Directors to Watch 2022: Racial & Ethnic Diversity

Andrea Zopp

Director, Henry Ford Health System, Relativity, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Empowerment & Inclusion Capital I Corp. 

Andrea Zopp is an accomplished executive and board member who has brought strategic management and leadership to senior roles in the public and private sector. She has been a transformational CEO at two organizations and has served as a member of the executive leadership team at two Fortune 100 companies and as deputy mayor of Chicago.
 
Zopp currently serves as managing partner at venture investment firm Cleveland Avenue LLC. She has substantial experience in banking, consumer products and retail. Her expertise includes business strategy, human capital, governance and crisis and risk management.

Zopp previously served as a director of Andrew Corporation and Urban Partnership Bank.

Compensation plans are part of the trust equation. “The ability to hire and retain key talent topped the list of the biggest risks in a recent survey of C-suite executives. No surprise: Talent matters to corporate performance and growth. The Great Resignation has made the board’s governance role in ensuring that the company’s compensation system is fair and effective in incentivizing and retaining talent more important than ever. Good boards will ask questions and help companies strategize on the scope of compensation plans and develop metrics and goals that will not only drive results but also connect with and matter to their people.”

 

Torrence Boone

Director, Macy’s

As vice president, global client partnerships, Torrence Boone drives Google’s strategy and multibillion-dollar business across a portfolio of the world’s largest global advertisers, spanning the tech, health/beauty and CPG verticals. Boone also coleads Google’s New York office, the second largest in the network, and was ranked #10 on Crain’s New York Business’s 2021 Power 25 list.

Prior to Google, Boone held senior positions with WPP, Publicis Worldwide and Bain & Company. He received a B.A. in economics (with honors) from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He serves on the board of Macy’s Inc. and is a member of the audit and nominating & governance committees. He also cochairs the Macy’s digital innovation advisory board, which focuses on next-generation digital transformation.

The digital transformation imperative. “Boards play a critical role in driving a forward-looking digital agenda that embraces an enterprise value chain perspective, enabled by data and advanced analytics. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning, along with the power of cloud-based solutions, allow complex organizations to see beyond lagging performance indicators to uncover predictive points of leverage — spanning R&D, supply chain, distribution, marketing and sales, servicing and sustainability. In an increasingly volatile economic and geopolitical context, boards must ensure the requisite investment in the foundations of digital maturity to drive sources of durable competitive advantage.”

 

Byron Scott

Director, Accuray Incorporated, Direct Relief, Rady Children’s Hospital — San Diego, Providence Health Plan
  
Byron Scott, M.D., has 25 years of experience as a physician executive in various sectors of the healthcare industry, with his last role at IBM Watson Health. He currently is a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Isenberg School of Management, and Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Population Health.

Scott serves on the compensation and science and technology committees of Accuray Incorporated. He serves as vice chair of the board for Direct Relief, board trustee for Rady Children’s Hospital — San Diego and the board of Providence Health Plan.

Scott received a B.S. from UCLA, an M.D. from the University of California San Diego and an M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has a cybersecurity oversight certification and is an NACD certified director.

Diverse ideas help create culture. “Leveraging a board’s collectively diverse background and ideas is critical to an organization’s success. Allowing diverse ideas in the boardroom allows the CEO and senior executives to gain access to diverse points of view, which helps the management team navigate risk as they implement strategy. Culture begins at the top, and a board with diverse points of view will foster an organizational culture of innovation and continuous improvement so it can better operate in times of disruption, which is the new norm.”
 

Mel Parker

Director, V2X

Mel Parker is an accomplished senior executive and an internationally recognized speaker, executive coach, leadership development facilitator and inspirational leader. With over 30 years of general management, strategy, operations, marketing and sales experience, he has successfully led global teams of more than 18,000 team members while delivering multibillions of dollars in annual revenue in the technology, energy, consumer products and financial services industries.

Parker serves on the boards of V2X (where he chairs the nomination and governance committee); Coinstar; and Team Red, White & Blue.

Parker is a West Point graduate with a degree in computer science. He served with distinction in the 82nd Airborne Division, graduating from airborne and ranger school, along with combat service during operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

An underrated superpower. “Intellectual curiosity, which is simply a person’s willingness to learn more and dig deeper than the surface, is often the most underrated superpower of a board director. As companies face a more volatile, uncertain, complex and chaotic world, an intellectually curious board can be a source of corporate resilience, strategic agility and innovative thinking. Ask more probing and insightful questions on how systems work, the actions leaders take and the underlying reasons behind decisions. Intellectual curiosity in the areas of strategy, leadership development, organizational culture and ESG initiatives will lead to materially better oversight, governance and stakeholder returns.”

