The first of six women named a "Titan" on TIME's 100 list, Mellody Hobson is the epitome of a female powerhouse. Hobson may not be a household name yet, but she helps run a number of companies that are. On top of running the Chicago money-management firm Ariel Investments, the 45-year-old is a board member at so many companies and philanthropic organizations, it's amazing the woman has time to sleep.
Hobson is currently the president of Ariel Investments, a board member at Starbucks and Estée Lauder, chairman of the board at DreamWorks Animation, works for CBS News, and is a board member for Chicago Public Library, Field Museum, Chicago Public Education Fund, and Sundance Institute. Phew. See what I mean about the no sleeping? In her short biography on TIME's list of "The 100 Most Influential People," Bill Bradley describes her as "determined, disciplined, and enormously curious." Bradley said in TIME: "She has said her goals are to do well, surrounded by interesting people, and change the world for the better. Since she’s already doing those things now, just imagine what the next 30 years will bring."
Hobson worked hard for her success — it wasn't handed to her. She grew up in Chicago as the sixth child of a single mother and pushed herself to do well in school. She attended Princeton, although she had offers from other Ivy Leagues, and after interning at Ariel for a summer, took a full-time job after graduation as an unofficial chief of staff to John Rogers, who founded the company. Hobson was named president of Ariel in 2000. Over the years, she has become a significant shareholder in the company, now owning stakes worth tens of millions of dollars, according to Vanity Fair.
Her philanthropic work began when Rogers and she founded Ariel Community Academy, a public school in Chicago that includes financial literacy coursework, in the 1990s. Then, in 2002, she created the Black Corporate Directors Conference for board members of Fortune 500 companies. Hobson and her husband, filmmaker George Lucas, have donated $25 million to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and announced that they'll give another $25 million to the Chicago nonprofit After School Matters. She's even dabbled in politics, strongly supporting President Obama's campaigns and helping with Bradley's presidential campaign.
Along with being an incredible businesswoman, Hobson is an inspiring example of mother who continues to have a successful career (she and Lucas had a daughter, Everest, last August). Sheryl Sandberg told Vanity Fair that Hobson helped inspire her book Lean In, saying: "She said she wanted to be unapologetically black and unapologetically a woman. My life was altered by meeting her, and that’s not something I say lightly. She is such a big part of my path taken. I think she does that for everyone."
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