Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is the vice president of public affairs and government relations at The Nielsen Company, one of the country’s biggest market research and media ratings organizations.

Based in Chicago, Pearson-McNeil leads a busy life running in and out of meetings, long hours of traveling, and analyzing data on TV and phone consumption. Yet she’s well-qualified for the job, having more than 20 years of experience in public relations and communication.

Before she was tapped to work in her current role, Pearson-McNeil was the director of station relations at the Chicago NBC affiliate station for nearly five years, and holds an M.B.A.

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is making history … as a rising media executive whose proven track record has made her a recognizable figure in community relations. Her responsibilities include building brand awareness and widening the scope of Nielsen’s philanthropic commitment to multicultural communities.

What’s next for Cheryl?

Pearson-McNeil is busy working in her high-powered position at The Nielsen Company, but still finds time to write a column every other week for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which appears in dozens of newspapers. And she still plans to work after she retires, writing books.

In her own words …

“I’ve learned not to allow others to limit me by putting me into the boxes they feel comfortable having me in. I like to define my own parameters. I define me,” Pearson-McNeil told The Network Journal.

A little-known fact women in executive media positions

Women hold only 3 percent of “clout” positions in mainstream media, according to a 2003 report from the Annenberg Public Policy Center.