The Top Women CEOs In America
Authors: Alyssa Evans, Aine Givens
Democracy dies in darkness. In 2017, those words became the first slogan for the Washington Post, the American newspaper that made history in 1972 by becoming the first Fortune 500 company to name Katharine Graham as its first woman CEO. Daughter of the Post publisher Eugene Meyer, Graham had been foisted into the unlikely leadership position of president and publisher after the former CEO—her husband, Philip Graham—died in 1963.
Graham was reportedly tongue-tied when the idea of taking over the Post was first suggested to her. However, it must have been a momentary uncertainty as she led the Post for more than two decades, a tenure that included presiding over the Watergate scandal—one of the most significant moments in journalistic history.
There have been relatively few women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies since; evidence of numerous factors that keep women from breaking through corporate culture’s glass ceiling. Undeniable, however, is the path of leadership, progress, and resolve each woman who has become a CEO has shown.
In 2022, women hold the top title at a record 46 companies among the Fortune 500, which ranks the U.S. companies with the highest revenues. Still, women head fewer than 10% of the nation’s leading companies.
And yet that’s nearly double the global level. Of Fortune’s Global 500 companies, women head just 24, or 4.8%.
Stacker looked at all the women CEOs of the 2022 Fortune 500 companies. Although Fortune’s entire 2022 report looks at 1,000 companies, which features 83 women CEOs, this list only highlights the 46 who appeared on the Fortune 500. From giants like Best Buy, Rite Aid, and Kohl’s to the most influential defense, insurance, and financial companies, more powerful corporations are being headed by the most powerful women.
Here are the top 46 women who have made the list.
You may also like: 50 women who broke barriers in the business world
#46. Barbara Smith
– Company: Commercial Metals
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #484
Barbara Smith, chair, president, and CEO, joined Commercial Metals Co., a manufacturer and recycler of steel and metal, as a senior vice president and chief financial officer in 2011. Her toughest challenge, she told D Magazine in 2018, was financier Carl Icahn’s attempted hostile takeover of the company. Before moving to Commercial Metals, the Purdue University graduate worked at Gerdau Ameristeel, FARO Technologies, and Alcoa Inc., where she taught herself to program in Cobol.
#45. Linda Rendle
– Company: Clorox
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #459
Linda Rendle became the CEO of Clorox in 2020 after nearly 20 years with the company. She previously worked for the Procter & Gamble Company and started at Clorox as a senior sales analyst in its charcoal and insecticides businesses. Rendle, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University, describes herself as an introvert who did not envision herself as a CEO early in her career but rose to meet the demands of the position during the coronavirus pandemic when the company’s disinfectant products were in high demand.
#44. Nazzic Keene
– Company: Science Applications International
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #456
Nazzic Keene was named Science Applications International’s CEO in 2019. She joined the company in 2012 and held several executive positions, including chief operating officer, before assuming the top spot. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she has 30 years of experience in the information systems and technology services industries.
#43. Sheryl Palmer
– Company: Taylor Morrison Home
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #453
A leader in land acquisition, sales and marketing, development, and operations management, Sheryl Palmer is chair and CEO of Taylor Morrison, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based homebuilder and developer. Palmer, who survived a brain tumor, has more than 30 years of experience. The company has become the country’s fifth-largest home builder through mergers and acquisitions. Early in her career, while working at McDonald’s, she learned about marketing and customer service from the company’s founder, Ray Kroc.
#42. Reshma Kewalramani
– Company: Vertex Pharmaceuticals
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #448
Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., who joined Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 2017 as chief medical officer and executive vice president of global medicines development and medical affairs, was appointed CEO and president in 2020. That same year, Business Insider named her as one of 10 people transforming health care. She has spent the past 15 years developing new medicines that could potentially change people’s lives. A graduate of the present Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, she completed the general management program at Harvard Business School.
#41. Kristin Peck
– Company: Zoetis
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #440
Kristin Peck became the newest CEO of global animal health provider Zoetis in January 2020. Before joining Zoetis in 2012, Peck served as the executive vice president of worldwide business development and innovation at Pfizer, where part of her scope involved strategizing the company’s animal health business. Peck had been executive vice president and group president of U.S. operations at Zoetis and received praise for her data-driven approach to market strategy and business development.
#40. Sarah Nash
– Company: Bath & Body Works
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #435
Sarah Nash is the interim CEO of Bath & Body Works and has been the company’s executive chair since February 2022. Nash worked for nearly 30 years in investment banking at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its predecessor companies and retired as vice chair of global investment banking in July 2005. Nash has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Vassar College.
