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The Top 20 African-American CEOs in Business Today

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It didn't take very long for Benzinga to identify dozens of the top African-American heads of big-name American firms, despite an overall lack of representation in the higher levels of business.

The black CEOs on our list come from all corners of the country and lead public and private companies across all sectors of the economy.

1. Jan Adams, JMA Solutions
Adams founded JMA in 2005 following 24 years of service in the United States Air Force. Her vision has fueled JMA's growth into the #125 ranking in the 2012 Inc. Magazine 5000, including the #1 ranking in Washington, D.C. The company provides financial management, IT services, systems and concept engineering and program management to the federal government.

2. Joseph B. Anderson, TAG Holdings, LLC
A former General Motors (NYSE: GM) executive, Anderson is the CEO of the Troy, Michigan-based TAG Holdings, whose subsidiaries include Korean and Chinese plumbing ceramics makers, automobile wheel-assembly suppliers and warehouse services. 2010 revenues were over $700 million.

3. William Bailey, Rapier Solutions
William Bailey is a former veteran who founded Rapier in 2002. The IT company is based in Matthews, North Carolina and landed a spot at #139 in the 2012 Inc. Magazine 5000 rankings. 2011 revenues were $3.6 million.

4. Oprah Winfrey, Oprah Winfrey Network
This list wouldn't be complete without television's greatest female personality, Oprah Winfrey. Once told that she would never be fit for presence on TV, Oprah has created a niche in the daily lives of millions of people and has spun gold from her success. She currently sits as the CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint venture between her former Harpo Productions and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA).

With a personal estimated net worth of $2.8 billion, Oprah finds herself at #168 in the richest people in the United States, #151 on the Forbes 500, #2 in the Celebrity 100 and #1 in TV/Radio. Oprah Winfrey also landed herself on the cover of Forbes magazine in September 2012 with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

5. Ulysses Bridgeman, Bridgeman Foods Inc.
The former NBA 12-year veteran heads up the $500 million Manna Inc. and ERJ Inc., which combine to form one of the largest restaurateurs in the nation. Bridgeman manages over 320 restaurants, including 163 Wendy's (NASDAQ: WEN) and 120 Chili's, the latter operated by Brinker International (NYSE: EAT).


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6. Ursula M. Burns, Xerox Corporation
The document management giant is run by Ursula Burns, who became the first woman to head a Fortune 500 company in 2009. Xerox's (NYSE: XRX) 2012 revenues were $22.39 billion and its Fortune 500 ranking stands at #127.


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7. Kenneth I. Chenault, American Express
Chenault has been the CEO of American Express (NYSE: AXP) since 2001. The Long Island native has led the Fortune 500 (#95) corporation through unprecedented growth, with 2012 revenues totaling $33.80 billion. Chenault heads over 63,000 employees.

8. Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., TIAA-CREF
The former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Ferguson is a Washington, D.C. native who took over as CEO of retirement provider TIAA-CREF in 2008. TIAA-CREF is ranked #88 in the Fortune 500.


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9. Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck & Co., Inc.
The Philadelphia-native became the head of pharmaceutical giant Merck (NYSE: MRK) in 2011. That year, revenues totaled $48 billion for Merck, which possesses a #57 ranking in the Fortune 500 and employs 86,000 people.

10. Ronald Hall, Sr., Bridgewater Interiors
Bridgewater has been one of the nation's leading auto parts suppliers since its 1998 inception. The Detroit-bred CEO of the company, Ronald Hall Sr., has led its growth, which included $1.6 billion in revenues in 2011. Its leading customers include General Motors and Ford (NYSE: F).

11. Janice Bryant Howroyd, ACT-1 Group
The North Carolina-native runs a billion dollar enterprise in ACT-1, which is now the nation's largest woman- and minority-owned employment-services company in the US. ACT-1 is a specialized staffing company.

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12. Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Magic Johnson Enterprises
Highlighted by his recent $50 million stake in the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson's eponymous enterprise owns a series of movie theaters, restaurants and health clubs across the country. More recently, the company has gotten involved in real estate development. The company's 2012 worth totaled $700 million.

13. Robert L. Johnson, The RLJ Companies
Johnson was the former head of Black Entertainment Television (BET) before it was swallowed up by Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB). Johnson's kept plenty of skin in the game, however, founding the RLJ Companies, an asset management firm with an inkling for discovering undiscovered or undeserved markets. Johnson's private equity real funds have over $2 billion in combined assets and nearly $4 billion in additional purchasing power.

14. Kamoru Lawal, CAMAC
Lawal runs the Houston-based CAMAC Energy (NYSE: CAK), a major oil and gas company involved in exploration, development and production, founded in 1986. The Nigerian-born, American-raised CEO of CAMAC has operations in Nigeria and China. The company's annual revenue in 2010 totaled $1.5 billion.

15. Alex & Feysan Lodde, MV Transporation, Inc.
The Fairfield, California-based company led by the husband-and-wife team of Alex and Feysan Lodde is the nation's largest privately held passenger-transportation contracting firm. Established in 1975, the company's revenue crossed the $700 million mark in 2010.


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16. Harold F. Mills, ZeroChaos
ZeroChaos is a contractor for employers, offering professional payrolling, risk management and private label sourcing, among other services. Led by Harold Mills, the Orlando-based company ranked in annual sales of $700 million in 2010. Mills was previously an executive at Ameritech.

17. Clarence Otis, Jr., Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) is one of the nation's largest restaurateurs and Clarence Otis is its CEO. With a rank of #342 in the Fortune 500 and 2012 revenues of $7.6 billion, the Otis-led company owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and other chains, employing over 178,000 people as of 2011.

18. Jim Reynolds, Loop Capital
Reynolds is one of the biggest African-Americans in investment management today. His Chicago-based international investment banking and brokerage firm, Loop Capital, has grown by leaps and bounds, becoming the 6th largest municipal underwriter in the country.

19. David L. Steward, World Wide Technology Inc.
The Stewart-led World Wide Technology Inc. offers a variety of technology products and financial services. Founded in 1990, the Maryland Heights, Missouri-based firm reached revenues of $3.2 billion in 2010.


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20. Don Thompson, McDonald's
A Chicago native, Thompson became the CEO of McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) in 2012, a former electric engineer who first started at the fast-food giant designing robotic equipment and control circuits for transport and cooking, respectively. He was previously a fighter jet maker at Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC). In 2012, McDonald's revenues were $27.5 billion and the company was ranked #107 in the Fortune 500.

Follow Alex Biles on Twitter at @disorderorder

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