Kenneth Chenault

WGL 2021-Kenneth Chenault
Mary Altaffer—AP Images
  • Title
    Chairman and Managing Director
  • Affiliation
    General Catalyst

The former American Express CEO spent most of his 17-year tenure as one of the only Black chief executives in the Fortune 500. Now he’s asking the rest of corporate America to speak out against systemic racism—and persuading big companies to take political stands they’ve previously tried to avoid, especially around voting rights. After a reported personal outreach from Chenault, Delta CEO Ed Bastian reversed course and publicly condemned a new Georgia law that restricts voting access, and that opponents expect to particularly affect Black voters and other communities of color. Chenault and outgoing Merck CEO Ken Frazier, another one of the 21 Black people to ever run a Fortune 500 company, have teamed up to mobilize other Black business leaders—and much of corporate America—against similar proposed voting legislation across the country. Together, “the Kens” organized an open letter to “defend the right to vote and oppose any discriminatory legislation,” which was signed by about 700 companies and senior executives, including Amazon, BlackRock, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser, and Warren Buffett. Meanwhile, Chenault is also pursuing racial equity through his day job as the chairman and managing director at General Catalyst. The venture capital firm is now planning a $300 million special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to “invest in the next generation of Black entrepreneurship and leadership.”