#39. Laura Alber
– Company: Williams-Sonoma
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #420
Laura Alber took over the specialty home retailer Williams-Sonoma in 2010 after starting there in 1995 as a Pottery Barn senior buyer. In 2006, the University of Pennsylvania graduate became president of Williams-Sonoma; four years later, she replaced former CEO W. Howard Lester, becoming one of the highest-paid women in American business. Alber has brought a unique approach to business, which she called a “willingness to blend art with science, ideas with data, and instinct with analysis.”
#38. Jennifer M. Johnson
– Company: Franklin Resources
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #411
Before becoming president and CEO at Franklin Resources Inc., Jennifer Johnson had managed all aspects of the global investment organization, including investment management, customer service, fund administration, and global technology. She joined the company in 1988 and took over the top spot in 2020. During her tenure, she was part of several key acquisitions and the development of Franklin Templeton’s exchange-traded fund business.
#37. Lori Ryerkerk
– Company: Celanese
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #406
Celanese Corp., a chemical and advanced materials producer, named Lori Ryerkerk as CEO in 2019, culminating a 35-year career in the petrochemicals and refinery industry. After more than 20 years at ExxonMobil, Ryerkerk has served as executive vice president of global manufacturing at Royal Dutch Shell since 2010. The chemical engineering graduate of Iowa State University is known for her global leadership skills.
#36. Kathleen Mazzarella
– Company: Graybar Electric
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #399
Kathleen Mazzarella was named president and CEO at Graybar Electric in 2012. In her own words, her career path has allowed her to learn Graybar’s business from the bottom up. She joined the company in 1980 at age 19 as a customer service representative. Throughout her career, she’s held numerous company positions, from managing strategic accounts and planning to working in human resources, sales, and marketing. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral sciences and a master’s degree in business administration.
#35. Laura Prieskorn
– Company: Jackson Financial
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #395
A 30-year veteran of Jackson Financial, Laura Prieskorn has served as a leader in the company’s executive, investment, and product areas. In 2021, she was named CEO of the company, which sells annuities for retirement. “It is a huge privilege to become CEO of an enterprise which I have helped to grow from a modest regional firm to what it is today, an admired leader in the American annuities market,” the graduate of Central Michigan University said in a press release at the time.
#34. Mary Dillon
– Company: Foot Locker
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #390
Mary Dillon became CEO of Foot Locker in September 2022. She moved to the company from Ulta Beauty, where she had worked since 2013 as the executive chair and CEO. Previously, she’d been CEO of U.S. Cellular. Fortune has called Ulta Beauty the “fastest-growing cosmetics empire”; earlier in 2019, Dillon announced her intentions to make the company a global brand, beginning with operations in Canada. Besides being known as one of the best CEOs and most powerful women, the University of Illinois Chicago graduate has also won awards for her philanthropic work.
#33. Michele Buck
– Company: Hershey Company
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #388
As traditionally large food companies are inundated with competition from smaller food startups, appointing a CEO who can steer the company into trends that compete with niche markets is vital. Michele Buck had experience spearheading some notable strategies at Kraft/Nabisco and the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo before being appointed the first female CEO in the history of the Hershey Company in 2017, a company she joined in 2005.
#32. Sue Gove
– Company: Bed Bath & Beyond
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #381
The ailing home goods store named Sue Gove, who has been an independent director of Bed Bath & Beyond since 2019, as interim CEO in June 2022 in an attempt to turn around declining sales and problems with supply chain and inventory. The company announced in September 2022 its plans to close more than 150 stores, lay off employees, and has received $500 million in new financing. Gove, who has more than 30 years of experience in the retail industry and is the president of Excelsior Advisors, a retail consulting and advisory firm, called for “careful management of costs, greater supply chain reliability, prudent capital spending, a stronger balance sheet, and robust digital capabilities.”
#31. Joyce Mullen
– Company: Insight Enterprises
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #373
Joyce Mullen, named CEO of Insight Enterprises in January 2022, was responsible for rising sales after joining the global technology company as president of North America operations in October 2020. Net sales in North America increased 14% to $7.5 billion in 2021, even during a global pandemic and volatile market. Mullen moved to Insight Technologies after 21 years at Dell Technologies and nine years at Cummins Inc. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s in international relations from Brown University.
