Kenneth Irvine Chenault (born June 2, 1951, French pronunciation: [ʃeno]) is an American business executive. He has been the CEO and Chairman of American Express since 2001. He is the third African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Early life, education, and legal career
Chenault grew up on Long Island, New York as the son of a dentist and dental hygienist. He attended the alternative Waldorf School of Garden City, where he served as senior class president. He then received B.A. in history from Bowdoin College in 1973, and juris doctor from Harvard Law School in 1976.
CEO of American Express
While CEO of American Express in 2007, Chenault earned a total compensation of $50,126,585, and in 2008, he earned a total compensation of $42,752,461. In 2009, he earned a total compensation of $16,617,639, which included a base salary of $1,201,923, a cash bonus of $10,450,000, an option grant of $3,985,637, and other compensation worth $980,079.
He is currently co-chair of the Business Roundtable, a director at IBM, and a member at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1995, Ebony listed him as one of 50 “living pioneers” in the African-American community. Chenault was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2008, he gave the commencement address at Howard University.
On Monday, November 15, 2010, Old North Foundation recognized Chenault with its Third Lantern Award for individual commitment and dedication to public service. The Foundation honored Chenault and American Express for their significant contributions to the preservation efforts of many significant monuments and landmark structures, including the steeple of the Old North Church. Chenault joins a long list of prestigious Third Lantern Award recipients, including President Clinton, U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, former Boston Mayor Kevin H. White and Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino.
Chenault resides in New Rochelle, New York with his wife and children