Beverly Cole

Director, Bank OZK, Founders First Capital Partners

Beverly Cole serves on the enterprise, risk, and banking and loan committees of Bank OZK. She is a board member of Founders First Capital Partners, where she chairs the investment committee and sits on the audit committee. 

Walt Disney Company recruited Cole to lead its corporate-wide diversity and inclusion efforts. At Eastman Kodak, she managed real estate activities. Cole is the CEO of a multistate family commercial real estate company, Cole Renwick LLC, and was the largest quick-service restaurant franchisee in southern Florida. 

Cole is a member of the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco Economic Advisory Council and is a former state commissioner. She is certified by Stanford University’s Corporate Directors College and is a member of the NASDAQ Center for Board Excellence. 

Today’s boards must be proactive, not reactive. “Public and private board members must remain agile to respond to constant change, heightened stakeholder interest, geopolitical challenges, rising inflation, intense competition and workforce and digital disruptions. For corporations, it is no longer ‘business as usual.’ A sophisticated governance process and the inclusion of enterprise risk management (ERM) is being discussed and implemented by smart organizations. ERM is no longer just for publicly regulated industries. A robust ERM process is vital in supporting decision-making and board oversight. ERM provides tools and should be included in the culture to anticipate, identify and assess risks.”

 

Willard I. Hill Jr.

Director, PCSB Financial Corporation

Willard Hill Jr. serves on the board of PCSB Financial Corporation. He is a member of PCSB’s executive, audit and nominating/corporate governance committees and chair of the risk committee. Hill is secretary of the board of the Council for Economic Education. He previously served as vice chairman of Feeding Westchester.

Hill is a retired executive in the financial services industry with a record of strategic and operating leadership in highly regulated, global organizations. He leverages broad experience in retirement plans, insurance and banking. His expertise in marketing, communications and corporate philanthropy is built on a foundation of law and regulatory affairs, corporate governance and government relations. 

Hill earned an M.B.A. from University of Connecticut, a J.D. from Howard University School of Law and a B.A. from Fisk University.

Partnering on risk identification and mitigation. “An important board oversight responsibility is ensuring that there is an enterprise risk management partnership between directors and management that identifies, measures, monitors and mitigates risks. Once risks have been identified, they need to be assessed. Which risks are mission-critical? Thinking vertically and horizontally, what is the level of concentration, and are there correlation points? All directors should participate in the process of determining the company’s risk appetite — risks the company must take because they are an inherent part of the business. The ultimate question is whether the partnership supports competitiveness and prudent business operations without stifling growth and innovation.”

 

Mary Hogan Preusse

Director, Digital Realty Trust, Kimco Realty Corporation, Host Hotels and Resorts LP, Realty Income Corporation

Mary Hogan Preusse is chair of the board of Digital Realty Trust and the lead independent director of Kimco Realty Corporation. She serves on the boards of Host Hotels and Resorts LP and Realty Income Corporation. She is also a senior advisor to Fifth Wall, the venture capital firm. 

Hogan Preusse has spent her entire career investing in and analyzing the real estate investment trust industry. She has over 30 years of experience in real estate, investment management, leadership and strategy. Prior to her current work as board director and advisor, Hogan Preusse served as managing director and head of Americas listed real estate at APG Asset Management U.S. 
She graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in mathematics and is a member of the college’s board of trustees. 

Lobby for inclusivity at all levels. “As we navigate these challenging times, the need for experienced leaders in the boardroom has never been greater. Directors should make sure the investor perspective is prioritized and heard, and lobby for inclusive leadership at all levels. Board members should have a deep understanding of the company’s business, be in tune with the economic and operating environment, and be engaged and ready to provide advice and expertise when needed.”

 

Swati Abbott

Director, The Ensign Group Inc.

Swati Abbott is a corporate executive and board member with experience in management, strategy, product management, marketing and sales for the healthcare industry. Abbott is recognized for her domain knowledge in data and analytics along with industry leadership within the payer, provider and life sciences markets. Until recently, she was CEO of Blue Health Intelligence, the national data and analytics company for Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. 

Abbott’s strong corporate governance skill set is highlighted on the board of The Ensign Group Inc., where she serves on the audit committee, as well as the quality assurance & compliance committee. Previously, Abbott served on the board of Magellan Health Inc. She also serves on the board of a private company, Prognos Health.

