Backstory: A native of Chicago, Black moved to Manhattan after college, determined to land a job in publishing. When she was offered a sales assistant job with Condé Nast, she turned it down, taking a position at a travel magazine called Holiday instead because it paid $30 more a week. By 1972, Black had moved on to Gloria Steinem's Ms. magazine, where her success selling ads attracted the attention of Rupert Murdoch, who owned New York at the time. Murdoch lured her away from Ms. with the promise that he'd make her New York's publisher if she proved herself as associate publisher first. That she did—and in 1979 Black became the first ever female publisher of a weekly consumer magazine.
In 1983, Black left New York and took the job of president at USA Today, which had been founded a year earlier. She eventually moved up to publisher of the Gannett-owned paper and helped turn it into a household name during her eight-year tenure. Following a stint running industry trade group the Newspaper Association of America, she joined Hearst in 1995.
In November 2010, following a 15-year run at Hearst, Black was tapped by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to take over the New York City public school system. She replaced Joel Klein, who announced he was stepping down as schools chancellor to take a position at News Corp. The move immediately generated criticism, especially since both of Black's children attend fancy boarding schools.
Of note: Dubbed "The First Lady of American Magazines" during Hearst's impressive growth spurt in the late 1990s, the last few years of Black's tenure were rough ones. Black had to endure an magazine industry in decline, and although she had at least one big successful launch in the '00s—Oprah's O—she had more flops, including Lifetime, Shop Etc., and, perhaps most memorably, Tina Brown's Talk, produced in partnership with Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein's Miramax.
In print: Her book Basic Black, a "memoir masquerading as a guide to career and life," was published in October 2007.
Personal: Black is married to Tom Harvey, a lawyer. They have two adopted children, Duffy and Alison, and live on Park Avenue. They also have a retreat in Connecticut and at the exclusive Fire Island community Point O'Woods.
For the record: Cathie was once "Cathy." She changed the spelling of her nickname when she was 12 because she "didn't want to be like everybody else."
Full Name: Cathleen P. Black
Date of Birth: 04/26/1944
Place of Birth: Chicago, IL
Undergrad: Trinity College
Residence(s): New York, NY (Upper East Side); Bridgewater, CT; Fire Island, NY
Filed Under: Media, Magazines, Education
[Photo via Getty Images]