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Board of Trustees

Spelman Welcomes New Board Members

The Spelman College Board of Trustees recently welcomed new Board members – Kamau Bobb, Ph.D., senior director of the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech; Sherina Maye Edwards, C’2005, alumnae trustee and executive and corporate board member; Zoe Shepard, C'2026, student trustee; and Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, founder, CEO and president of Fashion Fair Cosmetics/Black Opal, LLC.

Cheryl Mayberry McKissack

by Angela George | June 27, 2023

Spelman Trustee Cheryl Mayberry McKissackFounder, CEO and President
Fashion Fair / Black Opal 

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 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, JC Penny, selected HBCU's. The company also launched the Fashion Fair brand exclusively in Sephora stores and also 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 “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.

In her role as CEO of Nia Enterprises, Cheryl propelled revenue growth with a focus on entrepreneurial ventures and start-ups. In the past, she provided essential data to refine growth strategies for Fortune 500 firms including L’Oréal, Mondelez (formerly Kraft) and Amtrak. McKissack founded Nia Enterprises, LLC to elevate marketing and growth strategies by delivering data-driven insights with an emphasis on multicultural audiences. After being recruited as COO and President of Digital by the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Johnson Publishing Company in 2013, she helped revitalized the 72-year-old firm by leading digital transformations to spur sales growth.

McKissack generated increased revenue by implementing and selling a fair-market-price business model. She led the transformation of JPC from a print-oriented publisher of the iconic EBONY and JET magazines to a multifaceted print, digital and experiential media business focused on forging powerful emotional connections between consumers and brands via compelling storytelling. Under her digital leadership, McKissack's team expanded the e-commerce division of JPC’s cosmetics brand Fashion Fair and monetized EBONY’s library of five million images, launching the Ebony Collection by establishing a strategic partnership with Art.com. She expanded engagement on the Ebony.com website and drove advertising sales by attracting new clients, including new Apple advertising and the multi-year sponsorship of the Celebrating Black Hollywood event.

She accepted the role of CEO for the newly minted Ebony Media Operations after the print and digital media portfolio was acquired by a private equity firm in 2016. Under her leadership, the digital and print publications won acclaim including being awarded Cover of the Week by Adweek. Revenue growth was fueled by special commemorative issues like Hail to the Chief, a salute to the Obama presidency which attained an industry-leading 40% sell-through rate. She doubled media reach achieving 1B ad impressions as executive producer of the 2016 Power 100 event while attracting major sponsors like Hilton Hotels, GM, and Nationwide Insurance.

The CEO and EVP of US Robotics recommended McKissack for the role as the founding Worldwide SVP & General Manager to lead Open Port Technology. Along with the CEO and CFO, she successfully attained $22M in venture capital financing by developing and presenting a successful prospectus to multiple VC firms and other investors. In her earlier role as VP of the Americas at US Robotics, McKissack led sales, marketing and business development operations spanning two continents for a high-growth publicly traded company shortly after the IPO.

Her greatest strength is inspiring top-notch teams of professionals and sparking creativity to attain ambitious business goals. Her team increased revenue from $80M to $2.2B in five years, meeting growth objectives for all twenty consecutive quarters. She was an integral part of the executive leadership team that sold the company to 3Com for over $7B after five years. In 1990, she launched One Moment in Time, a groundbreaking women’s formal-wear rental concept and pre-cursor to today’s “Rent the Runway” that led to the establishment of three retail stores. 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. During her tenure at CIBC (formerly PrivateBank), she successfully launched the Governance program as chair and was vice chair of the compensation committee.

McKissack was the first African American woman, the youngest and (for the first decade of her tenure) the only female member of the PrivateBank Board of Directors. She was appointed as non-executive chair on the Board of Directors of the Deluxe Corporation (NYSE: DLX), the first female and African American in its 106-year history. She was also past chair of the Governance Committee and spent 10 years on the Audit committee while participating on both the compensation and finance committees. In those roles she successfully recruited a more diverse cadre of board members to elevate leadership through multiple perspectives. Cheryl was recognized by the Financial Times/ODX as one of four Directors who received the Outstanding Director of the year for 2021. Savoy Magazine also recognized her as one of the most Influential Black Corporate Directors for 2021.

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.