Black, Cathleen 1944–

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Cathleen Black

President, Hearst Magazines

Nationality: American.

Born: April 26, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois.

Education: Trinity College, BA, 1966.

Family: Daughter of James Hamilton Black (food-company executive) and Margaret Harrington; married Thomas Harvey (attorney); children: two.

Career: Curtis Publishing, 1996, telephone ad salesperson; Holiday, 19661970, ad salesperson; New York, 19701972, ad salesperson; Ms., 19721975, advertising director; 19751977, associate publisher; New York, 19771979, associate publisher; 19791983, publisher; USA Today, 1983, president; 19841991, publisher; Newspaper Association of America, 19911995, spokesperson and lobbyist; Hearst Magazines, 1995, president.

Awards: Woman of the Year, Adweek, 1985; 30 Most Powerful Women in American Business, Fortune, 19982000; Publishing Executive of the Year, Folio, 2000; 100 Most Influential Business Leaders, Crain's New York Business, 2002.

Address: Hearst Magazines, 959 8th Avenue, New York, New York 10019-3795;

Cathleen Black became president of Hearst Magazines in 1995. Her success in expanding the company's titles' advertising sales, circulation, and presence on both national and international levels made her a notable figure in publishing history. She was described as a person who met challenges head on, a great presenter, a charming colleague, and a hands-off supervisor who trusted her editors to do their work without her intervention. She described herself as performance- and resultsdriven and was noted for breaking through gender barriers throughout her career.


Black grew up surrounded by arts and culture in her home town of Chicago. From an early age she perused the newspapers and chatted about current events with her parents. She earned a degree in English from Trinity College in Washington then headed to New York City with the hope of working in the publicity industry. She started her career by selling advertising for magazines.

Black was called on to help launch Ms. magazine as advertising manager in 1972at a time when staunch feminism was not widely accepted. She managed to convince clients that women who were entering the workplace would represent an economically sound subset of the population that would respond to their ads. Her success in sales led to her promotion to associate publisher in 1975.


Her success with Ms. did not go unnoticed. The media mogul Rupert Murdoch soon asked her to return to the East Coast to work at New York magazine as an associate publisher. She agreedwith the stipulation that if she met her goals and turned the magazine around, she would be named publisher. In 1979, after working there for two years, Black was indeed named publisher of New York, making her the first woman to hold that title for a weekly consumer magazine.

Black then moved to USA Today in 1984, where she would be credited with boosting the daily publication's circulation and making it profitable. She then headed the American Newspapers Publishers Association, where she worked mainly as a spokesperson and lobbyist. She expanded the lobbying program by increasing its budget sevenfold and merging six separate trade groups into one under the new name of the Newspaper Association of America. Noting her success with the job for which he had recruited her, the Hearst president and CEO Frank Bennack Jr. then asked Black to join Hearst as president of its magazine division.


In 1995 Black was hired to run Hearst Magazines, which at the time produced 16 publications, including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Good Housekeeping. The move made Black the first woman president of the privately held family company that had been well known for its "old boy network." Within a year she made remarkable progress in improving ad sales and the visibility and image of the company. She stressed the importance of branding each magazine and encouraged editors to think of themselves as marketers as well. Throughout her tenure she expanded on these ideas, working to apply the Hearst titles to more than 3,500 products on the world market and promoting growth in licensing, Internet presence, and international distribution. Black brought Hearst publications to more than 41 countries through 101 international editions. Her success with Hearst and throughout her career led her to be nicknamed "The First Lady of American Magazines."

See also entry on The Hearst Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

"Cathleen Black," Folio, April 30, 1999.

"Cathleen Black, President, Hearst Magazines," Hearst Corporation, Corporate Biographies,

"Magazine Chief Shakes Things Up at Hearst," New York Times, June 2, 1997.

"Meet Cathleen Black, Trinity Alumn," Trinity Times, September 25, 2003.

Jeanette Bogren