Brenda Schofield, January 16, 1940-May 22, 2018—A life well lived

AmNews Staff Reports | 5/31/2018, 2:30 p.m.
Brenda Schofield was born to win!
Brenda Schcofield Contributed

Brenda Schofield, January 16, 1940-May 22, 2018—A life well lived

Brenda Schofield was born to win! She was among the first Black women to rise to the top-tiers of corporate America. When honored as a Woman of Distinction by the Greater New York Links, Inc. in 2003, that day’s celebration was of a woman who had captured the attention of the corporate world more than four decades earlier and demonstrated that African-American women, too, had skills and sway, persistence and passion, and were prepared to lead. And Brenda, a serious sports fan, could discuss, analyze and debate team strategy with the best of the boys.

Brenda began her professional career as a social worker, and that training, she often said, prepared her to excel in the corporate world, where she blazed a trail for the many Black women who would follow her. Brenda Schofield rose to the executive ranks at Federated Department Stores, Johnson and Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Levi Strauss, Kraft Foods and Pfizer. Her storied career was primarily dedicated to pushing organizations to not just talk about the business need for diversity, but to demonstrate it. Many of the diversity and inclusion initiatives Brenda and the teams she led created are being implemented today.

Brenda was a visionary corporate leader. However, her greatest joy and deepest commitment were to her family: her 43-year marriage to attorney Ruben Schofield, who preceded her in death, and her only sibling, William Borden, his wife Cassandra and their children.

A natural leader, Brenda loved serving. She was president of the Barristers Wives, co-founder of the National Urban Affairs Council, founder and president of the Black Retail Action Group and founder and general manager of the Corporate Women’s Network, an organization she zealously built to provide coaching and support for younger African-American women entering the ever-challenging corporate and political worlds. Her renowned summit, “Men, Money, Work and Making Them Work Together,” benefited more than 2,500 women internationally. Committed to helping develop future generations of Black leaders, Brenda served as a trustee of Bethune-Cookman College. A world traveler, she defined the art of networking, the importance of nurturing friendships and freeing oneself from doubt, fear and the opinions of others. Brenda lived her philosophy. She was a model of self-confidence, her own person.

Always seeking work-life balance, and an early adopter of self-nurturing, 20 years ago, Brenda convinced dozens of Black women to relieve stress and pamper themselves at luxe spas. Those who she invited to join her at her beloved Rancho La Puerta in Mexico still cherish the love and sisterhood Brenda fostered among them in that sacred, healing setting, where she called herself “Sunny.”

A Renaissance woman, Brenda was a voracious reader, a sports historian and also a seamstress—a skill she learned during summer jobs at Singer Sewing Machine Company. She enjoyed shopping for fabric, designing and making her own clothes—and saving money.

Born in Harlem Jan. 16, 1940, Brenda Alice Borden was the first child born to Grace and William Borden Sr. “I’m a Harlem girl,” she’d often say. She loved her Harlem and was encyclopedic about its rich history. Brenda attended Harlem’s St. Aloysius Schools, where she was educated by the Handmaids of Mary, the nation’s first order of Black Catholic Nuns. She continued her education at Our Lady of Elms College in Chicopee, Mass., earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. A fierce advocate of life-long learning, Brenda enrolled in the Executive MBA Program at Pace University.