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Power Monday: Ursula Burns

Women have been present in the business world for a while now – but we’re still working on climbing the corporate ladder (not to mention getting paid the same as our male counterparts). I’m sure every woman CEO out there has some pretty incredible stories. Ursula Burns is one of these women. As the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Xerox), she blazed her own trail to a place no one has gone before or since. For this and many other reasons, Ursula Burns is this week’s Power Monday EDF.

photo via michaelrubottom

Why she kicks butt: First and foremost, she’s never been afraid of being herself on her journey to the top. This year, she’s listed in Forbes as the 27th most powerful woman, a climb of epic proportions during her three-decade tenure (and she’s only 52!) at Xerox. Burns landed a job at Xerox after she was a summer intern in 1980; she joined the company full-time after earning her master’s at Columbia University. In my opinion, one of the coolest things about Ursula is that she loves what she does. Of course, that doesn’t make running a Fortune 500 company a piece of cake – but it sure as heck makes it a lot easier. I was lucky enough to see her speak at MIT Commencement this year, and I can tell you firsthand that she is an absolute inspiration.

10 things you might not know (source and source, except where otherwise noted):

  • Burns was raised by a single mom in a NYC housing project.
  • Her mother scraped together the funds to send her to Catholic school and on to college.
  • She is married and has two children.
  • Her elder son attends MIT.
  • She oversees a staff of 134,000 people (that’s the size of Warren, Michigan).
  • She serves on a number of boards, including American Express, Boston Scientific, FIRST, National Association of Manufacturers, University of Rochester, the MIT Corporation, the Rochester Business Alliance and the RUMP Group.
  • At a Fortune dinner in 2008, she said, “I’ve had many mentors, but the one that has the most impact was my mother.”
  • Along with Anne Mulcahy, Burns “saved Xerox in a historic turnaround” (source). You go, ladies!
  • The CEO baton-pass between Mulcahy and Burns was the first ever woman-to-woman CEO succession in the Fortune 500.
  • Burns has a sign in her office that reads, “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mom proud!”
Happy Monday – go make your mammas proud!

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Power Monday: Pat Summitt

We all know that women’s sports don’t get nearly enough attention from the media, or from the general public (or maybe we don’t all know, because it’s so absent from coverage that we don’t even stop to think about it). Why is this? I’m not going to try and answer that question, but it’s food for thought on this Labor Day Monday. While most of you probably aren’t working, I thought Labor Day’s Power Monday would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate an EDF that just doesn’t stop working. She’s like the Energizer bunny, maybe mixed with a rock ’em-sock ’em. Pat Summitt is the head coach of University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team, and she is this week’s Power Monday EDF.

pat summit

Why she kicks butt: Coach Summitt has been the head of the Lady Vol basketball team for 37 years. That’s dedication, folks. And she rocks at what she does: she has the most wins of any coach ever of any men’s or women’s NCAA basketball team in any division. WOAH. The current numbers are 1,037 wins to 196 losses, 8 of those being NCAA Championships. The former number is sure to rise as she continues coaching this season, despite being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease this year. She’s known as quite the toughie, and according to the Washington Post she nearly knocked out the doctor who told her about her condition, saying, “Do you have any idea who you’re dealing with?”

10 things you might not know (source, except where noted otherwise):

  • She has two dogs, Sally Sue and Sadie.
  • She’s “just Pat” to all her athletes.
  • She never missed a day of school from kindergarten through high school.
  • There are two basketball courts and a gym named for her.
  • She’s behind only one coach (UCLA’s John Wooden) for most NCAA Championship titles.
  • In 2003 she was appointed for a spot on the Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
  • In 2007 she was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report.
  • She’s involved in numerous charities, including (but probably not limited to)  United Way, The Race for the Cure, Juvenile Diabetes, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and  the Tennessee Easter Seal Society.
  • She was co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team (which took home the silver medal).
  • Her son Tyler hopes to follow in her footsteps. Cool!
Happy Labor Day!

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