board of directors of Tesla, Inc. and Kimberly-Clark Corporation, so if there's one thing she knows about, it's a boardroom.
Rice now resides in Chicago, where she also is a Trustee at the Art Institute of Chicago, President of the Chicago Public Library board of directors, a founding member of the Council of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a founding member of the Adweek Diversity & Inclusion Council, Northwestern Memorial Corporation and much more.
5.Serena Williams | Poshmark, Survey Monkey
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There's not much more that needs to be said about the greatest athlete of all time, but here's Serena Williams.
As if dominating an entire sport, while simultaneously being a loving wife and mother isn't enough, Serena also manages to sit on not one, but two boards: Survey Monkey (a market research software platform which she joined in 2017) and Poshmark (a consignment apparel reselling company which she joined in 2019).
And I could literally go on and on for hours about how amazing both her and her sister, Venus, are (Venus also sits on the board of Zeel)—but I mean, you guys know.
Additionally, in 2014, Williams launched, Serena Ventures, a venture capitalist company focusing on start-ups, to continue to build and provide opportunities to businesses—with some companies in her profile including The Wing, Daily Harvest, and Olly.
Expect to see even more monumental and superstar-caliber moves across the board from this giant.
6.Rosalind G. Brewer | Amazon
Rosalind Brewer is the current COO of Starbucks, and former President and CEO of Sam's Club. She is the first black person to both of those positions at each of those companies. Brewer also chairs the board of trustees at Spelman College, a prominent HBCU.
Most impressively, Brewer has been listed as the "57th Most Powerful Woman In The World" by Forbes, a title she has been given numerous times by the publication.
A bar that she has set at an airplane altitude.
7.Peggy Alford | Facebook
Like so many before her, Peggy is the first black woman to join her board and the second black person in Facebook's history behind Kenneth Chenault, the CEO of AMEX.
The self-proclaimed "unapologetically reserved" titan had gotten her start at eBay, after they acquired Rent.com and asked her to be CFO. Alford is currently an SVP of Global Sales at Paypal, with no plans of slowing down any time soon.
Outside of her resume, you can find her happily being a mom to her three boys, who she adores most and she credits to keeping her balanced.
8.Robin Washington | Salesforce.com, Honeywell, Alphabet Inc.
Robin Washington is a superhuman within her own right. As the former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Gilead Sciences Inc., Washington has managed to become the only black woman on Salesforce's board, and one of the only two African-Americans—the other being Colin Powell.
And since her professional retirement in 2018, Washington has pivoted her career to include being a professional board member by also joining Honeywell and Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google).
She has been named Financial Woman of the Year by peer organizations in Silicon Valley, continued to be a commodity in business and finance operations, and continuously provides strategic oversight in investor relations.
In other words, she is corporate royalty.
9.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | Twitter, Gavi, African Risk Capacity
And speaking of royalty, in walks the phenom Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She's a Nigerian-born economist, specializing in international development. She joined Twitter's board upon Debra Lee's departure—directly appointed—and as the former Managing Director at World Bank, Okonjo-Iweala has somehow managed to fly under the radar of being a black woman you need to know.
But to put it blatantly, get to know her work. She is a major contributor to societal evolution and the merging of Black America to Nigeria, as well as other African countries. Per Forbes, she is the first woman to be the finance minister and the foreign minister of the West African country with a GDP of $502 billion.
In other words, a board is the least of her accomplishments.
Diaspora gap shrinkage, we see you!
10. Debra Lee | Marriott, AT&T
Jamie Lamor Thompson / Shutterstock.com
Debra Lee, Debra Lee.
This BET Networks constructor, who single-handedly took on the job of cleaning up and welcoming so many African-American programs into the forefront, is responsible for the careers and history-making moments of some of our favorite artists. She retired in 2018, after 13 years at the head of the table but sis is very much so still making her mark.
She has since joined both Marriott and AT&T's Board after retiring from Twitter's in 2019.
"When you have diverse people on your board, people are going to hold you accountable. Once you have one person in the room or a couple of people, you can hold the company's feet to the fire. I'm not going to sit in a boardroom, where I'm the only black woman, and not ask why there isn't another black woman, or why there aren't other people of color."
And to prove how much she backs up what she says, when she resigned from Twitter's board, she demanded her replacement be a black woman, which turned out to be Nigerian businesswoman, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (also listed in this article).
Lee has recently hinted in possibly launching a tech fund for women of color, so stay tuned for what (and who) she is bringing to her table.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
They say you can’t heal in the same place that made you sick. And I couldn’t.
The year was 2019, and I knew I had to go. My spirit was calling me to be alone and to go alone. It was required in that season. A few months prior, I had quit my job. And it was late 2017 when I had met trauma.
I was completely broken, and every part of me hurt. I was no longer the lighthearted Camille that everyone loved and knew me to be. I remember a family friend saying, “You’re not the same.” And I wasn’t. I no longer recognized the girl looking back at me in the mirror. I needed major healing.
It was 2018 when I found the courage to seek mental health therapy. At that point, I knew there was nothing more that my friends could do for me. I was all cried out, and the silence was killing me. At the time, I was diagnosed with clinical anxiety, depression, and PTSD. How?
How did I let trauma take complete control of my life? But I had to forgive myself for all the things I did not know.
At the time, my therapist introduced me to journaling as a coping mechanism. Words ultimately became my best friend. In many ways, I would like to think that writing saved me. I am in love with words, and I always have been. My writing was and still is my safe space. It unlocked opportunities I never imagined – like writing for xoNecole.
