The number of female-owned companies continues to grow across the country. As of 2018, there are more than 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. Tennessee has also seen an incline with over 195,000 female-owned businesses.
This year marks the 44th Annual International Woman’s Day and to celebrate, we put together a list of some of the outstanding women in leadership roles across our state.
Mary T. Barra, General Motors Chairman and CEO
General Motors has been a part of Tennessee for approximately 30 years and is a great partner to the state. Mary Barra began her career at GM in 1980. She was elected to the GM Board of Directors in 2016 and has been the CEO since 2014. During her tenure as CEO, Barra has focused on strengthening GM’s core business of great cars, trucks and crossovers, while also working to lead the transformation of personal mobility through advanced technologies like connectivity, electrification, autonomous driving and car sharing. Barra has also established a strategic direction based on putting the customer at the center of everything the company does.
Holly Sullivan, Amazon Public Policy Executive
Earlier this year, Amazon announced plans to create 5,000 jobs in Nashville to occupy its new Operations Center of Excellence in downtown Nashville. Holly Sullivan played a major role in not only finding a location for Amazon’s new Center of Excellence, she also spearheaded the national search for Amazon’s HQ2. Sullivan joined Amazon in April 2016, from an economic development position in Montgomery County, Maryland. Sullivan is now the head of worldwide economic development at Amazon. Before joining Amazon, Sullivan spent more than 15 years working to attract and retain businesses in local communities — first near Nashville, Tennessee and later in Montgomery County.
Sarah Bellos, Stony Creek Colors Founder and CEO
In 2017, Stony Creek Colors announced it would locate a new facility in Robertson County. The new Springfield facility is used to produce bio-based dyes to be sold to major denim and clothing manufacturers. Sarah Bellos, CEO and Founder of Stony Creek Colors developed the company to help lead the sustainable transformation of the textile dye industry. Prior to launching Stony Creek Colors, Bellos operated Artisan Natural Dyeworks, a small batch textile dye house garment and piece dyeing for independent fashion designers.
Hille Korhonen, Nokian Tyres President and CEO
Finland-based Nokian Tyres announced in 2017 plans to locate its new tire manufacturing plant in Rhea County, which represented the county’s largest foreign direct investment to date. Hille Korhonen has been president and CEO of Nokian Tyres since 2017 and a Member of the Board since 2006. Before joining Nokian Tyres, Korhonen has been member of the executive team of Fiskars Oyj Abp Iittala corporation. Korhonen has worked as CEO of Alko Oy since 2013.
Madeline Rogero, City of Knoxville Mayor
Madeline Rogero was elected as the 68th mayor of the City of Knoxville in 2011. She is the first woman to hold the office. She was re-elected to a second term in November 2015. During her tenure as mayor, Knoxville has seen its fair share of great economic development announcements, included Regal Cinemas, Lifetime Products and TeamHealth. Since 2011, Knox County has had more than 30 projects resulting in more than 4,000 jobs. Prior to joining the City of Knoxville, Mayor Rogero was a consultant to Capital One Financial Corporation’s Community Affairs office and to America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth, founded by General Colin Powell. She was executive director of Knoxville’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth, Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation, The University of Tennessee Community Partnership Center, and the Coal Employment Project.
Melanie Cook, GE Appliances Chief Operating Officer
In 2017, Monogram Refrigeration, a subsidiary of GE Appliances, announced plans to expand its operations in Selmer and create 210 new jobs. Monogram has been located in Selmer since 1986. Cook is responsible for operational excellence across Supply Chain, Sourcing, Services, Distribution, Quality and Information Technology. Melanie has over 23 years of experience and is skilled in leading profit & loss centers, lifecycle product management, new product development, organizational alignment, global sourcing, and continuous operational improvement.
Beverly Robertson, Memphis Chamber President and CEO
Since November 2018, Memphis has had four major jobs announcements including FedEx Logistics, JNJ Express, IndigoAg and Mimeo. Those projects alone resulted in the creation of more than 2,000 jobs. A Memphis native, Robertson is the first female president of the Greater Memphis Chamber. She worked at Holiday Inn Worldwide for 19 years and upon leaving corporate America, was asked to become interim executive director of the National Civil Rights Museum, where she ultimately spent over 17 years as museum leader and president.