EBONY EXCLUSIVE: Linda Johnson Rice Shares Her NMAAHC Experience
Linda Johnson Rice
Chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company | Former Chairman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations
- Shares invaluable lessons, she’s gained by building a world-renowned business brand, as well as her view of how far we’ve come as a nation and where we go from here
- Over the past 30 years, Linda has served on 10 corporate boards
- Featured in Chicago Sun-Times' list of Chicago’s 100 Most Powerful Women and the Top 10 Women in Media
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Ever since 2002, as chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company — where she became the first African American woman CEO among the top five of the Black Enterprise 100s largest black-owned companies — Linda Johnson Rice has shone a ray of positivity on the black community with her strong and resilient leadership.
Today, Johnson Rice continues to bring diverse and dynamic viewpoints to the business community through her extensive board experience. As President of the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors, she has significantly streamlined processes as well as brought a hands-on community approach to the Board. Linda also serves on the Board of Directors of Omnicom Group and Grubhub, and is also a council member of The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Northwestern Memorial Corporation; and a trustee at the Art Institute of Chicago. She previously served on the boards of Continental Bank; Bausch & Lomb; Dial Corporation; Viad Corp.; MoneyGram; Quaker Oats; Kimberly-Clark and Tesla.
She has successfully carried the torch of the family legacy through the sale of the treasured Ebony/Jet photo archives made possible by a consortium of foundations led by the J. Paul Getty Trust, with co-purchasers the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The archives are shared between the Getty Foundation and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Linda is currently the CEO of Johnson Publishing Company.
Education and Social Elevation: The Story of Johnson Publishing Company and Expanding African American Educational Opportunities. Education is the great equalizer, which is why the era of Civil Rights legislation began in earnest with Brown v. Board of Education. In the march toward equality, social justice and educational access must walk hand-in-hand in order to ensure a brighter future for all our children. Yet, economic and cultural barriers remain formidable obstacles for many minorities seeking to fulfill their academic potential and pursue the American Dream. These students need both knowledge and role models—education and inspiration—to succeed.
Ms. Rice will share how the history of Johnson Publishing Company, since its founding in 1942, has built partnerships between business, government and academia in order to expand access to education for minority scholars and widen the circle of opportunity for Americans of color.
Progress in Pictures: How Ebony and Jet told the story of the African-American Journey, From the Great Migration to the Present. When Ms. Rice’s father founded Johnson Publishing Company in 1942 thanks to a $500 loan, he sought to create an equivalent magazine to Life that would tell the story of the black experience in America. Over the next 75 years, in both vivid prose as well as indelible pictures, the pages of Ebony and Jet captured the stories of African-Americans, from the famous to the family next door.
Ms. Rice will tell the story of how JPC helped shape the Civil Rights movement by informing and inspiring its audience, a mission which continues to reach millions of readers each month. Her speech will be punctuated by material from the company’s invaluable media archives – a treasure house of more than six decades worth of iconic cultural treasures, including feature interviews, photo profiles and performances from celebrities, newsmakers and famous Black Americans in the sciences, business, sports, politics, culture, civil rights, education, medicine, and more. Ms. Rice’s presentation tells a comprehensive and compelling story of America, its past and its present.
Dream, but Don’t Fall Asleep: a Message for Young People on What it Takes to Dream Big and Dare to Try. For many young people – especially young women – examples of large accomplishments are ubiquitous in popular culture. Yet, examples of how to reach them are not. Linda’s mother and father reached the heights of success and became examples of African American achievement for millions, especially to Linda as a young girl. More importantly, however, they gave her concrete examples of the hard work and the many middle steps it takes to reach such success. They set her on a journey to college and graduate school, and taught her to work her way up from the smallest jobs within the family company to ones of increasing responsibility and importance. Linda shares her story for younger audiences, particularly those in high school, about how to find the mentors that guide the way to success. And she encourages young people to earn the hard-won qualities necessary to realize their full potential. It is a story meant for strivers of all ages, and an inspirational message for everyone who dreams big and dares to try.
Don’t Brace for Change; Embrace It: Adapting to Change In a Transformational Business Market. As Chairman of Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), the largest African-American owned publishing firm in the United States, Linda Johnson Rice will take us through the choices she made to implement bold changes at her iconic company during a pivotal moment in its history. Learn how Rice made the critical business decisions to transition from CEO to Chairman, hire female senior executive talent, and navigate the changing media landscape to maintain relevancy and market share. Leave the meeting inspired to embrace change in your professional life!
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The event went super well! Our leadership team and all our employees enjoyed her speech and we had great questions/conversation. Linda was awesome to work with on the back-end the entire time.