Boards must have access to data. “Digital transformation, data privacy, appropriate use of AI and cybersecurity remain important themes for all boards. The need for data and analytics has never been more emphasized than with COVID. CEOs and boards were faced with a rapidly changing work environment. Having access to meaningful and timely data became critical. Even more critical was analyzing that data with minimal bias and ensuring that informed decisions were made at the board level. Having access to the right data, meaningful use of AI and other technologies, and ensuring that you protect your data, assets and customers from cybersecurity threats should be areas of critical focus for any board.”

 

Ertharin Cousin

Director, Bayer AG (supervisory board), Mondelēz International 

Ertharin Cousin serves as CEO and managing director of Food Systems for the Future, a nutrition impact investment fund. She is a distinguished fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Bosch Academy Robert Weizsäcker fellow, and a visiting scholar at the Stanford University Center on Food Security and the Environment. From 2012 to 2017, Cousin led the United Nations World Food Programme.
 
In 2009, Cousin was confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. Prior to her global hunger work, Cousin helped lead the U.S. domestic fight to end hunger.

Cousin is currently a member of the Bayer AG Supervisory Board, the Mondelēz International board and the Royal DSM sustainability board, and a trustee of the African agriculture think tank AKADEMIYA2063.

What’s not important today could be critical tomorrow. “The data suggests delivering shareholder value directly benefits from management prioritizing ESG, particularly the S: social. While not easy to identify, assess and manage, as a part of business operational strategy development, the E (environmental) and G (corporate governance) commitment definitely poses less challenge than the S component. Adequate board encouragement and oversight often provide the impetus and support management needs to prioritize stakeholders not historically recognized as strategically important.”

 

Stephanie Plaines

Director, Nielsen Holdings, The Clorox Company

Stephanie Plaines serves on the boards of Nielsen Holdings and The Clorox Company and brings global brand experience and financial acumen to the boardroom. She is also an independent director for KKR Acquisition Holdings.

She is executive vice president and chief financial officer of JCPenney Corporation and leads financial strategy, real estate, capital deployment, credit services, sourcing and procurement, treasury and accounting. Plaines was previously the CFO for Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services company, and held financial leadership positions with leading retailers, including Starbucks Coffee Company, Walmart and Ahold Delhaize. 

Plaines earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bring an activist mindset to the boardroom. “Directors must stay informed about their company’s strategy and how effectively it’s being executed. Thinking like a well-intentioned activist can enhance the durability of a company’s future. Board members should be asking the same tough questions that an activist investor would and fostering a strong long-term shareholder-value-creation lens. Consider an activist’s mindset proactively in reviewing a company’s annual strategy-refresh process, portfolio management and capital allocation. Board members would benefit to hear from outside experts, industry analysts, investment bankers or others from outside the company to get a better understanding of how the company is seen by investors.”

Susan R. Windham-Bannister

Director, Aridis Pharmaceuticals Inc., Histogen Inc., Humacyte Inc.

Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister is a recognized expert in innovation and market optimization. She serves on the boards of Aridis Pharmaceuticals Inc., Histogen Inc., Humacyte Inc. and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she leverages her expertise in growth strategies.
 
She is a past board chair of the Association for Women in Science and a prior director of Tufts Health Plan and Cambridge Bancorp. Biosphere cited Windham-Bannister among the “10 Most Prominent African American Science Leaders.” The Boston Globe named her among the “10 Most Influential Women in Biotech,” and Boston Magazine designated her as one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Boston.”
 
Windham-Bannister is CEO of Biomedical Growth Strategies LLC and past CEO of a $1 billion life sciences investment fund. She received a B.A. from Wellesley College and doctorates from Brandeis University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Moving DEI higher on the boardroom agenda. “In today’s innovation and knowledge economy, talent management is the key to growth and competitive success. Diverse and inclusive talent enhances creativity, generates novel insights and perspectives, enables access to new markets and leads to better decision-making, problem-solving and overall business performance. Directors as leaders have an extremely gratifying and ongoing opportunity to contribute to the growing recognition that there is a business case for DEI and to actively participate in its impact on governance. DEI needs to have parity with other issues that directly impact the bottom line and are closely monitored in the boardroom.”

 

Abha Kumar

Director, Vahanna Tech Edge Acquisition I Corp., Bynry, Notify.io

Abha Kumar is a board member, an advisory board member, a business strategist, a transformational leader and a former CIO. A well-respected global digital change leader, she leverages innovative technologies, envisions the future state of an organization and advises on collaboratively evolving operating norms and talent strategy. 

At the board level, Kumar helps drives strategy and growth, evaluates opportunities and risks, and advises on major investments in technology, business transformation and talent.  She received the American Business Association’s Gold Stevie award as a “Visionary for Creating Ecosystems of Tomorrow.”

