Linda Johnson Rice
daughter of John H. Johnson
Linda Johnson Rice is chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), owner of the global beauty brand for women of color Fashion Fair Cosmetics and the former Chairman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations, parent company of Ebony and Jet magazine brands. Her influence spans business and editorial, from planning the strategic direction of the global beauty brand to setting the tone of the heritage magazines.
The daughter of JPC founders John H. and Eunice W. Johnson was a constant presence at the Ebony/Jet headquarters while growing up and tapped as the company’s future leader. She studied journalism at the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, then returned to Chicago to work at JPC during the day and earn her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management at night.
After her father’s death in 2005, then her mother’s in 2010, and faced with industry freefall, Johnson Rice had to adapt to new realities and make some tough choices. In 2011, she transitioned out of the CEO role to become chairman and focus on right-sizing the company.
Selling Ebony and Jet in 2016 to an African-American private investment company was difficult, she concedes, but has enabled the publications to expand into an ecosystem that includes branded events and activations, with Johnson Rice as brand ambassador. They include the Ebony Power 100 gala, and the Campus Queens events celebrating black women at HBCUs.
Along her journey, Johnson Rice has gained extensive board experience and has continued to advance her reputation in the business lexicon. She serves on the board of directors of Omnicom Group and GrubHub, and in 2018 was named one of WomenInc. magazine’s “Most Influential Corporate Directors.” She also is a Council Member of The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Northwestern Memorial Corporation; a trustee at the Art Institute of Chicago; president of the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors and member of Adweek’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. She previously served on the boards of Continental Bank; Bausch & Lomb; Dial Corporation; Viad Corp.; MoneyGram; Quaker Oats; Kimberly-Clark and Tesla.
Johnson Rice was named by the Chicago Sun-Times as among Chicago’s “100 Most Powerful Women” and one of the “Top 10 Women in Media.” Crain’s Chicago Business named her one of “The 20 Most Powerful Women in Chicago Business.” She also received the Women of Power Award from the National Urban League, the Trumpet Award from Turner Broadcasting, the Alumni Merit Award from the University of Southern California, and the Alumni of the Year Award from the Black Management Association at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
As a sought-after speaker on women’s empowerment, Johnson Rice shares her warmth and wisdom with women of color to encourage collaboration, personal growth and fulfillment. “Women supporting women is the way we move forward, together. It’s not about the destination but the journey.”