JANICE D. STONEY former Executive Vice President, US WEST Communications Group, Inc. (telephone communications; retired 1992). Whirlpool director since 1987 (except for part of 1994 during a bid for political office) and director of The Williams Companies, Inc.
Janice Stoney was the first woman to lead Northwestern Bell, which was a five-state, 15,000-employee, Omaha-based company at the time of her appointment as CEO in 1986.Northwestern Bell was a predecessor of U S West and Qwest.
Before she became the phone company's top officer, Stoney held 17 other jobs in her climb through seven layers of management, according to a 1987 World-Herald story when she was named Midlander of the Year.
Northwestern Bell hired her as a customer service representative in 1959, and she received her first promotion in 1961.
As a personnel manager during the 1970s, Stoney, 69, became involved in labor negotiations and represented the company in resolving employee grievances.
Her promotion into middle management came two years before AT&T's 1973 affirmative action consent-decree pledge to meet targets in promoting women and minorities.
Until about 1970, she has said, she didn't plan to make the phone company her career. She intended to quit, go to college and then medical school and become a doctor. But she was always being promoted to a new job, and the time never was right.
In 1985, Stoney became chief operating officer, the company's No. 2 position. She became president the following year.
Stoney retired as executive vice president of quality for U S West in 1992.
She was the Republican nominee for the Senate seat that Bob Kerrey won in 1994. She was an early favorite to seek the party's nomination in the 1998 Nebraska governor's race, but she decided not to run.