#30. Joey Wat
– Company: Yum China Holdings
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #359
Joey Wat reached the Fortune 500 in 2019, one year after becoming Yum China’s CEO. The Hong Kong native earned her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management before beginning her career as a consultant. She became CEO of KFC China in 2015 and chief operating officer of Yum China thereafter. The current head of the fast-food holding company is one of China’s most powerful business leaders and one of the most influential women in global business.
#29. Teresa Rasmussen
– Company: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #351
Named Thrivent Financial’s CEO in October 2018, Teresa Rasmussen was the first woman to hold that role in the company’s history after 13 years as general counsel, secretary, and senior vice president. Before finance, Rasmussen served as a Department of Justice trial attorney and is respected for her acumen in both the legal and business spheres.
#28. Lauren Hobart
– Company: Dick’s Sporting Goods
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #307
Lauren Hobart is only the third CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, following father-son partners Dick and Ed Stack, the company’s founders. She joined Dick’s in 2011 as senior vice president and chief marketing officer and has driven the company’s technology and e-commerce strategies. Earlier, she worked at PepsiCo, Wells Fargo Bank, and JP Morgan Chase & Co. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
After the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Dick’s stopped selling guns to customers younger than 21 and removed assault rifles and high-capacity magazines from its stores.
#27. Penny Pennington
– Company: Jones Financial (Edward Jones)
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #303
Penny Pennington began as a financial advisor for Edward Jones in 2000 and, by 2006, started to hold leadership roles. She is currently the only woman who runs a major U.S. brokerage after being named managing partner—just the sixth ever in the firm’s history—and CEO in January 2019. Besides her renowned leadership and financial genius, Pennington is a senior executive sponsor of Jones’ LGBT+ and Allies Business Resource Group.
#26. Judy Marks
– Company: Otis Worldwide
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #254
The fabled manufacturer of elevators and escalators named Judy Marks president in 2017, and she became CEO in 2019. She led Otis to a spot as an independent publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange and is now in charge of its digital and cultural transformation. Marks, who has a degree in electrical engineering from Lehigh University, previously held leadership positions at IBM, Lockheed Martin, and Siemens AG.
#25. Beth Ford
– Company: Land O’Lakes
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #232
Beth Ford was named CEO of Land O’Lakes in August 2018, becoming the first openly gay woman to head a Fortune 500 company. Although the Minnesota-based food and agriculture company acknowledged the milestone, it highlighted the choice of “the person they felt best met the criteria to drive success,” as Ford proved her enormous value as chief operating officer and executive vice president. Deena Fidas, director of workplace equality at the Human Rights Campaign, noted, “This is not a story of someone getting into the higher echelons of leadership and then coming out, this is someone walking into this role with her full self.”
#24. Lisa Su
– Company: Advanced Micro Devices
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #226
Lisa Su is a Taiwanese American executive who became the semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices CEO in 2014, two years after joining the company. Previously she served as chief operating officer and senior vice president of AMD’s global business units. With bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Su is known for her work on silicon technology for IBM. She is a widely recognized national and international name in the business world.
#23. Anna Manning
– Company: Reinsurance Group of America
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #222
Not on the 2016 list, Anna Manning drove the Reinsurance Group of America to the 2017 Fortune 500 list after assuming CEO in January 2017. Her appointment led to one of the company’s most successful years, growing revenue by almost 11% from 2016 to 2017. From early 2021 to early 2022, revenues grew 14%. A graduate of the University of Toronto with a degree in actuarial science, Manning joined RGA in 2007 after 19 years with Towers Perrin.
#22. Barbara Rentler
– Company: Ross Stores
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #189
The struggles retailers are facing across the United States are notorious, and yet, Ross Stores keeps reporting solid earnings, with early 2022 revenues growing 50%. Barbara Rentler, who has been with the company since 1986, is undoubtedly to thank. She used her leadership skills to move up the ranks, becoming senior vice president and merchandising manager for Ross Dress for Less in 2001 and was named CEO in 2014. In 2019, she appeared on Forbes’ America’s Most Innovative Leaders list—the only woman among 100 individuals on the list.
#21. Ellen Cooper
– Company: Lincoln National
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #187
Ellen Cooper joined Lincoln National in 2012 and helped to develop investment strategy, overseeing more than $300 billion in assets. Before becoming CEO in 2022, she was executive vice president, chief investment officer, and head of enterprise risk and annuity solutions. She previously worked at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, serving as managing director and global head of insurance strategy, and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University.
