Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color

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We all know Oprah Winfrey as the embodiment of success and empowerment, but she has surpassed that as she ranks #2 with a net worth of $3.1 billion. Winfrey has made her mark through hard work and persistence at it’s finest coming from humble beginnings in Mississippi to being a producer, host, actress, philanthropist, entrepreneur and tv personality.   Named the “Queen of Media” through her many ventures including being the producer and host of The Oprah Winfrey Show which had 25 seasons alongside establishing her own channel, OWN in 2011.  In the fall, Winfrey shot back-to-back roles in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” Talk about being an asset, Winfrey teamed up with Weight Watchers and has added $100 million to their stock when she dropped 40 lbs.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Oprah Winfrey

We all know Oprah Winfrey as the embodiment of success and empowerment, but she has surpassed that as she ranks #2 with a net worth of $3.1 billion. Winfrey has made her mark through hard work and persistence at it’s finest coming from humble beginnings in Mississippi to being a producer, host, actress, philanthropist, entrepreneur and tv personality. Named the “Queen of Media” through her many ventures including being the producer and host of The Oprah Winfrey Show which had 25 seasons alongside establishing her own channel, OWN in 2011. In the fall, Winfrey shot back-to-back roles in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” Talk about being an asset, Winfrey teamed up with Weight Watchers and has added $100 million to their stock when she dropped 40 lbs.

Coming in as #9, self-made fashion retail entrepreneur of Forever 21, Jin Sook Chang is worth $1.9 billion. Chang is the epitome of achieving the ‘American Dream’ having moved to the U.S from South Korea, working a variety of jobs, opening a 900 sqft clothing store, Fashion 21 in Los Angeles and growing it into one of the biggest women’s clothing stored, Forever 21. Chang and her husband, Don and daughters, Esther and Linda all work together, expanding Forever 21 by opening 67 stores this year.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Jin Sook Chang

Coming in as #9, self-made fashion retail entrepreneur of Forever 21, Jin Sook Chang is worth $1.9 billion. Chang is the epitome of achieving the ‘American Dream’ having moved to the U.S from South Korea, working a variety of jobs, opening a 900 sqft clothing store, Fashion 21 in Los Angeles and growing it into one of the biggest women’s clothing stored, Forever 21. Chang and her husband, Don and daughters, Esther and Linda all work together, expanding Forever 21 by opening 67 stores this year.

Chinese food on the go anyone? Thank Panda Express co-owner, Peggy Cherng who ranks #12 with a net worth of $1.5 billion. From being born in Burma, studying at Baker University where she met her husband (co-founder), receiving an electrical engineering Ph.D from University of Missouri, and coding simulators for the U.S Navy… this woman has done it all. When Cherng’s husband’s father who founded a sit-down restaurant, Panda Inn died, she left her software development career to help with the family business. From there, they founded Panda Express which is one of the world’s largest family-owned restaurant chains having 2,000 locations. Oh and of course, the Cherngs keep it in the family as daughter, Andrea is an intricate part to menu and concept ideas.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Peggy Cherng

Chinese food on the go anyone? Thank Panda Express co-owner, Peggy Cherng who ranks #12 with a net worth of $1.5 billion. From being born in Burma, studying at Baker University where she met her husband (co-founder), receiving an electrical engineering Ph.D from University of Missouri, and coding simulators for the U.S Navy… this woman has done it all. When Cherng’s husband’s father who founded a sit-down restaurant, Panda Inn died, she left her software development career to help with the family business. From there, they founded Panda Express which is one of the world’s largest family-owned restaurant chains having 2,000 locations. Oh and of course, the Cherngs keep it in the family as daughter, Andrea is an intricate part to menu and concept ideas.

Work hard, play hard. Thai Lee, CEO and co-founder of SHI INTERNATIONAL ranking #15 with a net worth of $1.2 billion. Lee, the daughter of a prominent Korean economist, moved with her sister as teens for school in the U.S. Returning back to Korea, Lee saved funds through working at an auto parts maker to attend Harvard Business School where she received a MBA. SHI INTERNATIONAL, an IT provider whose customers include AT&T is the largest U.S. woman-owned business (by sales) coming in at $6.8 billion in 2015.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Thai Lee

Work hard, play hard. Thai Lee, CEO and co-founder of SHI INTERNATIONAL ranking #15 with a net worth of $1.2 billion. Lee, the daughter of a prominent Korean economist, moved with her sister as teens for school in the U.S. Returning back to Korea, Lee saved funds through working at an auto parts maker to attend Harvard Business School where she received a MBA. SHI INTERNATIONAL, an IT provider whose customers include AT&T is the largest U.S. woman-owned business (by sales) coming in at $6.8 billion in 2015.

