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Associated Press

Cathleen Black, New York City Schools Chancellor

November 09, 2010
by Colleen Brondou
As the president of Hearst Magazines, Cathie Black was instrumental in the development and branding of popular magazines as Esquire, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan. After a successful career in the private sector, Black will face new challenges as the chancellor of the New York City public school system.

Black Appointed Chancellor

Hearst Magazines chairman and former president Cathie Black was named chancellor of the New York City Department of Education on Tuesday. Though she has no experience in education or government, Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes that her success in the private sector shows that she can handle the job.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Bloomberg praised Black as a “superstar manager” who is “brilliant, innovative and driven.” “There is no one who knows more about the skills our children will need to succeed in the 21st century economy,” he said.

Cathleen Black’s Early Days

Cathleen Black was born on April 26, 1944, in Chicago, Ill., where she “grew up surrounded by arts and culture,” according to Jeanette Bogren in the International Directory of Business Biographies. At an early age, she read the newspaper and discussed current events with her parents.

After graduating in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in English from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., she moved to New York City and landed a job selling advertising for magazines. In 1972, she was made advertising manager at Ms. magazine.

Even though the feminism movement was just gaining momentum, Black “managed to convince clients that women who were entering the workplace would represent an economically sound subset of the population that would respond to their ads,” writes Bogren. She was right, and was named associate publisher at Ms. in 1975.

Black’s Career in Publishing

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch soon took notice of Black's accomplishments at Ms. and asked her to join New York magazine. After just two years, she was named publisher of New York in 1979, making her the first woman publisher of a weekly American consumer magazine.

In 1984, Black moved to USA Today, where she served first as president and then as publisher, helping to make it most widely read newspaper in the country. Later, she served as executive vice president/marketing of Gannett, USA Today's parent company, and served on Gannett's board of directors.

In 1991, Black was made president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, the largest trade group in the newspaper industry. Frank Bennack Jr., Hearst president and CEO, was impressed with Black's success and recruited her to join Hearst as president of its magazine division.

As the first female president of Hearst, she improved ad sales, and growth in licensing and international distribution, earning Black the nickname of “The First Lady of American Magazines.”

In 2006, Black earned a place on Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women.” for her ability to expand Hearst’s publications at a time when print media was struggling. She has also been named one of Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women, ranking 67th in 2010.

Interviews With Cathie Black

Black discussed the challenges she has faced in her career in a 1997 interview with Charlie Rose.

Black appeared at the NYU Stern School of Business in 2007 along with Estee Lauder CEO William P. Lauder to conduct an interview for PBS’ “CEO Exchange,” which also produced a video profile of Black.

Further Reading

Black is profiled in the 2002 book “How Jane Won: 55 Successful Women Share How They Grew from Ordinary Girls to Extraordinary Women” a great source for learning about women who have succeeded in business.

Black’s best-selling 2008 book “Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)” is a career guide full of advice on “how to handle interviews, which rules to break, and why you should make your life a grudge-free zone,” says Random House, the book’s publisher.

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