#20. Michelle Gass
– Company: Kohl’s
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #183
Michelle Gass has been the CEO of Kohl’s since spring of 2018 after serving as chief merchandising and customer officer. Before starting at Kohl’s in 2013, Gass worked at Procter & Gamble and Starbucks. In 2019, Gass wrote a letter about strengthening Kohl’s commitment to the well-being of families and children as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility platform, gifting millions through partnerships with both the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
#19. Patricia Poppe
– Company: PG&E
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #168
Patricia Poppe joined the San Francisco-based utility Pacific Gas & Electric in 2021 after five years as president and CEO of CMS Energy in Michigan, becoming the first female to go from serving as CEO at one Fortune 500 company to CEO of another. Earlier in her career, she worked at General Motors, DTE Energy, and Consumers Energy. After receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University, she earned a master’s degree in management from Stanford University’s graduate school of business.
#18. Christine Leahy
– Company: CDW
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #166
A 16-year veteran of CDW before becoming CEO in 2019, Christine Leahy previously served as chief operating officer of the technology provider. She started with the company as general counsel in 2002 and then as senior vice president of the international division. According to O’Ryan Johnson of CRN, “Leahy is a founder and current sponsor of CDW’s Women’s Opportunity Network, a business resource group that actively and strategically supports the advancement of women leaders.”
#17. Jennifer Rumsey
– Company: Cummins
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #149
In 2022, Jennifer Rumsey became the first woman to lead Cummins, the world’s largest maker of diesel engines for trucks and heavy duty vehicles, as president and CEO. She began her career at a fuel processing and fuel cell startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved to Cummins in 2000, and was previously chief operating officer. She has degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rumsey has expressed wanting Cummins to achieve the same success in electric and hydrogen systems that it has had in diesel.
#16. Heyward Donigan
– Company: Rite Aid
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #148
The supermarket superpower Rite Aid Corp. named Heyward Donigan CEO in August 2019, with the chairman of the Pennsylvania-based company, Bruce Bodaken, saying in a statement, “We are confident that Heyward is the right person to lead the company in capitalizing on the opportunities in the evolving health care environment.” Donigan previously served as CEO of Sapphire Digital, CEO of ValueOptions, and chief marketing officer of Premera Blue Cross.
#15. Lynn Good
– Company: Duke Energy
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #145
Lynn Good became CEO of Duke Energy in 2013, and less than a year later, she was dealing with a worst-case scenario—thousands of tons of coal ash were spilling into the Dan River in North Carolina. The controversy that swirled around Good for months didn’t stop Fortune from writing an article nine months later titled “Is Lynn Good the smartest (new) CEO in the energy industry?” Good’s career in utilities started in 2003 at Cinergy in Cincinnati, which eventually merged with Duke Energy in 2006. At Duke Energy, she is committed to pursuing aggressive clean energy strategies to help meet ambitious climate goals.
#14. Vicki Hollub
– Company: Occidental Petroleum
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #135
As a woman who started working on oil rigs in Mississippi, it is no wonder Vicki Hollub feels at home as president and CEO at Occidental Petroleum, one of Texas’ largest petroleum producers. She was appointed to the position in 2016 and is the first woman to head a major oil company in the United States. Hollub is leading the company in its focus on creating a carbon-neutral production model and seeking federal legislation to increase carbon capture. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mineral engineering from the University of Alabama.
#13. Kathy Warden
– Company: Northrop Grumman
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #101
As president and CEO of aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman since 2019, Kathy Warden has extensive experience in information technology, cybersecurity, and venture capital. She joined Northrop Grumman in 2008 as general manager and vice president of its cybersecurity business. She previously held executive positions at General Dynamics and the Veridian Corporation and worked in commercial industries at the General Electric Company.
#12. Phebe Novakovic
– Company: General Dynamics
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #94
Some CEOs get their start on oil rigs, some in their dorm rooms. In a dramatic twist of events, Phebe Novakovic’s previous experience includes something far more exotic: espionage. She worked at the CIA and the Department of Defense before joining General Dynamics in 2001 and has been its chair and CEO since 2013. While it is unclear what exactly Novakovic did at the CIA, the success that defense contractor General Dynamics has seen under her leadership is undeniable.
#11. Safra Catz
– Company: Oracle
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #91
Israeli-born Safra Catz began her career at Oracle in 1999 and became a board member in 2001. She is a former president and chief financial officer for the company and was named co-CEO in 2017, earning $40.9 million, making her the highest-paid female CEO in the United States that year. She became the sole CEO in 2019 and continues to push for the expansion of Oracle’s cloud business.
