25 LGBTQ Women Business and Leadership Pioneers You Should Know
Did you know that Sirius XM Radio was invented by a trans woman? Can you name the first queer woman CEO of a Fortune 500 Company? What about the first out transgender billionaire? Are you aware that the CEO of the London Stock Exchange is an out lesbian? Keep reading to learn about these and more LGBTQ+ women pioneers in business and leadership.
Former CEO, Lloyd’s of London
In 2013, Dame Inga Beale became the first female and openly LGBTQ CEO of U.K. insurance giant Lloyd’s of London. She stepped down after five years of service in 2018.
Board President, Christopher Street West/LA Pride
In 2020, Sharon-Franklin Brown became the first Black transgender woman to be appointed President of the Board of Christopher Street West/LA Pride, the world’s first and longest-running Pride parade.
Geraldine Elizabeth “Liz” Carmichael was a transgender automobile executive who, during the 1970s energy crisis, pioneered and promoted a prototype for a low-cost fuel-efficient car via Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation. The subject of the HBO Max documentary The Lady and the Dale, Carmichael was convicted of fraud charges in 1989.
President and CEO, Land O’ Lakes
When she was appointed president and CEO of Land O’ Lakes in 2018, Beth Ford became the first and only out queer woman to lead a Fortune 500 company in the United States.
Founder and Managing Partner, Backstage Capital
Angel investor, author, and former concert tour manager Arlan Hamilton is the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in women, people of color, and LGBTQ founders. She is also the first non-celebrity Black woman to grace the cover of Fast Company magazine.
Founder and Exec. Director, Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Transgender activist Elle Hearns is a cofounder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and the current founder and Executive Director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute.
CEO, London Stock Exchange
In 2020, Julia Hoggett became the first out LGBTQ person, and only the second woman, to serve as CEO of London Stock Exchange in the organization’s 300-year history.
White House Press Secretary
Political campaign organizer Karine Jean-Pierre was appointed by President Biden to be the first queer and Black woman to serve as White House Press Secretary.
Exec. Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
When she was appointed to the position of Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force in 2021, Kierra Johnson became the first Black woman to hold the position and one of few out queer women of color at the helm of a national LGBTQ organization.
Liz Lambert is the founder of Bunkhouse Group, an Austin, TX-based hospitality organization with eight boutique hotels, one event space, and a coffee shop with four locations.
Admiral Rachel Levine
US Assistant Secretary for Health
In 2021, pediatrician Dr. Rachel Levine was nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, making her the first out transgender person confirmed by the U.S. Senate in history and the highest-ranking transgender government official in the nation.
Former CEO, Patagonia
In 2014, Rose Marcario was appointed CEO of outdoor apparel company Patagonia. Prior to that, she served as CFO of the company for six years. Marcario stepped down from her role as CEO in 2020.
Delaware State Senator
In November 2020, author and activist Sarah McBride was elected the Delaware State Senate, making her the first transgender state senator in Delaware and United States history.
Founder and CEO, Pollo West Corp.
In 1986, Michaela Mendelsohn founded Pollo West Corp., a chain of six fast casual chicken restaurants in the Los Angeles area. A staunch advocate of transgender rights, Mendelsohn is the first transgender person to serve on the board of The Trevor Project, and is the founder of Trans Can Work, an organization helping gender-diverse workers find employment.
Founder, Lesbians Who Tech + Allies
In 2012, entrepreneur Leanne Pittsford founded Lesbians Who Tech + Allies, the largest LGBTQ technology community in the world, with 50,000 LGBTQ women, non-binary people, people of color and allies in tech in over 42 cities worldwide.
Investor and Philanthropist
Founder of Tawani Enterprises and an heir to the Hyatt hotels fortune, Jennifer Pritzker is the first and only known transgender billionaire in history, with a net worth of $1.9 billion.
Trans advocate and journalist
In 2006, Monica Roberts launched TransGriot, one of the first blogs to report on transgender issues. She described the blog as “A proud unapologetic Black trans woman speaking truth to power and discussing the world around her.” Roberts died in late 2020 at age 58.
Founder and CEO, TransTech Social Enterprises
Actress (Pose, American Horror Story) and transgender rights advocate Angelica Ross is the Founder and CEO of Trans Tech Social Enterprises, a co-learning and co-working community dedicated to empowering trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer people and allies with practical, career-ready skills.
Founder and CEO, United Therapeutics
Did you know that the creator of Sirius XM Radio is a transgender woman? Not only did Martine Rothblatt pioneer satellite radio, but she has also broken barriers in the fields of life sciences and transgender rights activism. Furthermore, in 2013, Rothblatt earned a salary of $38 million, making her the highest paid female CEO at the time.
Host, A Little Late with Lilly Singh
Comedian and Youtuber Lilly Singh is the first openly bisexual person and the first person of Indian and South Asian descent to host a late night television show on a major American television network.
Founder and CEO, Shift7; Former U.S. CTO
After a successful career at Google, Megan Smith was appointed in 2014 as the third (and first female and LGBTQ) Chief Technology Officer of the United States. She is currently the founder and CEO of Shift7.
Former Assistant Coach, San Francisco 49ers
After playing in the Women’s Football Alliance, Katie Sowers joined the NFL in 2016 as a coach for the Atlanta Falcons and then with the San Francisco 49ers where, in 2020 she made history as the first woman and first out queer person to coach in a Super Bowl.
In 1973, Jewel Thais-Williams opened Jewel’s Catch One, one of the first Black gay nightclubs in the United States, and the longest-running Black queer dance bar in Los Angeles. Thais-Williams is the subject of the award-winning documentary Jewel’s Catch One, which aired on Netflix .
Peyton Rose Michelle Theriot
In 2020, at age 22, Peyton Rose Michelle Theriot was elected to serve on the Democratic State Central Committee for the 46th District A, making her the first openly transgender woman elected to a Louisiana political position.
A Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney and civil rights activist of Japanese descent, Mia Yamamoto is the first openly trans attorney in California history.