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Howard Leadership "Conversations" Feature Nation's Top CEOs and Executives

WASHINGTON (Feb. 11) -- Two alumni have brought together some of the world’s most important and influential CEOs and executives for an extraordinary eight-week lecture series at Howard University in which they explore what it means to be a leader.

The Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy, which was established by government and business leader Gwendolyn King and her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Colbert King, is sponsoring the series, “Conversations on Leadership.” 

Richard Parsons, chairman of Citigroup and former chairman and CEO of Time Warner, organized the series and recruited the speakers.

The speakers include Parsons, Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express, Ursula Burns, chairwoman and CEO of Xerox, and Vernon Jordan, Jr., a senior managing director of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC and Howard Board Trustee.

During the Wednesday sessions, students and University members will learn the theories of leadership, the skills and traits associated with great leaders and a frame of reference for analyzing and evaluating the effectiveness of various leaders' actions in differing contexts.

Richard Parsons, chairman of Citibank and former chair of Time Warner, laid out his prescription for what makes a leader during the first session Wednesday, Feb. 9, in the Gallery Room in Blackburn Center.  Parsons organized the sessions, which are 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. through April 13 at various locations at the University.

About the speakers:

Richard Parsons

Richard Parsons began his career as legal counsel to New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, and was later managing partner of the New York law firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler.  He was then named chief operating officer of the Dime Bank, one of the largest thrift institutions in the United States. He later joined Time Warner as president, and eventually became CEO in 2002.  Parsons was named chairman in 2003 and remained until 2008. He also has served on a number of boards and commissions including the Mayor's Commission on Economic Opportunity in New York, the Apollo Theatre Foundation, and the boards of Howard University, the Museum of Modern Art, Citigroup and Estée Lauder.  Parsons has also served as an economic advisor to President Barack Obama. Parsons was appointed the first holder of the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University.

Date: 2/9/2011 Location: Blackburn Center, Gallery Lounge

Ted Chin is the former chairman and chief strategic officer of Ted Chin & Company, Inc., a strategic marketing/advertising company he founded in 1974. Clients included domestic and international companies, including several Fortune 500 companies.  Prior to founding his own company, Chin was a vice president at Publicis, a French advertising and communications company..  After selling his company in 2007, Chin became a senior advisor to several former client companies. More recently, Chin became an advisor to Teton Advisors, an affiliate of the investment firm Gabelli & Co.

Date: 2/16/2011 Location: Browsing Room in Founder's Library

Ursula Burns Ursula Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern and later assumed roles in product development and planning. From 1992 through 2000, Burns led several business teams. In 2000, she was named senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, heading up manufacturing and supply chain operations. She then took on the broader role of leading Xerox's global research as well as product development, marketing and delivery. 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 chief executive officer in July 2009 and assumed the role of chairman of the company on May 20, 2010. Burns has also served as a board member of the Rochester Business Alliance, American Express, Boston Scientific Corporation, and the University of Rochester. Burns was named by President Barack Obama to help lead the White House national program on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and was appointed vice chair of the President’s Export Council.

Date: 2/23/2011 Location: Browsing Room in Founder's Library

Valerie B. Jarrett is senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. Prior to her current position, she served as co-chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, and senior advisor to Obama's presidential campaign. Prior to joining Obama, Jarrett was president and chief executive officer of The Habitat Company, a real estate development firm. Jarrett served for eight years in Chicago government as deputy corporation counsel for Finance and Development, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley and commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Before her city government service, Ms. Jarrett practiced law with two private law firms.

Date: 3/2/2011 Location: School of Business Auditorium

Vernon Jordan, Jr Vernon Jordan, Jr. (J.D. ’60) is a senior managing director of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC in New York, a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees and an annual member of the Rankin Chapel Speakers Series in Cramton Auditorium. Prior to joining Lazard, Jordan was a senior executive partner with the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, where he remains senior counsel.  Jordan has served as president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League, Inc., executive director of the United Negro College Fund, Inc.; and director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council.  Jordan’s corporate and other directorships include American Express Company (senior advisor), Asbury Automotive Group, Inc., Howard University (trustee), Lazard Ltd; Xerox Corporation, and International Advisory Board of Barrick Gold.
Date: 3/9/2011 Location: School of Business Auditorium

Kenneth Chenault Kenneth Chenault is one the first African Americans to become the chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 firm. Chenault rose through the ranks of American Express, a $19 billion company, at a time when employee diversity was of negligible concern. He was appointed as chief operating officer in 1997 and CEO in 2001. Before American Express, Chenault was a management consultant with Bain & Co. and an attorney with Rogers & Wells. Chenault serves on the boards of several other corporate and nonprofit organizations, including IBM, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Date: 3/23/2011 Location: Browsing Room, Founders Library

Joel Klein Joel Klein is former chancellor of New York City schools, which has 1,600 schools with 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees, and a $21-billion operating budget. Klein was formerly chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, Inc., and chief U.S. liaison officer to Bertelsmann AG, an international media company.  Klein has been an assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division, Acting Assistant Attorney General and the antitrust division’s principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and deputy counsel to President Bill Clinton.   Klein has served as chairman of the board of the Green Door, a pioneer community-based treatment program for mentally ill residents of the District of Columbia, and as treasurer of the World Federation for Mental Health. He has also served on the board of several non-profit organizations, including the National Symphony Orchestra Association.

Date: 3/30/2011 Location: Browsing Room, Founders Library

Lonnie G. Bunch, historian, author, curator and educator, is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bunch was previously president of the Chicago Historical Society, where he led the museum through a reorganization and capital campaign. Bunch has spent nearly 30 years in the museum field where he is regarded as one of the nation’s leading figures in the cultural-historical community. He has held several positions at the Smithsonian. As the National Museum of American History’s associate director for Curatorial Affairs, he oversaw the curatorial and collections management staff of nearly 200 in addition to leading the curatorial team that developed the major permanent exhibition “American Presidency: A Glorious Burden.” He was an education specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where he developed multi-cultural instructional programs and researched and wrote the history of African Americans in aviation.

Date: 4/6/2011 Location: Browsing Room, Founders Library

Gwendolyn Stewart King Gwendolyn Stewart King (B.A.’62) served as a commissioner of the Social Security Administration and as a director of Monsanto Company, Marsh & McLennan Companies and Lockheed Martin Corporation.  

Colbert King Colbert King (B. A. ’61) is a columnist for The Washington Post. In 2003, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for what the committee called his “against the grain columns that speak to people in power with ferocity and wisdom.”The Kings established the chair to reflect their years in public service and the media.

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