Rhonda Joy McLean
Associate General Counsel • Time Inc. • New York, N.Y
Rhonda Joy McLean often says “no” in her position as associate general counsel for Time Inc., a Time Warner company. When she says this, it means rejecting a promotional or marketing project valued at millions of dollars. “Even though my job is as the consumer protection advocate and I get to say ‘no,’ I have to explain why and try to find ways to reshape my denial so that, hopefully, the person denied leaves my office with more than they came for,” she says.
Moreover, with more than 700 privacy laws pending in several states, it is impossible for her to take them all into consideration at the same time, she explains. Her decisions, therefore, must be made from an overview perspective. “I have to think creatively,” she says.
Before joining Time, McLean for nine years was an assistant regional director for the Federal Trade Commission, where she prosecuted individuals and corporations for deceptive business practices or violations of anti-trust laws. Born in Chicago, she was raised in a small town in North Carolina where, at the age of 13, she found herself at the forefront of school integration tensions. At her school, she was met by armed police and taunts from white students. Undaunted, she went on to graduate from North Carolina A&T State University and Yale Law School.
She credits her strength primarily to the influence of her family, especially her parents and grandparents from whom she received her guiding principles, she says.
McLean has received numerous awards and accolades. She is a member of the Greater New York Chapter of The Links Inc., the international service organization for professional Black women. She has been a featured speaker on many panels and mentors other professional women, advising them to work hard and to explore various avenues to progress.
“I’ve thought of the saying ‘may the work I’ve done speak for me’ a lot over the years and I’ve seen that a number of people only think of promoting themselves. I want people to understand that my word is my bond. I’m not a ‘yes woman’,” she says.