Commencement Orator

Kenneth I. Chenault
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
American Express Company

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Kenneth I. Chenault is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express Company. He assumed his current responsibilities as CEO on January 1, 2001, and as Chairman on April 23 of the same year. He joined the company in September 1981 as Director of Strategic Planning, and rose through the ranks based on performance. He was named President of the Consumer Card Group in 1989, and became President of Travel Related Services (TRS), which encompassed all of the United States American Express’ card and travel businesses, in 1993. He assumed additional responsibility for the company’s worldwide card and travel businesses and also was named Vice Chairman of American Express in 1995. He was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer in February 1997.

He began his career in corporate law as an attorney with Rogers & Wells from 1977 to 1979. Then, he continued for another two years as a management consultant with Bain & Co., before being recruited by American Express.

He serves on the boards of American Express and several other corporate and nonprofit organizations, including: IBM; the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health; the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University; the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History & Culture; the Phoenix House Foundation; and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. He also is on the boards of the Partnership for New York City, The Business Council and the Business Roundtable, and serves as Vice Chairman of each of these organizations.

A wide variety of civic, social service, and community organizations have recognized his public service leadership. He has received the Phoenix House Public Service Award, the Corporate Responsibility Award from the International Rescue Committee, and the Wall Street Rising Leadership Award, among others. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Bowdoin College, a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard University School of Law School, and is the recipient of a number of honorary degrees from several universities.

He and his wife, Kathryn, live in New York with their two children.