Jewish women fare well on ‘Forbes’ list

Rosenfeld of Kraft, No. 2, is one of 7 in the rankings.

Irene Rosenfeld, an American Jewish businesswoman who is chief executive of Kraft Foods, came in second place on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most powerful women published this month.
The list, which is headed by first lady Michelle Obama, features several other prominent Jewish women: • Mary Schapiro, the head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (17th), • Elana Kagan, the new Supreme Court justice (25th), • Sarah Jessica Parker, the attractive actress in Sex in The City (45th), • Suze Orman, a personal finance expert, author and TV host (61st), • Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer (66th), and • Donna Karan, the famous fashion designer (96th).
The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that other women on the list had Jewish connections, such as American comedienne Chelsea Handler, whose father was Jewish.
Forbes said that in researching and compiling this year’s list, it “dug deep into business, media, politics and entertainment and lifestyle personalities – and in the process stumbled upon connection after connection among these extraordinary and influential women.
“Many worked together once upon a time; many more were rivals. Some, like [TV host] Oprah Winfrey [3rd] and [Vogue editor-inchief] Anna Wintour [56th], have given platforms to other women.
“Others, like Michelle Obama, have changed the way women like Indra Nooyi [6th] and Irene Rosenfeld run their companies.”
Rosenfeld, who is 57, reportedly earned the second highest salary for women in the United States last year – $26.3 million.
She was born in Brooklyn to a mother whose parents were German Jews and a father whose parents were Romanian-Jewish immigrants.
Rosenfeld earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Cornell University, where she later earned her master’s in business administration and doctorate in marketing and statistics. She lives in Kenilworth, Illinois, and is married with two children.
For the past quarter of a century, she has worked in the food industry, and has served as CEO of Kraft Foods, the largest food and beverage corporation in the US, since 2006. Even before buying the British-based confectionery company, Cadbury, earlier this year for $19.9 billion, Forbes noted, Kraft had “a great portfolio of processed food brands,” including Oreo, Nabisco, Kraft Cheese and Oscar Mayer Meats.
In 2007, Kraft embarked on a five-year restructuring plan, aimed at laying off some 18,600 workers “to wring more value and growth out of those brands,” Forbes reported.
The website Mediabistro pointed out that 18 of the 100 women on the 2010 list were media and publishing personalities. Another website, Kippreport, complained that there were only four Arabs on the list.
There were no Israelis on this year’s list. The only Israeli on the list last year was Efrat Peled, the CEO of the Tel Aviv-based Arison Investments (93rd).
JTA contributed to this report.