Caterpillar’s 95-year legacy has the fingerprints of those who invested their time and talents to make us the industry leader we are today. As we celebrate Black History Month, we recognize the impact made by Black employees: individuals who helped pave the way– a group as diverse as the customers we serve. Join us as we get to know those who made our products, services and solutions possible.
In 1965 Patsy Reeves became the first female employee to work on the factory floor in the Joliet facility, nearly thirteen years after it had opened. Patsy was a pioneer, paving the way for many, by breaking barriers during the height of the Civil and Women Rights movements. It takes tremendous courage to be the first at anything, and because of strong and determined individuals like Patsy, opportunities were changed for generations to come.
“I joined Caterpillar almost 23 years after my Aunt Patsy’s retirement. Upon learning of her ground-breaking experiences, I continue to be proud of the legacy she left behind. I am inspired to hear of the work she did with Caterpillar and proud to share this Black History/Heritage Moment with my teammates and the world. This month as I have reflected on her journey, and my own, I am proud of the impact so many black employees have made.” Paul Starks, Caterpillar Global HR Director.
Duane Livingston was named Vice President of the Corporate Auditing & Compliance Division in 1994, making him the first African American Vice President at Caterpillar. He was a groundbreaker who opened the doors for others to come.
“Duane has created a far-reaching legacy that impacts many areas of the company. His career included assignments around the world,” said former Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Glen Barton. “[Duane’s] contributions include strengthening our internal control environment, creating increased opportunities for Caterpillar in emerging markets, and improving the cost effectiveness of our dealer distribution network. In recent years, his efforts have been instrumental in achieving corporate goals including growth, cost effectiveness and social responsibility.”
Reflecting on his time, Duane said, “There’s no question that Caterpillar is a world leader in the products and services its people produce. But probably less well known is the company’s commitment to social responsibility. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work for a company that is helping to build a better world.” Duane retired from Caterpillar in 2002.
Erica Baird was the first African American female to graduate from the University of Arizona with a degree in mining engineering. Today, she leads a global team that manages over 95 construction equipment manufacturers to ensure quality products and the support of our global dealer network. Erica was a founding member of Caterpillar’s first employee resource group, the Caterpillar African American Network (CAAN), and established Caterpillar’s position as a Board of Corporate Affiliates member with the National Society of Black Engineers. Baird is the recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award and was recognized as one of the 10 Outstanding Young Leaders in 2000 by the Illinois Jaycees.
Erica is heavily involved within her local community where she serves on several boards, has established scholarship programs, is a frequent speaker for community events and was recognized as one of the community’s top leaders by being named one of Peoria, Illinois’ coveted Forty Leaders Under Forty.
Mary Rogers joined Caterpillar as wash tank operator in East Peoria, IL in 1969. Time and time again, she was the highest rated employee in her work area. In 1985 she contributed solutions for cutting costs while maintaining quality to keep Caterpillar competitive. “I always try to do my job as correctly as possible. I had ideas of what procedures were not needed and could be eliminated. It allows us to get more pieces out while keeping the quality just as high, she said.” Mary retired from Caterpillar in 2004 after 35 years of service.
Joshua I. Smith was elected to the Caterpillar Board of Directors in 1993, making him Caterpillar’s first African American board member. Prior to joining Caterpillar’s board, Smith was CEO of the MAXIMA Corporation. As a nationally renowned entrepreneur and lecturer, Smith served as Chairman and Managing Partner of The Coaching Group, Vice Chairman of the Board of Comprehensive Care Corporation, and a member of the board of directors of FedEx Corp. and The Allstate Corporation. Among other honors, he was recognized by the Governor of the state of Maryland as a “Business Legend”. Smith retired from the Caterpillar Board of Directors in 2013.
Dontae was recruited by Caterpillar as an engineer during his studies at Tuskegee University, a predominant historically Black university, over 20 years ago. Dontae serves as a District Manager in Minneapolis. In this leadership role, Dontae works directly with dealers to help them better serve their customers and grow their business. Dontae credits his success to leaders who pushed him to get firsthand feedback that his work his truly helping the end-user. It was a mindset that guided him through his journey with CAAN where he grew the skills needed for his career. From member, to chapter leader, to vice chair, to board member, Dontae helped develop fellow CAAN members, which strengthened the group and the enterprise.
Henry Warfield made his contributions at the East Peoria Foundry starting in 1942. Just a year later he would become Army Private Henry M. Warfield.
Known as the soldier with the big smile, he shipped out to basic training in La Junta, Colorado and after his military service ended, returned to the Foundry. Henry then began his career in politics, where he was elected to several roles in public office. Henry was instrumental in the passage of a state fair-housing law that would make it a violation of law to refuse to sell, lease or rent property on the base of race, creed, color or ancestry. Through his involvement, Henry represented Caterpillar and the local union, both of whom endorsed the passage of this bill at the Illinois State Capitol.
Caterpillar’s strength lies within the power of our people. As we celebrate Black History Month, we are proud of the doers who have walked the halls throughout time and are eager to continue our legacy of quality and innovation backed by the best team. Are you ready to do the work that matters? Search and apply today.
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