Angela Burt-Murray

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Editor-in-Chief, Essence Magazine
New York City. Age: 37

As editor-in-chief of Essence, the sterling lifestyle magazine that tackles issues relevant to Black women, Angela Burt-Murray plays an important role in shaping the texture and focus of a publication that boasts a monthly circulation of 1,066,245 and a readership of 7 million. She previously worked at Essence from 1998-2001 but left to join Honey magazine as executive editor, where she remained until 2003. She was named features director for Teen People in April 2003, only to be promoted to executive editor in October of the same year. She rejoined Essence in 2005.

Burt-Murray earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Hampton University. She was the first member of her family to graduate from college. Her journey would not have been possible without the guidance of a circle of supporters, she asserts. She lauds her parents “for always believing in my dreams and giving me opportunities to achieve my dreams”; her husband Leonard, whom she describes as her “biggest cheerleader”; and Essence editorial director Susan Taylor “for blazing a trail for Black women in media.” Her most challenging and rewarding responsibilities come from being a mother to her two sons, Solomon and Ellison, she says.

In addition to the demands of being a wife, mother and influential career woman, Burt-Murray finds the time to serve on the board of Safe Horizons, a domestic violence awareness organization. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, which advocates on behalf of African-American professional journalists, and of the American Society of Magazine Editors. One of her dreams is to relocate her family for a couple of years to Johannesburg, South Africa, a city she considers the most beautiful place in the world. One of her favorite keep-it-real expressions is: ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I,’ which her grandmother, Sadye Davis, was fond of repeating.

While striking a balance between career and family, Burt-Murray has found the time to write two books: the humorous The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life, and The Vow, which she co-authored with Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller.