April 4, 2024

Thasunda Brown Duckett

President & CEO / TIAA

Thasunda Brown Duckett addressed The Economic Club of Chicago on April 4 in front of a live audience. The conversation was moderated by Laysha Ward, Strategic Advisor, Target Corporation. Topics ranged from leadership lessons she learned from her parents, DEI and life balance.

I chose to live my life as a diversified portfolio.

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Thasunda Brown Duckett on life balance.


Thasunda Brown Duckett

President & CEO / TIAA

Thasunda Brown Duckett is President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA, a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions for millions of people and thousands of institutions. She leads a company whose mission is defined by financial inclusion and opportunity – goals and values she has upheld throughout her career. Under her leadership, TIAA is expanding its mission beyond higher education to all Americans saving for retirement. Before joining TIAA in 2021, she held several key executive roles during a 17-year career at JP Morgan Chase, including CEO of the Consumer Bank and Auto Finance. Earlier in her career, she was a Director of Emerging Markets at Fannie Mae. Duckett serves on the boards of NIKE, Inc., Brex Inc., Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Sesame Workshop, National Medal of Honor Museum, Economic Club of New York, the University of Houston Board of Visitors, and the Dean’s Advisory Board for Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. She also is a member of the Executive Leadership Council CEO Advisory Board, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America Inc. In addition, Duckett is an appointee to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), The Business Council Executive Committee and the Committee for Economic Development. She also serves on the board of Business Roundtable. Duckett has received a wide array of accolades from financial media, including Fortune, Forbes, Barron’s, American Banker, Money and MarketWatch. She founded the Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation in honor of her parents to recognize and reward people who use ordinary means to empower and uplift their community in extraordinary ways. Duckett grew up in Texas and lives in Connecticut with her family. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Marketing from the University of Houston and an MBA from Baylor University.


Laysha Ward

Strategic Advisor / Target Corporation

Laysha Ward is an accomplished C-suite executive with 32 years of leadership experience at Target. She has demonstrated an ability to lead through rapid change, solve problems, build innovative community programs, and collaborate with key stakeholders to support organizational goals and objectives. In 2017, Ms. Ward was named Executive Vice President, Chief External Engagement Officer, overseeing Target’s enterprise-wide approach to engage and deepen relationships with cross-sector stakeholders to drive positive business and community impact. She is a founding member of the Racial Equity Action and Change committee (REACH), established in 2020 to help lead the organization’s strategy to drive lasting impact for Black team members, guests and communities. Ms. Ward began her career with Target in 1991 as a member of the store sales and management team of Marshall Fields in Chicago. She was named Director of Community Relations in 2000 and promoted to Vice President of Community Relations and Target Foundation in 2003. She previously served as Executive Vice President, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer before being named to her current position. In 2008, President Bush nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Ms. Ward to serve on the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the nation’s largest grantmaker for volunteering and service. She continued on the board under the Obama Administration, where she served as board chair. Later that year, she was promoted to President of Community Relations and the Target Foundation. She serves on the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Advisory Board and the Stanford Center for Longevity Advisory Council; is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the Economic Clubs of New York and Chicago, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and The Links, and serves on the boards of Greater MSP, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Northside Achievement Zone. Laysha is also a member of Denny’s Corporation board of directors and United Airlines board of directors. She received a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She and her husband, Bill, reside in Minneapolis, MN.