Ever watched BET? Thank Sheila Johnson, co-founder of the network which became an African American iconic outlet. Johnson didn’t stop there after selling to Viacom in 2001, now having stakes in NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and WNBA Mystics. Take it a step further with investments in critically-acclaimed, Lee Daniel’s “The Butler,” hotel and charter private jet services. Johnson with net worth of $710 million is #21 on the list.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Sheila Johnson

Ever watched BET? Thank Sheila Johnson, co-founder of the network which became an African American iconic outlet. Johnson didn’t stop there after selling to Viacom in 2001, now having stakes in NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and WNBA Mystics. Take it a step further with investments in critically-acclaimed, Lee Daniel’s “The Butler,” hotel and charter private jet services. Johnson with net worth of $710 million is #21 on the list.

Step aside Kardashians, Carolyn Rafaelian is an Armenian- American who has taken the jewelry sector by storm with the founding of Alex and Ani. Growing up, Rafealian’s father had a jewelry factory and when she and her sister misbehaved, their punishment was working in the factory. Little did she know that was the foundation of her starting her own company in 2004, named after her daughters, which has made its way all-over the world to women of all ages.  Keeping things eco-friendly, the products are made of recycled materials. Aside from bringing in $500 million in sales with 65 stores, Rafaelian also owns Sakonnet Vineyards and Belcourt Castle.  Rafaelian is ranking #22 with a net worth of $700 million.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Carolyn Rafaelian

Step aside Kardashians, Carolyn Rafaelian is an Armenian- American who has taken the jewelry sector by storm with the founding of Alex and Ani. Growing up, Rafealian’s father had a jewelry factory and when she and her sister misbehaved, their punishment was working in the factory. Little did she know that was the foundation of her starting her own company in 2004, named after her daughters, which has made its way all-over the world to women of all ages. Keeping things eco-friendly, the products are made of recycled materials. Aside from bringing in $500 million in sales with 65 stores, Rafaelian also owns Sakonnet Vineyards and Belcourt Castle. Rafaelian is ranking #22 with a net worth of $700 million.

Jayshree Ullal ranking at #30 with a net worth of $470 million as President and CEO of software driven cloud networking company, Arista Networks in 2008. In 2008, no revenues and less than 50 employees is what Ullal had to work with. From those humble beginnings, Ullul reported $838 million in revenue in 2015 and has positioned herself as one of America’s wealthiest female executives.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Jayshree Ullal

Jayshree Ullal ranking at #30 with a net worth of $470 million as President and CEO of software driven cloud networking company, Arista Networks in 2008. In 2008, no revenues and less than 50 employees is what Ullal had to work with. From those humble beginnings, Ullul reported $838 million in revenue in 2015 and has positioned herself as one of America’s wealthiest female executives.

Trying to find a job? Janice Bryant Howroyd has your back. Starting with a vacation to visit her sister in California and never being able to find a job she desired, with $1,500 she started ACT-1. Howroyd is the CEO of Act-1, a staffing and human resources firm topping $1billion making her one of the biggest woman and minority-owned businesses in the U.S. Beyond her firm, Howroyd served on presidential commissions for the past two Presidents and was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Advisors for the White House Initiative on HBCUs. Howroyd ranks #34 with a net worth of $420 million.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Janice Bryant Howroyd

Trying to find a job? Janice Bryant Howroyd has your back. Starting with a vacation to visit her sister in California and never being able to find a job she desired, with $1,500 she started ACT-1. Howroyd is the CEO of Act-1, a staffing and human resources firm topping $1billion making her one of the biggest woman and minority-owned businesses in the U.S. Beyond her firm, Howroyd served on presidential commissions for the past two Presidents and was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Advisors for the White House Initiative on HBCUs. Howroyd ranks #34 with a net worth of $420 million.

Taiwan native, Jane Hsiao is the CFO, chief technical officer and vice chairman of Opko Health. Opko Health has developed products for chemotherapy induced nausea, Vitamin D deficiencies and a prostate cancer test. Hsiao ranks #46 with a net worth of $320 million.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Jane Hsiao

Taiwan native, Jane Hsiao is the CFO, chief technical officer and vice chairman of Opko Health. Opko Health has developed products for chemotherapy induced nausea, Vitamin D deficiencies and a prostate cancer test. Hsiao ranks #46 with a net worth of $320 million.

