Career ladder: Fox, 62, has 30 years' experience as a corporate and restructuring attorney and executive advisor to CEOs and boards. She joined DuPont in October 2014. Previously, she was deputy emergency manager of the city of Detroit, helping to guide the city through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. She served under Kevyn Orr, who was her classmate at University of Michigan law school. One of the few women in development in Southeast Michigan, Fox is the co-founder of Detroit-based real estate development firm The Roxbury Group. Fox also has worked as general counsel for Sunoco Inc., Johnson Controls Inc. and Visteon Corp. She splits her time between Detroit and Wilmington, Del., DuPont's headquarters. "That was part of the deal when I took the DuPont job," she said.
Power metrics: Projects for the Roxbury Group, which Fox co-founded in 2005, include the $94.5 million renovation of the David Whitney Building and the $12.8 million redevelopment of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure Center. DuPont is a $25 billion international corporation, and Fox leads its legal and corporate communications divisions, with 350 employees worldwide. In December, DuPont and Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. announced they would merge in a more than $130 billion deal.
Board/community connections: Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Fox to the Detroit Financial Review Commission, part of the city's exit from bankruptcy for financial oversight in the "grand bargain" legislation. She is a member of the Downtown Detroit Partnership's executive committee and board and the founder and donor advisor of the Detroit of Tomorrow Fund, which provides grants to nonprofits aimed at bettering Detroit.
Super power: "Really being able to envision an outcome that isn't readily apparent, as well as the path for getting there." Example: Redeveloping the Whitney building, which had been vacant for a decade when Roxbury purchased it in 2010. "Many say it's (architect) Daniel Burnham's finest building. It has this incredible gilded four-story atrium and a terra cotta rotunda with amazing detail. We saw that and knew it needed to be a public space again, a gathering place for tourists and locals to enjoy, so we put a 136-room hotel and retail on the first nine stories, with residences above. To be able to see that possibility in 2010, before the scales had really tipped in terms of development downtown and when financing any new development was a challenge, let alone a hotel — that's the super power."
Biggest setback: "Without question, to this day there is one that when I think about it, I still have a visceral OMG reaction. Our first Roxbury Group development was the Griswold — 80 planned condos built above a 10-story parking deck next to the Book Cadillac — that in 2007-2008 collapsed under the weight of the Great Recession. It could've been a moment that we said we don't have the stamina for this. But we held on. We worked with the city during construction of the parking deck to assure that it was built to support condominiums on top, and maintained the air rights until things improved." When completed late this year, its 80 apartments will be the first new-construction apartments in Detroit's central business district since 1992.
I recently learned to: "Love bourbon. I didn't like it; I was more of a clear alcohol drinker my entire adult life. But my business partners love bourbon, so I tried it again and now really enjoy it."
Surprising fact: "I'm probably the only person in the country who lives both on Grand Circus Park in Detroit and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia" on the East Coast. The two urban parks share a very similar history, size and feel, Fox says. "Both parks are pastoral, green and beautiful and used for less active programming like music."
Changes in how women wield power in your industry over the last 10 years: "… The fact that I have reported to two female CEOs in the last 10 years as general counsel at two Fortune 100 companies certainly indicates there's something good going on."
Next big goal: "Closing the Dow-DuPont $120 billion merger. It's taking up most of my DuPont days for sure. It is truly a unique transaction, but we're on track to get the deal closed in last quarter of this year."
Advice for women seeking success: "First, I would say figure what success means to you. If it's in business, then seek out the very best people and companies or firms to work at and work harder than anybody else. … All of a sudden, the whole work-life balance started taking over the dialogue, and women were so focused on finding it. Some of my women attorneys ask, 'How do I become general counsel working three days a week?' You don't. I mean, all of us in business, our kids have stories about the time we were late picking them up or worked all the time on vacations, but we didn't torture ourselves. … Just be honest about what you really want, set appropriate goals and feel good about what you're achieving!"
Jennette SmithHere's how we produced this special section.
Jennette SmithWe view all of our honorees over the years as part of a "legacy list," some of whom should be considered as prospects for corporate and nonprofit board service.
Vickie ElmerNot that they have a lot of free time, but when they do, here's how the 100 Most Influential Women fill it.
Sherri WelchThe new study by Grand Valley State University of Fortune 500 boards shows a correlation between board diversity and healthier profits, and Michigan companies have ample opportunity to improve board diversity, the study's co-author says.
Staff Blog | Jennette SmithI've been living and breathing this project for months and got by with a little help from my friends in the newsroom and at companies across the state.
Staff Blog | Mary KramerThat's why Crain's Detroit Business has joined with the Michigan Women's Commission and Deloitte, among others, to create a path to help more companies find talent for their boards.
Crain's Detroit BusinessIn an effort to boost women's representation on for-profit corporate boards, Crain's Detroit Business on Tuesday night launched the Michigan Women's Directory. The launch coincided with the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan recognition event that was attended by about 700 people.