And with this gift, I can now tell you a story about my own trauma, healing, self-discovery, and the journey to learning how to celebrate myself.
Starting a Healing Journey
In early Spring 2019, I was told by a Reiki healer that I was going to embark on a journey. She told me it was going to be lonely, but I was never alone. The thing is I never once mentioned to this woman my travel plans. It was August 2019 when I planned my solo trip to Europe. It was going to be 38 days alone on a continent I knew absolutely nothing about. By the end of summer and a nine-hour flight later, I touched down in London.
I fell in love with every single thing. I fell in love with everything I could see – colors, cobblestone streets, spiral staircases, adorned windows, architecture, garden terraces, nature, and people. I fell in love with everything I could hear – accents, language, history, and music. I fell in love with everything I could taste – wines, foods, and desserts. I fell in love with everything I could feel – ocean breezes, white sands, and well-designed buildings. I fell in love with everything that fed my soul. People, stories, and connections. I fell in love with myself.
I always say women have the ability to heal others naturally. It was here in my travels that I started to pay attention to the concepts of purpose, connection, energy, alignment, and universal signs. I began to truly realize not only my strengths and universal gifts but also how to use them too. I started to step into my authentic self. I began to realize who Camille really was. A free spirit with a heart of gold.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
A New Season
By the time I had returned from Europe, it was late Fall 2019, and I was a completely different person.
I spent most of my time pouring into myself. Self-development and self-love became key. Everything that I previously settled for in family, friends, and relationships – I went and gave to myself. Read that again. I became completely in love with who I was becoming, and I still am. I had let go of tradition, conditional beliefs, people pleasing, and living my life to make my parents proud.
I had let go of being a “straight arrow,” and the idea of having it all figured out. I outgrew tradition and cultural norms. Sometimes, those things can be so blinding.
I began to shift. I adopted and altered the things that aligned with my purpose and values.
I became risk-tolerant instead of risk-averse.
I canceled my fears.
I welcomed uncertainty, knowing I would always land on my feet.
This newfound level of confidence came out of nowhere. It was no longer a question of if I can do this. The question became, how can I do this? I stayed open to possibilities and opportunities in whichever form they came to me. I became selective and intentional with my time and energy, too. I went from being a 9 to 5 government employee, then a corporate consultant, to a small business owner not once but twice by 2021.
If you ask me who I am now, I would say I am authentically a creative. I write from my heart, and I speak from my core. My voice is my power, and my words hold weight. By trade, I am a paralegal and a business consultant.
How Trauma Shows Up in the Body
Even though I was able to heal my heart, my mind, and my spirit, I wasn’t quite done healing. And I didn’t even know it. In the last seven years, I gained weight. This was a direct result of a broken heart, emotional trauma, mental health issues, stress, and poor lifestyle choices. I was a good 50 pounds overweight, too. I knew something was wrong with my body when it stopped responding to my dietary and lifestyle efforts.
I started to advocate for my health in the winter of 2022 to get clarity and answers. I sought the care of medical specialists, asked the right questions, requested second opinions, and tested and retested my blood. Not one doctor could properly diagnose me, either.
When Western medicine failed me, I chose holistic medicine. What I learned and what I understood was that my physical health issues were a straight-up trauma response. I cried. I was always conscious about my health, and now I’m sick with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Yes, PTSD triggers and is linked to autoimmune diseases.
I remember thinking, “I did this to myself, and I have to fix it.”
I spent the majority of 2023 detoxing with Chinese herbs, making every lifestyle change possible. My body was holding on to dead weight – it had to go for me to continue to become.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
Summer 2023 couldn’t come any faster. I completed my holistic detox with sacrifice and ease. While everyone saw just a “body transformation,” for me, it was an emotional release.
I was no longer reminded of what transpired. I cried again.
There were so many days, months, and years that I thought I would never get me back. And I believed it. I mean, who wouldn’t? Medical experts adamantly told me that there was nothing wrong with me. All I wanted was to feel like myself again. I missed me so badly.
I looked for me everywhere. I couldn’t find her until I paused and did the inner work.
I wouldn’t change one thing about my healing journey. It all had to happen so I could be in this current moment. And this girl right here – I know exactly who she is. I know what she stands for through and through. And I’ll never stray from that.
I’ve grown so much, yet in some ways, I’m rediscovering who this girl is again. It’s so intoxicating.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
Returning to Europe
I have always wanted to go back to Europe. Europe is a magical place to be. It's the energy, the people, and the lifestyle for me. But the timing wasn’t right. It took the wedding of a close friend of mine to make my return happen. I returned to Europe in August 2023. This time to Greece.
At first, I didn’t realize the significance of the timing. But make no mistake, this was alignment, a full circle moment, and a testimony to myself. I started a healing journey in August 2019, and I returned as a completely different person this year.
Happy, whole, and healed. Resilient and confident.
I knew I was meant to share a pivotal moment in my friend’s life and celebrate myself. My word for 2023 was joy, and I wanted all of it. More importantly, I deserved it.
I fell in love with everything all over again. Everything that I can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste, that is. I created moments and memories. And I felt each moment and memory deeply in new places and with new faces. Greece owed me absolutely nothing. Europe will always and forever have a special place in my heart.
My five-year healing journey taught me to always choose myself. I am grateful because my entire journey brought me home to myself. And one thing about me is that when I am in the right environment — I thrive. Always.
The journey to self-discovery is worth the uncomfortable moments and ugly crying. It’s worth the undoing, redoing, and reprocessing to finally come to a place of happiness, peace, and being comfortable in your own skin.
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