Corlis Murray received SWE's Advocating Women in Engineering Award for driving diversity in STEM at work and in the community; for managing change with clarity and compassion; and for making a positive, enduring impact on every life she touches.
Corlis Murray is senior vice president, quality assurance, regulatory and engineering services at Abbott, a Fortune 150 global health care company. Murray’s appointment in 2012 to this post marked a number of firsts: She was the first African-American to lead Abbott’s corporate quality organization; the first African-American woman to serve as senior vice president in the company; and the first African-American in Abbott’s history to report directly to the CEO. She oversees corporate policy around regulations and works with Abbott businesses to ensure compliance with local, federal, and international regulations. She also anticipates, tracks, and responds to emerging issues.
Murray joined Abbott in 1989 and has held management positions in quality, operations, and engineering in Abbott’s diagnostics and nutrition businesses. As chair of the Engineering Executive Council from 2009 to 2010, she was the first African-American and the first woman to serve in this capacity. She has been involved with key engineering development moves and new product launches, and has provided leadership on executive crisis-management teams, including for the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
Convinced that young people need to see people who look like them in the professions that interest them, Murray works both inside and outside of Abbott to encourage and empower young women and minorities to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. She is a founding member of Abbott’s Women Leaders in Action, an organization that has supported the careers of thousands of employees. She is a tireless mentor and has coached countless students, colleagues, and Abbott employees, contributing her time, expertise, and counsel to help them thrive at work and create the careers they want. She has built on Abbott’s relationship with Howard University and forged new connections with the HBCU, establishing the Adopted Engineer program. Murray also serves as Abbott’s executive mentoring program sponsor to North Carolina A&T State University, the nation’s largest HBCU.
In 2012, Murray launched Abbott’s high school STEM internship program, which targets students from groups that are underrepresented in technical fields. The program enables young people to work side by side with Abbott engineers on real engineering projects and apply their academic training. So far, 88 young people have participated in the program, and 97 percent have pursued STEM degrees or landed STEM jobs. Last summer, two-thirds of interns were young women, and nearly 60 percent were minorities.
The recipient of many awards and honors, Murray has been named to Black Enterprise’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list twice, recognized by the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award by the Boy Scouts of America Northeast Illinois Council for mentoring, and named Black Engineer of the Year Award Program Scientist of the Year. She sits on the Clara Abbott board of directors and on several Abbott executive committees.
Prior to joining Abbott, Murray worked at Recognition Equipment and Xerox Corporation.
She holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Murray enjoys spending time with family, supporting grandchildren’s activities, long walks with her husband, supporting her church and community, and encouraging youth as they attend or prepare to attend college.
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