Museum News

National Museum of African American History and Culture Names Kenneth I. Chenault Chairman of its Advisory Council

February 6, 2017
Portrait photo of Ken Chenault

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) today announced that Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express Company, was elected chair of the museum’s Advisory Council. The Council supports the NMAAHC’s planning, operation and fundraising. Mr. Chenault, a member of the Council since 2007, chaired the museum’s capital campaign.

Chenault will work closely with NMAAHC’s Founding Director Lonnie Bunch and members of the Council. The 400,000-square-foot museum opened in Sept. 2016 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is the 19th member of the Smithsonian Institution.

“Ken is a trailblazer,” said NMAAHC Founding Director Lonnie Bunch. “We are fortunate to have his experience and commitment as we solidify the museum’s place in America’s cultural landscape.” 

 “I’m honored to be elected chair of the museum’s Advisory Council,” said Mr. Chenault. “This is a museum for all Americans through the lens of African Americans.  The museum speaks of hope, struggles and dreams, and it serves as an important vehicle for all Americans to come together and appreciate our rich heritage.  I look forward to working with Lonnie, the Advisory Council and the museum’s staff in this new role.”
Mr. Chenault has been chairman and CEO of American Express Company since 2001.  He joined the company in 1981 as director of strategic planning and served subsequently in a number of increasingly senior positions, including vice chairman, president and chief operating officer, until his appointment as CEO.

Mr. Chenault serves on the boards of IBM, The Proctor & Gamble Company, the Harvard Corporation and numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, and the Bloomberg Family Foundation.  He is also is a member of the Business Council and serves on the Executive Committee of the Business Roundtable as well as the Partnership for New York.  Mr. Chenault holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA in history from Bowdoin College.  
Linda Johnson Rice, chair of Johnson Publishing Company, and Richard D. Parsons, CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise, are the immediate past co-chairs and continue to serve on the Council. 

“Linda Johnson Rice and Richard D. Parsons are truly a one-of-kind pair,” said Lonnie Bunch.  “I can’t thank them enough for their successes while heading the Advisory Council and their enthusiastic leadership through some of our most triumphant moments.”

The museum also announces the election of three vice chairs to committees of the Council: N. Anthony Coles, chairman and CEO, Yumanity Therapeutics, will serve as the vice chair of advancement. Franklin D. Raines, retired chairman and CEO, Fannie Mae, will serve as the vice chair of finance. Patty Q. Stonesifer, president and CEO, Martha’s Table, will serve as the vice chair of nominating and governance.

The Council includes leaders from business, higher education and the arts and are as follows:

  • Willie L. Brown, Jr., former mayor of San Francisco
  • Laura W. Bush, former first lady of the United States of America
  • James Cash, Jr., PhD, James E. Robison professor and senior associate dean, emeritus, Harvard Business School
  • N. Anthony Coles, chairman and CEO, Yumanity Therapeutics
  • Brian C. Cornell, chairman and CEO, Target Corporation
  • Ann Marie Fudge, retired chairman and CEO, Young & Rubicam Inc.
  • Allan C. Golston, president, U.S. Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • LaTanya R. Jackson, actor, director, and producer
  • James A. Johnson, chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
  • Linda Johnson Rice, chairman, Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., publisher, Ebony and Jet magazines
  • Robert L. Johnson, chairman and CEO, The RLJ Companies, founder, Black Entertainment Television, Inc.
  • Quincy D. Jones, producer and CEO, Quincy Jones Productions, Inc.
  • Ann Dibble Jordan, retired, University of Chicago School of Social Work, retired, corporate director
  • Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, United Negro College Fund and former president, Dillard University
  • Doris Matsui, member, United States House of Representatives
  • Brian T. Moynihan, chairman and CEO, Bank of America
  • Homer Alfred Neal, director, University of Michigan ATLAS Project, Samuel A. Goudsmit professor of physics, interim president emeritus, University of Michigan
  • E. Stanley O’Neal, former chairman, CEO, and president, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
  • Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, The Center for Global Enterprise, retired chairman and CEO, International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation
  • Richard Dean Parsons, senior advisor, Providence Equity
  • General Colin L. Powell, former secretary of state, United States of America
  • Franklin D. Raines, retired chairman and CEO, Fannie Mae, former director, U.S. Office of Management and Budget
  • Ruth J. Simmons, president emerita, Brown University
  • David J. Skorton, MD, secretary, Smithsonian Institution
  • Earl W. Stafford, CEO, The Wentworth Group, LLC
  • Patty Q. Stonesifer, president and CEO, Martha’s Table
  • H. Patrick Swygert, president emeritus, Howard University
  • Anthony Welters, executive vice president, UnitedHealth Group
  • Oprah Winfrey, chairman and CEO, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo, Inc.
  • Robert L. Wright, chairman emeritus, SENTEL Corporation
Media Contact(s): 

Shrita Hernandez (202) 633-5089;
Fleur Paysour (202) 633-4761;

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About The Museum

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.