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Trustee: Cheryl Mayberry McKissack

Spelman Trustee Cheryl Mayberry McKissackFounder, CEO and President
Fashion Fair / Black Opal
BS, Seattle University
MBA, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management
Spelman College Board of Trustees: Elected in 2023
City of Residence: Chicago, IL

As a dynamic, inspirational executive Cheryl Mayberry McKissack has a history of stellar success igniting growth by building world-class management teams, leading digital transformations, raising capital from investors, and penetrating multicultural markets. She is a respected board member with multifaceted expertise in addition to being a well-known author and speaker.

For more than a decade, she challenged and motivated young entrepreneurs as an associate professor in the MBA program at Northwestern University’s prestigious Kellogg School of Management. In 2019, she became president and co-owner of Black Opal, a global cosmetics and skin care company founded in 1994 for women of color. In November 2019, Black Opal acquired Fashion Fair Cosmetics, and McKissack along with her business partner Desiree Rogers secured financing for both companies. 

She is responsible for oversight of key areas for Black Opal and Fashion Fair which include strategy, digital, IT, HR, legal, and global retail sales. The company has received over a dozen outstanding product awards while increasing overall sales. The Black Opal expansion includes Walmart, Rite Aid, CVS, ULTA, Target, Amazon, JCPenney, and selected HBCUs. The company also launched the Fashion Fair brand exclusively in Sephora stores and completed a reformulation of both brands to include cleaner products. 

Currently, the company is using augmented reality (A/R) technology to create Virtual Try On (VTO) digital experiences for their consumers. The rebirth of the Fashion Fair line was achieved in September 2021 with the launch of its first collection through an exclusive partnership with Sephora. The documentary called “The Beauty of Blackness” was commissioned by Sephora which chronicled the journey to bring back the iconic brand and the streaming rights were purchased by HBO Max in early 2022.

Her greatest strength is inspiring top-notch teams of professionals and sparking creativity to attain ambitious business goals. In the earliest years of her career, after earning a bachelor’s degree at Seattle University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, McKissack garnered foundational management, sales, and marketing experience through her 15-year career at IBM. Cheryl has an exemplary record of board service.

She also serves on several nonprofit boards including the University of Chicago Medical Center and the Chicago Library Foundation. As a highly sought-after speaker, Cheryl engages audiences at Northwestern/Kellogg, Berkeley Haas School of Business, National Association of Investors, DocuSign, Crain’s, Northern Trust Dream Maker forum, Private Company Governance Summit, and the Women’s Leadership Forum. She is the co-author of three popular Nia Guidebooks. Her fourth book, "The Entrepreneurial Sell," was published in November 2018. In these roles, McKissack continues to share the insights, humor, and expertise that power her success as an influential business leader.