Katharine Graham led The Washington Post Co. to prominence through her dedication to journalistic integrity and strong business practices. As chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Co. and publisher of The Washington Post, she guided that paper through two of the most important episodes in journalism — the publication of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal. Her decisions as head of The Washington Post influenced the course of history for the nation.
Graham took the helm of the company in 1963 after the suicide of her husband, Philip L. Graham, who for nearly 20 years had run the company. At that time, the family enterprise consisted of the newspaper, Newsweek magazine, and two television stations. Katharine Graham’s leadership saw the company grow to become one of the nation’s major diversified media corporations with newspaper, magazine, television, cable and education businesses. She built a newspaper and media empire that appeals to a broad cross-section of consumers and provides an environment conducive to the advertiser’s message.
Graham was a pioneer for women in business, becoming the first woman to head a Fortune 500 company, the first to serve as a director of the Associated Press and the first female director of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. Her 1997 memoir, which chronicled her extraordinary life and career, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Graham was involved in charitable organizations and causes that contribute to the broader society, especially those that promote education and early childhood development initiatives. She also helped establish programs that recognize and support the efforts of teachers, principals and students.