Ursula Burns is not only a powerful woman, she's the first African-American woman to run a Fortune 500 company. Burns started at Xerox (XRX - Get Report) in 1980 as a summer intern. From there, she rose all the way to the top spot, including being an executive assistant, ultimately becoming CEO in 2009.
Despite her current success, Burns came from humble beginnings. She was raised by a single mother in a New York City housing project. The daughter of Panamanian immigrants went on to graduate with a mechanical engineering degree from NYU. She received her masters in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. Burns married Lloyd Bean, who also worked at Xerox.
Along with her current work at Xerox, Burns serves on the boards of American Express (AXP) and Exxon Mobil (XOM). Burns provides leadership advice to non-profit and community organizations such as MIT and the U.S. Olympic Committee.She's also a founding board director at Change the Equation, an organization devoted to improving science and technology education. Like Sandberg, Burns also has ties to Washington. President Obama appointed Burns to vice chair of the President's Export Council.