TIAA — Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America — has announced that Thasunda Brown Duckett will become the company’s new CEO, succeeding Roger W. Ferguson Jr. who announced in November 2020 his plans to retire. With her appointment, Duckett will join newly named Walgreen’s CEO Rosalind Brewer as one of only two Black women heading Fortune 500 companies. TIAA ranked No. 9 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.
Duckett will join TIAA on May 1 from JPMorgan Chase, where she was CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, leading a “banking network with more than $600 billion in deposits, 4,900 branches and over 40,000 employees.” In that role, “she undertook Chase’s first major branch expansion in 10 years to add 400 new branches in 20 new markets over five years” — a strategy that is said to have reflected “her commitment to improving the lives of individual customers and local communities by providing more jobs, neighborhood resources and access to financial services.”
In announcing her appointment, TIAA celebrated her successful career and also paid special attention to Duckett’s longtime support of diversity and inclusion efforts.
“Ms. Duckett has been a tireless and purpose-driven champion for change,” TIAA said in a press release announcing her appointment. “She was the executive sponsor of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways program, an initiative aimed at helping Black Americans close historical achievement gaps in wealth creation, educational outcomes and career success. Ms. Duckett also sat on the steering committee for the bank’s Women on the Move initiative to help women advance their career and business opportunities, and she is committed to financial education for women, who account for a significant portion of the retirement investments TIAA stewards. Most recently, Ms. Duckett led Chase’s accelerated focus on communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and was the executive sponsor of the bank’s Fellowship Initiative, which offers young men of color academic and social support to help them achieve personal and professional success.”
Justin Baer of The Wall Street Journal wrote that Duckett “is leaving consumer-banking for a part of the financial world that is confronting many of the same challenges, albeit at a different stage. Technology and evolving customer tastes have driven down the costs of investing, squeezing money managers’ margins and forcing firms to consider mergers that give them the scale to compete.”
“Thasunda is widely recognized as an exceptionally dynamic and inspirational leader,” said Ronald L. Thompson, Chairman of the TIAA Board of Trustees. “She brings invaluable experience leading and growing large, complex businesses, setting and executing strategy, improving client experience and attracting and developing talent. Equally important, she is deeply mission-oriented, with values that reflect those of TIAA, including a passion for financial inclusion and empowerment.”
Following the announcement, Duckett reflected on her past and how it will guide her future, issuing a statement saying “I often think about the day my father asked me to help him plan his retirement, and I had to tell him, ‘Dad, your pension is not enough. Now, thanks to his work and sacrifices and the support of many others who have guided me throughout my life and career, I am blessed to join TIAA, which has paid out over $500 billion of lifetime income and other benefits since its founding in 1918. I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to lead a company that has helped millions of people retire with ‘enough’ to live in dignity and excited about the opportunity to help TIAA chart its next 100 years.”