Global Nonprofit FIRST Welcomes Diverse Leaders to FIRST Board of Directors

Board of directors for Leading Robotics Community Adds FedEx President Raj Subramaniam, and barrier breaking CEO, Ursula Burns

MANCHESTER, N.H, August 14, 2020 FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, today announced the election of two new members to the FIRST board of directors.

The new members elected to the FIRST board of directors are Ursula Burns, former Xerox and VEON CEO, and Raj Subramaniam, President and Chief Operating Officer, FedEx Corp.

“We are honored to welcome two diverse leaders with vast experience across important industries to the FIRST board of directors,” said Kelly Ortberg and Bob Tuttle, FIRST Board Co-Chairs. “Their collective expertise, proven leadership, unique perspectives, and passion for the FIRST mission will support the sustainability of our organization during these unprecedented times. Together with our existing valued Board members, they enhance our ability to inspire even more students all over the world with our programs and build a more diverse and innovative STEM workforce.“

Commenting on the appointments, FIRST Founder Dean Kamen said “These are two great additions to our Board. Ursula helped FIRST grow dramatically and she has come back to help again. Raj has a great appreciation of FIRST’s impact and FedEx is a great supporter.”

FIRST welcomes two outstanding industry leaders with a proven commitment to FIRST’s values and objectives,” said Larry Cohen, President, FIRST. “Today’s challenges require the best minds and the best leaders – we are very fortunate to have their help.”

The FIRST board of directors is comprised of a cross section of leaders from business, government, education and the sciences that have the fiduciary responsibility to provide strategic direction and organizational oversight for all activities of FIRST. The Governance Committee of the FIRST board of directors periodically reviews candidates to nominate individuals who will bring the most to the organization and the Board in terms of experience and expertise to support the longer-term strategic objectives of FIRST.

FIRST Board Members newly appointed in 2020 are:

Ursula Burns, retired Chairman and CEO, Xerox

Ursula Burns

A veteran of corporate evolution, Ursula Burns was named chairwoman of VEON in 2017 and retired from this role in early 2020. Before that, she established herself as one of the most successful female executives in the United States as she steadily advanced through the ranks at the Xerox Corporation. Her 35-year Xerox career culminated in her being named President in 2007, CEO in 2009, Chairman and CEO in 2010 and retiring in 2017. She is the first Black woman to lead an S&P 500 company.

Xerox is a Founding Sponsor of FIRST and Burns joined FIRST’s Board in 2000, stepping down in 2017. She is a founding member of Change the Equation, a CEO-led nonprofit program to boost STEM education, launched by the Obama administration in 2010.

Burns serves on the boards of Uber, Nestle and ExxonMobil. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.

Raj Subramaniam, President, Chief Operating Officer and Director, FedEx Corp.Raj Subramaniam

Raj Subramaniam is President and Chief Operating Officer and Director of FedEx Corp. In this role, Subramaniam oversees the FedEx portfolio of operating companies, which include FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Services, FedEx Logistics and FedEx Office, and more than 500,000 team members. He is also Co-President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of FedEx Services.

Prior to assuming his role as President and Chief Operating Officer and Director of FedEx Corp., Subramaniam was President and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company. In this position, Subramaniam oversaw the FedEx Express Global network, which services more than 220 countries and territories and provides time-sensitive, air-ground express service through more than 650 airports worldwide. Subramaniam has held several other roles through his rich history at FedEx, which began when he joined the Marketing team in Memphis in 1991.

Subramaniam received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. He earned two postgraduate degrees: A Master of Science in chemical engineering from Syracuse University and an MBA from the University of Texas. FedEx is a FIRST Strategic Partner and was awarded the Founder’s Award during the 2019 FIRST Championship, which honors an organization for exceptional service in advancing the ideals and mission of FIRST. Subramaniam was there in person to receive that award on behalf of FedEx.

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About FIRST®  
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $80 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; and FIRST® LEGO® League Discover, Explore and Challenge for Grades K-8. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to