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Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of TIAA, Announced as 156th Commencement Speaker

Howard University recognizes Thasunda Brown Duckett as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2024 ceremony.

Image of Thasunda Brown Duckett. (Photo courtesy of Howard University)

Howard University announced Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and chief executive officer of retirement insurance company Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA ), as the 156th Commencement Convocation keynote speaker.

Duckett will speak at the Capital One Arena, located at 601 F St. NW, on May 11 to the class of 2024, one of Howard’s largest graduating classes, according to the university

President Ben Vinson III shared his excitement about announcing Duckett as the keynote speaker in a press release.

“Throughout her illustrious career, Mrs. Duckett has demonstrated exemplary leadership and a relentless pursuit of excellence,” he said. “Her presence and words at our Commencement Convocation will undoubtedly inspire our graduates.” 

After stepping into her position in 2021 for the TIAA, Duckett joined the small percentage of Black women CEOs of a Fortune 500 company. 

Duckett is currently one of only two Black women CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, according to CNBC. Toni Townes-Whitley, CEO of Science Applications International Corp., shares the spot with her. 

While CEO of TIAA, Duckett focuses on improving retirement outcomes for those in marginalized communities within financial institutions, working towards closing the racial and gender retirement gaps, according to CNBC. 

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Before her current position, Duckett held various other executive positions throughout her 17-year career at JP Morgan Chase, including CEO of the Consumer Bank and Auto Finance. 

Duckett is also an appointee of President Joe Biden’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which gives insight to the Secretary of Education on increasing “the private sector role in strengthening HBCUs, with particular emphasis on enhancing institutional infrastructure and facilitating planning, development and the use of new technologies to ensure the goal of long-term viability and enhancement of these institutions,” according to the US Department of Education.

Vinson emphasized this position of Duckett’s within the press release.

“Mrs. Duckett understands the importance of institutions like Howard University in shaping future leaders and fostering inclusive communities,” he said. “Mrs. Duckett’s remarkable achievements, commitment to financial inclusion and dedication to empowering communities align seamlessly with the values and mission of Howard University.” 

Duckett serves on numerous boards, including NIKE, Inc., Brex Inc., Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Dean’s Advisory Board for Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business and others. She is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council CEO Advisory Board, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. 

Originally from Rochester, New York, Duckett was raised in Texas and attended the University of Houston, where she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Marketing. She also received her MBA from Baylor University and lives in Connecticut with her family. 

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Copy edited by Jalyn Lovelady

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