#10. Thasunda Duckett
– Company: TIAA
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #90
In 2021, Thasunda Duckett joined the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, a leading provider of financial services for teachers and others. She was previously CEO of Chase Consumer Banking and Chase Auto Finance, the national retail sales executive for Chase Mortgage Banking, and the director of emerging markets at Fannie Mae. A finance and marketing graduate from the University of Houston with an MBA from Baylor University, she founded the Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation in honor of her parents and is passionate about helping communities of color close achievement gaps.
#9. Susan Griffith
– Company: Progressive
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #79
As president and Progressive CEO since 2016, Susan Griffith joined the company as a claims representative in 1988. Griffith held key leadership positions during her years with the insurance company. She has a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and completed the Wharton School of Business’ advanced management program.
#8. Corie Barry
– Company: Best Buy
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #68
Best Buy named Corie Barry its CEO in 2019. Previously, she was the consumer tech giant’s chief financial and strategic transformation officer. The Minnesota native joined the company in 1999 and has managed over 81,000 employees and over $47 billion in annual revenue.
#7. Jane Fraser
– Company: Citigroup
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #44
Jane Fraser became the first woman to run a major Wall Street bank when she became CEO of Citigroup in 2021. According to Citigroup, Fraser has “launched a multi-year strategy to increase Citi’s profitability and better position the firm for the speed and complexities of the digital age.” In her 18 years with the company, she has held leadership positions and was a partner at McKinsey & Company before that. Fraser has a master’s degree in economics from Cambridge University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
#6. Carol Tomé
– Company: United Parcel Service
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #34
In 2020, Carol Tomé became the 12th CEO of UPS. Previously the executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Home Depot, she began as a commercial lender with United Bank of Denver (now Wells Fargo) and became director of banking for Johns-Manville Corporation. Tomé is a University of Wyoming graduate with a master’s degree in finance from the University of Denver.
#5. Sarah London
– Company: Centene
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #26
Sarah London was appointed CEO of Centene in March 2022 from the position of vice chair, leading Centene’s technology and digital strategy and running its health care enterprises and specialty divisions. Centene provides health care to more than 26 million Americans. London played Division I tennis at Harvard University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in history and literature. She also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
#4. Mary Barra
– Company: General Motors
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #25
Mary Barra started her career as a co-op student at the General Motors Institute when she was 18, and 34 years later, in 2014, she became the first woman to be named CEO of a major global automaker. As traditional automakers defend their business models against generational shifts in car ownership and unprecedented technological advancement, having a grounded CEO to lead the charge has been more important than ever.
#3. Gail Boudreaux
– Company: Elevance Health
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #20
Gail Boudreaux has more than three decades of experience in the health care industry and, since 2017, has been president and CEO of Elevance (previously Anthem), the approximately 78 million-member health insurance provider. Boudreaux appeared on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in 2009 list. Now one of the most powerful business leaders, she previously drove billions in revenue for UnitedHealthcare, UnitedHealth Group’s largest division. Boudreaux was a star basketball player for Dartmouth College before earning her MBA from Columbia University.
#2. Roz Brewer
– Company: Walgreens Boots Alliance
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #18
Roz Brewer joined Walgreens Boots Alliance—the result of the merger of the pharmacy chains Walgreens, Boots, and Alliance—as CEO in 2021. One of “corporate America’s most prominent women and black female executives,” according to USA Today, she was chief operating officer at Starbucks from 2017 to 2021 and president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club, the membership-only retail warehouse club and division of Walmart Inc., from 2012 to 2017. She graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta; the Advanced Management Program at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and the Director’s College at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
#1. Karen Lynch
– Company: CVS Health
– 2022 Fortune 500 rank: #4
Karen Lynch has more than three decades of experience in health care and, since 2021, has been the CEO of CVS Health, a company that serves more than 100 million through its pharmacies, minute clinics, and Aetna health insurance. Her passion for health care grew from her childhood experiences: When she was 12, her mother died by suicide, and later, an aunt caring for Lynch and her siblings died from lung and breast cancers. A graduate of Boston College and the Questrom School of Business at Boston University, she was also executive vice president at CVS Health, president of Aetna, worked at Cigna and Magellan Health Services, and began her career at Ernst & Young as a certified public accountant.