Kumar is a board member at Vahanna Tech Edge Acquisition I Corp., Bynry and Notify.io, and an advisory board member at Shopelier and Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project. She served as CIO at Vanguard and held senior leadership positions at Dow Jones and The New York Times. 

Digital and other disruptions. “Organizations face unprecedented challenges due to global disruptions, enhanced competition and digital transformation. Firms must enhance flexibility and resilience to compete in the emerging era. Firms must also develop an internal focus on digital transformation, emerging customer and media relations, and talent management for developing a flexible workforce. These three areas will require a well-thought-out, dynamic strategy and input from experts, including the board. With so many factors redefining business models, experienced and motivated board directors are needed to propel the board to consider these areas of focus and drive value for the business.”

 

Nichelle Maynard-Elliott

Director, Xerox Corporation, Lucid Group Inc., Element Solutions Inc.

Nichelle Maynard-Elliott is an accomplished dealmaker and advisor to boards and senior management with over 25 years of financial and legal experience in M&A, business development and strategic alliances. Maynard-Elliott is the former head of M&A, Americas and Asia Pacific, for Praxair Inc. (now Linde plc), where she evaluated and negotiated global acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures and other business combinations. In 2020, she was named to Transaction Advisors’ M&A Leadership Council.

Maynard-Elliott is a director of Xerox Corporation, Lucid Group Inc. and Element Solutions Inc., and a trustee of The Advisors’ Inner Circle Fund III and its affiliated funds.  

Maynard-Elliott holds a B.A. in economics from Brown University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Purposeful succession planning is essential for maintaining effective governance. “Beyond an actionable succession plan for the CEO role, boards must engage best-in-class board refreshment activities. Good governance mandates transitions of power that protect business success, avoid risk and maintain strategic objectives. To do so, nominating/governance committees should identify and track director competencies, determine the skills necessary to advance future growth, plan ahead for departures and retirements, and consider board expansion, where appropriate, to capture and build new competencies. Boards must simultaneously ensure diversity of thought, experience and representative inclusion. Intentionally cultivate your board for long-term success.”

 

Renee Richard

Director, AES Management Corporation

Renee Tramble Richard, an independent director, serves on the board of AES Management Corporation, a family-owned business and franchisee of a chain of retail restaurants, operating as Louisiana’s Popeye’s Chicken. Her career includes more than three decades of finance and legal expertise.

Most recently, Richard was appointed as interim president of Corporate College, a division of Cuyahoga Community College, where she leads the for-profit division in corporate training, professional development, health care training, and entrepreneurial incubation and development. Richard also serves as the vice president of legal services and risk management at Cuyahoga Community College. 

Richard holds a J.D. from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, an M.B.A. in executive management from Cleveland State University and a B.B.A. in accounting from Kent State University. She is also a licensed CPA (inactive).

Reflecting the values, goals and mission. “In this evolving corporate environment, it is imperative that corporate governance reflect the mission, values and goals of the institution and its stakeholders. Opportunities and challenges must be balanced to achieve the foundational principles of accountability, transparency, responsibility, risk management and fairness, while simultaneously addressing modern-day trends of digital transformation, technology advancement and social justice requirements. Communication between the CEO and the board is imperative to provide strategic alignment of corporate philosophy with goals and tactics in order to provide excellence in customer service, human capital needs, supply chain disruptions, diversity and inclusion, and investor relations.”

Mary Smith

Director, PTC Therapeutics

Mary Smith is an independent board member and former C-suite executive. Smith serves on the board of PTC Therapeutics on the audit and compensation committees. Her background includes experience in governance, technology, compliance, government, regulatory affairs and public policy.  

Previously, Smith was CEO of the Indian Health Service, a $6 billion national healthcare system that serves over 2 million people. She oversaw the development of an operational framework that utilized data analytics to improve services, allocate resources and develop the workforce.

Smith has served at the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice. She is Native American and a member of the Cherokee Nation. She holds a B.S. in mathematics and computer science from Loyola University Chicago and a J.D. from The University of Chicago.

Communication, civility and trust. “In this age of disruption and emerging risks, there are seemingly more challenges for boards. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, companies are faced with climate events, regulatory challenges, inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and workforce and talent challenges. While no director can be an expert in all these areas, directors need to be lifelong learners infused with curiosity and the ability to ask the right questions. Communication, civility and trust are also key among board members and with management. A diversity of views and experiences makes for a better board and better decisions, and is essential to fulfill oversight responsibilities.”

Paula Boggs

Director, Avid Technology Inc.

Paula Boggs is founder of Boggs Media LLC, a business managing her creative activities. She sits on the Avid Technology Inc. board and chairs its nominating & governance committee.  

