For nearly 50 years, African Americans on the HBS faculty have forged extraordinary careers that have traversed and shaped the worlds of academia, government, and the corporate and public sectors. The individuals profiled here—Andrew F. Brimmer, James I. Cash Jr., Linda A. Hill, and David A. Thomas—have demonstrated their dedication to the School's ideals and core mission through their active engagement with students, purposeful impact on HBS studies and curriculum, inspiring roles as mentors, and key leadership positions at HBS. In the course of their work, research, and writings, these educators and scholars have made far-ranging contributions to the fields of economics, monetary trade, educational psychology, organizational psychology, race and ethnic studies, leadership, innovation, and information technology. Agents of Change: A Review of Thought Leadership on Race and Black Business Leadership at Harvard Business School, an essay by Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts, provides an historical review of thought leadership on race and Black business leadership at HBS. Read the essay
Andrew F. Brimmer
Andrew F. Brimmer was one of the nation's leading authorities on economics, who served in senior positions in Washington, D.C., as well as an advocate for increasing opportunities for Blacks in business and promoting economic equity in the public and private spheres. He earned his bachelor and master's degrees in economics from the University of Washington and his doctorate from Harvard University in 1957 in monetary economics and international trade. He was the recipient of 26 honorary degrees before his death in 2012. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Dr. Brimmer to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the first African American to serve on the Board. He also sat on the boards of leading corporations in America, the Harvard Board of Overseers, and the Board of Trustees for Tuskegee University, where the Brimmer College of Business and Information Science is named in his honor. From 1974 to 1976, Dr. Brimmer taught Finance at HBS, where he was the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation Visiting Professor. Dr. Brimmer authored or co-authored 10 books and published more than 100 articles focused on international finance, monetary policy, and economic developments in the Black community.
James I. Cash Jr.
Currently the James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, James I. Cash Jr. joined the faculty of HBS in 1976 and became the first African American tenured professor at the School in 1986. Dr. Cash has earned numerous honors in recognition of his thought leadership in the strategic use of information technology, including being named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and receiving the Robert F. Greenhill Award for outstanding service to HBS. Dr. Cash earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Texas Christian University, where his basketball jersey still hangs in the rafters. He later received a master's degree in computer science from Purdue University's Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences and a doctorate in management information systems and accounting from Purdue University's Krannert Graduate School of Management. Dr. Cash has held key leadership roles at HBS as Chairman of the MBA Program, Senior Associate Dean, Chairman of Baker Library, and Chairman of HBS Publishing. Upon his retirement in 2003, Dr. Cash was recognized as a tireless recruiter and mentor for minority students and faculty. He has served on a number of boards of major corporations and nonprofit institutions, including Microsoft, Walmart (where he is the lead independent director), General Electric, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, and the Boston Celtics.
Linda A. Hill
Linda A. Hill, recognized by Thinkers50 as one of the top ten management thinkers in the world, is a noted scholar in the areas of developing leaders, building innovative organizations and ecosystems, and the role of the board in governing innovation. Dr. Hill was a 2015 recipient of the Thinkers50 Innovation Award. Her publication Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation was regarded by Business Insider as one of "The 20 Best Business Books" in 2014 and received the Gold Medal for Leadership, Axiom Business Book Award. Dr. Hill received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College, her master's degree in educational psychology, and her doctorate in behavioral sciences from the University of Chicago. She then completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at HBS. Appointed as a member of the HBS faculty in 1984, she became the first African American woman tenured faculty member in 1995. She is currently the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at HBS, where she also serves as chair of the Leadership Initiative. Dr. Hill's contributions to HBS include MBA, executive, and e-learning course development, based on her extensive field research on learning to lead. Her rich cases, many of which feature women and minority protagonists, are among the most popular in the Harvard Business Publishing catalog.
A recognized leader in the field of strategic human resource management, David A. Thomas received his bachelor's from Yale University in administrative sciences and his master's degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University. He later earned a master's degree and a doctorate in organizational behavior from Yale University. Dr. Thomas joined the faculty at HBS in 1990 and was named the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration in 2000. During his tenure, Dr. Thomas served as Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Recruitment and as Unit Head for the Organizational Behavior Unit. In 2011, Dr. Thomas was appointed Dean and William R. Berkley Chair of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. In January 2018, he became the 12th president of Morehouse College. Dr. Thomas has devoted his research to issues relating to executive development, cultural diversity in organizations, leadership, and organizational change. He is the co-author of several books and has written more than 60 articles and case studies, including the best-selling Harvard Business Review article "Making Differences Matter." His book Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives received the Academy of Management's George R. Terry Book Award for outstanding contribution to the advancement of management knowledge.