Get in formation. Beyonce Knowles ranks #56 with a net worth of $265 million and is the youngest woman of color on the list. Knowles is known for being a singer, songwriter, actress and feminist among many other things. Raised in Houston, Texas and starting her music career with R&B group, Destiny’s Child, Knowles transitioned into the solo artistry space selling over 100 million records, winning 20 Grammy Awards and pulling in more than $600 million. Beyond her singing career, Knowles has endorsement deals with H&M and Pepsi, investments in Tidal, music streaming service with husband, Jay-Z and other artists and identifies as a feminist because who runs the world? Girls!
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Beyonce Knowles

Get in formation. Beyonce Knowles ranks #56 with a net worth of $265 million and is the youngest woman of color on the list. Knowles is known for being a singer, songwriter, actress and feminist among many other things. Raised in Houston, Texas and starting her music career with R&B group, Destiny’s Child, Knowles transitioned into the solo artistry space selling over 100 million records, winning 20 Grammy Awards and pulling in more than $600 million. Beyond her singing career, Knowles has endorsement deals with H&M and Pepsi, investments in Tidal, music streaming service with husband, Jay-Z and other artists and identifies as a feminist because who runs the world? Girls!

Need a bold make-up look? Toni Ko has you covered. Moving from Korea at the age of 13 and working after school at parents’ beauty supply business, Toni Ko was surrounded with business. At the age of 25, Ko noticed there was a market for department-store-quality makeup for drugstore price. From there, NYX Cosmetics was born providing bold and vibrant makeup and nail products including lip pencils in pinks and purples. Ko ranks at #57 with a net worth of $260 million.   So in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “…get some ambition while ya’ bored…” mixed with Beyonce’s “…okay ladies now let’s get in formation,” let’s make 2017 an even bigger year for women in business!
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Toni Ko

Need a bold make-up look? Toni Ko has you covered. Moving from Korea at the age of 13 and working after school at parents’ beauty supply business, Toni Ko was surrounded with business. At the age of 25, Ko noticed there was a market for department-store-quality makeup for drugstore price. From there, NYX Cosmetics was born providing bold and vibrant makeup and nail products including lip pencils in pinks and purples. Ko ranks at #57 with a net worth of $260 million. So in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “…get some ambition while ya’ bored…” mixed with Beyonce’s “…okay ladies now let’s get in formation,” let’s make 2017 an even bigger year for women in business!

Bridal game changer, Vera Wang known internationally for her couture designed gowns ranks #34 at $420 million in net worth.  Originally, Wang dreamt of making the U.S Olympic Figure Skating team and with that fail came a success when she entered the fashion industry. Now, Wang has experience dressing Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton and Viola Davis to name a few, litrally. While she didn’t make it on the U.S Olympic team, her designs did on figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan in the winter games of 1992.   Alongside designing, Wang works with New York Presbyterian Youth Anxiety Center to empower teens and young adults with anxiety disorders.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Vera Wang

Bridal game changer, Vera Wang known internationally for her couture designed gowns ranks #34 at $420 million in net worth. Originally, Wang dreamt of making the U.S Olympic Figure Skating team and with that fail came a success when she entered the fashion industry. Now, Wang has experience dressing Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton and Viola Davis to name a few, litrally. While she didn’t make it on the U.S Olympic team, her designs did on figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan in the winter games of 1992. Alongside designing, Wang works with New York Presbyterian Youth Anxiety Center to empower teens and young adults with anxiety disorders.

Ranking at #24 with a net worth of $570 million, Weili Dai is co-founder and board member of Marvell Technology, a semiconductor company started by her and her husband in 1995. The only woman to start a semiconductor company, Dai is a woman of many talents, who played semi-professional basketball before emigrating to the U.S where she studied computer science at University of California Berkeley.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Weili Dai

Ranking at #24 with a net worth of $570 million, Weili Dai is co-founder and board member of Marvell Technology, a semiconductor company started by her and her husband in 1995. The only woman to start a semiconductor company, Dai is a woman of many talents, who played semi-professional basketball before emigrating to the U.S where she studied computer science at University of California Berkeley.

The woman version of Steve Jobs, India native, Neerja Sethi with her husband started a multinational IT consulting firm, Syntel out of their apartment in Michigan with $2,000. Now with a market cap of $3.6 billion and 25,000+ employees, Sethi ranks #16 with a net worth of $1.1 billion as VP.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: America’s 14 Wealthiest Women of Color
Neerja Sethi

The woman version of Steve Jobs, India native, Neerja Sethi with her husband started a multinational IT consulting firm, Syntel out of their apartment in Michigan with $2,000. Now with a market cap of $3.6 billion and 25,000+ employees, Sethi ranks #16 with a net worth of $1.1 billion as VP.

Hustler is a noun normally associated with being a male, but these women have embodied what it means to hustle. Every year, Forbes releases a comprehensive list of the wealthiest people in the United States. In 2016, there were 60 women on the Forbes 400, 14 being women of color. Don’t let the number 14 fool you. These women are the epitome of ‘can’t stop, won’t stop.’

Ashleigh Boisseau

Ashleigh Boisseau

Ashleigh Boisseau is a feminist with plans to use her passion for communications to advocate and empower anyone she can. She is alumna from VCU with degrees in Mass Communication and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies. She also is a former contributor to emPower and RVAMag/GayRVA. If she can inspire a few, she’s happy!

 

Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.

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