Katharine Graham who had worked in the editorial and circulation departments of the Washington Post, became owner of the newspaper upon the death of her husband Philip Graham in 1963. She served as publisher from 1969 until 1979, and from 1973 until 1991 as Board Chair and CEO. In 1965, she hired Benjamin Bradlee as editor of the Washington Post and together they developed a staff of reporters and editors that moved the paper into the top ranks of American newspapers. Mrs. Graham remained Chair of the Board until her death in 2001.
“To love what you do and feel that it matters ‚ how could anything be more fun?” said Katharine Graham, when she led the Washington Post. Considered to have been one of the most influential women in the United States, Graham’s courageous decisions to publish the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret government study of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam – after the New York Times had been court ordered not to do so, and to proceed with the Watergate investigation earned her a reputation as a courageous, fair and thorough journalist. She was committed to giving readers full access to important information.
As a businesswoman, Mrs. Graham led the Washington Post Company into a conglomerate of newspaper, broadcast, cable, and magazine properties. She believed that editorial excellence and profitability were interrelated. She served on numerous philanthropic boards and received countless awards in recognition of her accomplishments as a journalist, publisher, woman, and entrepreneur.
In 1998, Katharine Graham won the Pulitzer Prize for biography with her reminiscence, Personal History. Her story and actions stand as an example for all women that anything is possible. Describing herself as originally a shy, insecure woman, unprepared for the responsibilities she inherited, she became successful and one of the most powerful women of the century.