Keisha Sutton-James


AGE: 39


As a child in the mid-1970s, Keisha Sutton-James listened to one of New York City’s biggest and most popular radio stations, 107.5 FM/WBLS. Add to the mix that her grandfather was Percy Sutton — business mogul, social activist and WBLS co-founder who passed away in December 2009 — and Sutton-James seemed destined for a career in broadcast media. She is now vice president at Inner City Broadcasting Holdings (ICBC) Inc., the holding company for the radio station.


Not one to take family connections and the Sutton last name as a guarantee of professional success, Sutton-James studied hard and worked even harder. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Tufts University and an M.B.A. at the Wharton School of Business and worked in sales in the banking industry before settling into her current position. Among other duties, she oversees the strategic planning, budgeting and technical infrastructure for ICBC’s interactive platform, which includes more than a dozen websites, email and mobile marketing initiatives. On a broader scale, she monitors the multimillion-dollar empire her grandfather helped to build in 1971. “As his only grandchild for the first 25 years of my life, I was truly the apple of his eye and he expressed it in a million and one ways,” Sutton-James says. “His love propelled me. His mind was limitless and his spirit was free — never confined by societal expectations. One of the greatest lessons learned from him is to be exactly that.”


Sutton-James, who resides in Harlem with her husband and two daughters, notes that as an African-American woman in a male-dominated industry, she has experienced her share of racism, sexism and other challenges. However, she concludes, when it comes to ensuring her personal and professional success, she alone is responsible. “Only I will keep me from achieving my goals — in my career and life,” she says. 



Book: “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
Favorite sport: Rollerblading
Other languages spoken: Swahili