In 2021, Savoy named her to its list of “Most Influential Black Corporate Directors.” Since 2000, Boggs has served boards spanning many industries. Boggs is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law and Johns Hopkins University. Her career started at the Pentagon and the White House. For a decade, Boggs was Starbucks Corporation’s top lawyer. In 2009, NASDAQ named her its top general counsel.
 
Boggs now gives speeches and tours extensively with Paula Boggs Band. President Obama appointed her to his President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and she is a voting member governor of Recording Academy’s Pacific Northwest chapter.

Board service is a team sport. “Serving on a board is a team sport, no less than basketball. A highly functioning board requires mission and community. No single member should stand out beyond serving the board’s fiduciary responsibilities. Like a team, board members bring different skill sets and life experience. There may be gender, racial, cultural, and generational diversity. Some are industry experts. Others may know nothing about a specific industry but nonetheless add tremendous value. Most board meetings are time-constrained, so board etiquette — reading ahead, reading the room and avoiding ‘gotcha’ moments — leads to a well-functioning and ‘winning’ team grounded in performance excellence.”

 

Matthew Carter Jr.

Director, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., NRG Energy Inc.

Matthew Carter Jr. is the chief executive officer of Aryaka, headquartered in San Mateo, Calif. He leads long-term market strategy and day-to-day operations while guiding the company’s vision for an increasingly connected world.
 
Prior to Aryaka, Carter served as president and CEO of Inteliquent, a publicly traded provider of cloud-based networking services for global enterprises. He previously held a series of executive positions with Sprint Corporation, including serving as president of Sprint enterprise solutions and president of Boost Mobile. 

Carter commits his time to causes that he is passionate about, including social and racial justice, climate change and gender equality.
Carter earned his master’s degree in general management from Harvard Business School. 

Embrace uncertainty as a stepping stone to clarity. “Business leaders are faced with more complex and nuanced challenges than ever before. Board members need to filter through these issues with an understanding of the ambiguity that there is not always a clear answer. Good governance is sometimes recognizing that uncertainty is part of our mandate. One way for boards to address these aspects of uncertainty is to ensure a diversity of opinions are represented. How one board member views uncertainty can be completely different, but helpful and additive, to other board members’ thinking. We all bring something unique to the discussion.”

 

Maria Rivas

Director, The Cooper Companies Inc.

Dr. Maria Rivas is a senior biotechnology executive, an experienced public corporate board director and a Columbia University-trained physician. 

At S&P 100 companies like Lilly, AbbVie and Merck & Co. Inc., she has contributed to the development, launch and market success of multiple pharmaceutical products throughout their life cycle. Rivas has successfully led the digital transformation of global teams in over 90 countries and a number of crisis and risk management activities in highly regulated industries.
 
She is the chief medical officer at the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Rivas serves on the board of The Cooper Companies Inc., a public large-cap medical device company, and was a board director at Medidata, a public mid-cap health technology company, until its successful sale to Dassault Systèmes.

Periodic evaluations support board diversity. “Transparent communication between management and the board and among board members is essential to navigate market, economic and other environmental challenges. This is foundational for management and the board to evaluate new business opportunities and risks, and is particularly tested during moments of crisis like the COVID pandemic. Diversity of thought and skills should be proactively sought out by both board and management, and encouraged — even incentivized — across the employee base to ensure opportunities and risks are addressed promptly. The board should conduct periodic evaluations to systematically address its set of skills and ensure its roster is diverse enough to include a variety of perspectives and styles.”

 

Louis Carr

Director, Cedar Fair LP

Louis Carr is a director and serves on the nominating and governance and compensation committees for Cedar Fair LP. 

Carr has been with BET Networks for 35 years, serving as president of media sales for the last two decades. Through strategic partnerships with corporations like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, McDonald’s, General Motors, Facebook, Apple Inc. and many more, he has been a consultant on opportunities that exist within Black and Brown communities. 

Carr has made BET Networks the number one brand and choice for Black consumers through his deep understanding of linear TV, digital and social platforms. Carr’s mantra, “Be led by data and insights,” has made BET the largest repository of information on Black consumers among media companies worldwide. 

Corporate compliance on par with financial understanding. “In today’s world, ESG and DEI have taken center stage. No longer can corporations be an island, as consumers and government regulators are demanding more accountability on how companies engage and support their communities, employees and local environments. Board directors have an obligation to establish and support compliance programs demonstrating that the companies and their executives understand how governance goals and objectives will be achieved and sustained over extended periods of time. It is a necessary skill. The skill set of assessing corporate compliance and risks is just as important as financial understanding in today’s boardroom.”  

Scott Chase manages the nomination and selection process for Directors to Watch.

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