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Apple Diversifies Board, Elects Former Boeing Executive

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he is "delighted, but not surprised" by the appointment of the black executive.

Scott Olson / Getty

James A. Bell, a former chief financial officer and corporate president of Boeing, has been elected to Apple’s board of directors.

The appointment of Bell, an executive with decades of experience in finance and strategic planning who is also black, comes at a time when the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus have been calling on Apple and other technology companies to diversify their boards of directors. Bell fills the vacancy left by Mickey Drexler’s departure earlier this year.

“James brings a wealth of global, financial and industrial experience from his successful career at Boeing as corporate president and CFO,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in his statement. “I am thrilled to welcome him to Apple’s board of directors and I look forward to working with him.”

Over the course of Bell’s 38-year career with the aerospace giant, he oversaw Boeing Capital Corporation and Boeing Shared Services and served as interim CEO of Boeing in 2005. He also serves as a member of the board of directors of J.P. Morgan Chase, Dow Chemical Company and CDW, and as a trustee of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

Bell attended California State University, Los Angeles where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

“I am an avid user of Apple products and have a tremendous respect for the company’s ability to innovate,” Bell said in a statement. “I am delighted to join the Apple board and look forward to contributing to its continued success in any way I can.”

Earlier this year, Jackson attended Apple’s annual shareholder’s meeting and called on the world’s most valuable company to nominate a black executive to its board of directors. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus traveled to Silicon Valley this summer to deliver a similar message: Technology companies need to hire more blacks and nominate them to their boards of directors.

Jackson pronounced himself “delighted, but not surprised” by Bell’s appointment, noting that there is no shortage of qualified executives to fill such roles — and that Cook had pledged to further diversify Apple’s board.

“It’s good news that Tim has honored his commitment,” Jackson said. “It’s good news because a company as visible as Apple has to set the pace.”

Jackson called on other companies, including Twitter and Facebook, to follow the examples of Apple and Hewlett Packard, which this summer nominated four women and two blacks to its board of directors.

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