New York Women's History Month Business
Estée Lauter

Estée Lauter

Estée Lauter (1906–2004), Beautician and business executive Estée Lauder was born in Queens, New York in 1908, and started a beauty company with a skin cream developed by her chemist uncle. She came from a family of Jewish immigrants— her mother was Hungarian and her father was Czech. Lauder showed her interest in beauty at an early age; she was only a teenager when she started selling her products at local hair salons. Lauder marketed her wares as “jars of hope” and even gave out free samples. After years of selling products on her own, she officially formed Estée Lauder Cosmetics Inc. in 1946. In 1953, her Youth Dew beauty oil took her company to a new level of success. Lauder w as as innovative with her marketing strategies as she was with her cosmetic products, eventually making her the richest self-made woman in the world. Lauder’s business success allowed her to form friendships with other powerful women like Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, and actress Grace Kelly, also known as Princess Grace of Monaco.


Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns (1958–Present), Ursula Burns is the first and only black woman who is Chair and CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She grew up in a public housing project on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. After graduating from Cathedral High School, Burns attended New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, where she earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and began interning at Xerox. This would begin her lifelong association with the company. After successfully acting as a project manager for 10 years, she was promoted to be then Chairman and CEO Paul Allaire’s Executive Assistant. In 2000, she was named Senior Vice President and then in 2009 she became Xerox’s first black female CEO. A year later, she succeeded her mentor, Anne Mulcahy, as chair. Burns is credited with seeing the company through a period of transition while still maintaining its commitment to the communities it has traditionally supported.


Nina Tassler

Nina Tassler

Nina Tassler, Nina Tassler is President of CBS Television’s Entertainment Division. Tassler grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York. After graduating from Boston University, she moved to New York City to work in the arts and entertainment industry. In 1984, Tassler moved to Los Angeles and eventually took a position with Lorimar Television. She quickly demonstrated the capacity to develop creative ideas for television shows that would appeal to vast audiences. In 1997, Tassler was hired by CBS and charged with helping to create a new vision for the Entertainment Division. Her energy and creative insights helped revitalize the network and ushered in one of CBS’s longest running growth periods. In recognition of her work in revitalizing CBS, she was promoted to President of the Entertainment Division. Tassler is considered one of the most influential and powerful network executives today and CBS continue to flourish under her passionate leadership.


Louise Blanchard Bethune

Louise Blanchard Bethune

Louise Blanchard Bethune (1856-1913), Louise Blanchard Bethune was born in Waterloo, NY. After graduating from Buffalo Central High School she became a teacher. Following two years of teaching she turned down an opportunity to further her education at Cornell University and instead chose to become an apprentice draftsman at an architectural firm in Buffalo. Five years later, in 1881, she opened her own architectural firm with her partner and future husband Robert Bethune, becoming the first woman in the nation to open her own licensed architectural firm. Louise proved to be a gifted architect, designing several buildings that still stand today. She was also invited to design several temporary buildings for the 1901 Pan American Exposition. Bethune became a leader in her field, publishing articles about other women architects and being named the first female associate of the American Institute of Architects.

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