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Outgoing American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault Becomes Facebook's First Black Board Member

Outgoing American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault Becomes Facebook's First Black Board Member

Photo credit: Buck Ennis

Facebook is diversifying its board of directors with the recently announced addition of American Express CEO Kenneth Irvine Chenault.

Chenault, who is the first African American to join the social media site's board, is one of the most prominent Black business leaders of today.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the appointment via Facebook on Thursday and spoke about his admiration for Chenault’s leadership.

"I've been trying to recruit Ken for years,” Zuckerberg wrote. "He has unique expertise in areas I believe Facebook needs to learn and improve – customer service, direct commerce, and building a trusted brand. Ken also has a strong sense of social mission and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades."

Chenault, who is just one of four African Americans leading a Fortune 500 company, announced in October that he will be retiring as the CEO of American Express on Feb. 1 after 16 years. His tenure with the company makes him one of the longest-serving Black leaders of a major U.S. corporation.

USA Today reports that in October, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told the Congressional Black Caucus that the social media giant was looking to add their first Black director to its board soon, but did not disclose a name.

Following Zuckerberg’s announcement, Chenault commented on the CEO’s status and expressed his excitement for joining the team.

"I have enjoyed our conversations over the years," Chenault wrote. "I'm excited about working with you, the board and the team to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives."

With Chenault's retirement approaching, there will be just three Black CEOs left at Fortune 500 companies. They include Merck & Co. CEO Kenneth Frazier, TIAA CEO Roger W. Ferguson Jr., and J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellis.