Lisa Wardell, Chairman and CEO of Adtalem Global Education Inc. — a $3 billion for-profit education business and the largest public U.S. company with an African American female CEO — has been appointed to the Board of Directors and Risk Committee at American Express, according to Business Wire.

“Lisa has extensive experience leading large-scale business transformations, and successfully executing portfolio repositionings in the financial services sector through strategic partnerships, business development and mergers and acquisitions,” Stephen J. Squeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express said in a statement. “She also brings her strong expertise in implementing and advancing diversity at global companies, along with her prior regulatory and investment experience, all of which will be key assets for our Board.”

The businesswoman grew up in a middle class household in the Washington D.C. area. She entered the workforce at 13-years-old selling sneakers at Athlete’s Foot to help her family make ends meet, according to The Washington Post.

Wardell learned to manage the store as a teenager and developed valuable skills that helped her later in her career. 

“These experiences allowed me to realize, over time, that my background is an advantage, not a disadvantage,” Wardell said.

Wardell graduated from Vassar College and Stanford Law School before serving as the only African American woman CEO in the Standard & Poor’s mid-cap 400 index, according to The Washington Post.

She also serves as board member for Lowe’s Companies Inc., THINK450, National Basketball Players Association. In addition, Wardell is a member of the Executive Committee of The Business Council, The Executive Leadership Council, and CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion