February 18, 2023 – Marvin Ellison, An Example of Black Excellence

Marvin Ellison

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lowe’s is a Black man, Marvin Ellison. He runs a company that brings in almost $100 billion in annual revenues and has over 300,000 associates.

Marvin Ellison was born and raised in Brownsville, TN.  His father did not finish high school, but his parents said, “don’t let your current circumstances define your future. Education unlocks doors and can lead you out of poverty.”  Ellison earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis and a Master of Business Administration from Emory’s University.

Marvin worked as a janitor, truck driver, warehouse operator and convenience store clerk. He became a security guard at Target making $4.35/hour.[1] He stayed at Target and was curious about the retail operations.  He sought opportunities to work in different departments and worked his way up to vice president of one of the departments.

He went to Home Depot.  After 12 years, he became Vice President of US stores for Home Depot. J.C. Penney picketed him to be their Chairman. He says he identifies with the customers because his mother could stretch a dollar.

As CEO of Lowe’s, he updated their platforms, invested in their full- and part-time employees, made them eligible to enroll in over 50 academic programs at 23 universities and education providers to obtain their degrees at no costs to them.  Lowe’s provides up to $2,500 in annual tuition payments. He also has a track to the trades program for associates to gain apprentice certificates in skilled trades.

Ellison selects schools including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to better provide access to education for their programs. Lowe’s has donated more than $17 million to HBCUs through their contributions to UNCF, Thurgood Marshall Fund, Tennessee State University, North Carolina Central University and Paul Quinn College.[2]

Since 2018 he has invested over $2 billion in incremental wage and equity programs for frontline associates. He has supported many minority small business owners in 2020 and contributed $25 million to help diverse business owners reopen during COVID. He encourages diversity in the workplace.


[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/lowes-ceo-marvin-ellison-life-career-2019-2

[2] https://corporate.lowes.com/newsroom/stories/serving-communities/lowes-gives-9m-further-support-underserved-students-seeking-higher-education

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