STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Now, the CEO of Xerox told shareholders yesterday that she is stepping down this summer, though she will stay on as chairman. Anne Mulcahy is widely credited with helping to turn around Xerox after it came close to bankruptcy. Her handpicked successor is Ursula Burns, an African-American woman who rose through the ranks.
NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
JIM ZARROLI: Burns's appointment was formally announced at the company's annual shareholder meeting. It had been widely expected. Burns has played a pivotal role at Xerox in recent years, overseeing corporate strategy, global accounts, IT and human resources. She was at Mulcahy's side during her efforts to revitalize Xerox. Burns is credited with negotiating with the company's unions to cut or outsource thousands of jobs. Today Xerox's share price is still low, but the company is profitable again and has gained market share. Burns talked about the company's turnaround at Oregon State University last September.
Ms. URSULA BURNS (Xerox): We are poised for greatness and for success. We've pulled ourselves back from the brink of bankruptcy and taught ourselves that we can do just about anything we aspire to do if we work hard and put our head down.
ZARROLI: Burns, who is 50, grew up in a New York City housing project and went on to get a Master's degree in engineering at Columbia. She started at Xerox as a summer intern in 1980. She will become one of a very small handful of female CEOs. And she will be the only African-American woman to head one of the 150 largest U.S. companies.
Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.
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