Melba J. Duncan's Biography

Melba J. Duncan is the Founder and President of The Duncan Group Inc., a retained search and consulting firm. Since 1985, the firm has been advising CEOs and other corporate leaders regarding specialized senior management support resources.  The firm offers expertise in four practice areas: recruitment, organizational consulting, and “executive level” training for administrative staff, with focus on C-Suite professional assistants.  Ms. Duncan is Founder and CEO of the Duncan Leadership Institute, which offers a targeted curriculum solution for multiple tiers of administrative support staff.


From 1976 to 1985, Ms. Duncan was Assistant to The Hon. Peter G. Peterson, Founder of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Chairman Emeritus and Co-Founder of The Blackstone Group, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb Incorporated, and former Secretary of Commerce.  In her prior position, she was Assistant to Sanford C. Bernstein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., a New York Stock Exchange member firm, where she was elected Corporate Secretary and became a stockholder.

Ms. Duncan is an experienced public speaker.  She has conducted extensive workshops on the issues of women in business, career and personal development.  For three years, she was a keynote speaker at the American Management Association’s Annual Conference for Executive Secretaries & Administrative Assistants. In 2003, 2004 and 2005, Ms. Duncan served as chairperson for the Marcus Evans Executaries Forums, which were held in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Toronto, and Montreal.  In November 2006, and October 2007, Miss Duncan delivered the Keynote address to the EA&PA Congress Series in Sydney, Australia, and Adelaide, Australia, respectively.  In April and May 2008, Ms. Duncan served as Keynote for the EA/PA Congress in Melbourne, Australia.  In April 2008, during Administrative Professionals’ Week, Ms. Duncan served as Keynote and Conference Host for the Bermuda Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.  In October 2009, Ms. Duncan was a keynote at the 17th Annual Administrative Professionals Conference in Orlando, FL. In March 2010, Melba was a presenter at the World Bank, Washington DC, responding to the topic “Shaping your future: Maintaining your competitiveness.”

Ms. Duncan served as the 2006 National Spokesperson for Swingline, Acco Brands, Inc. She presided over the Swingline 2006 search for Admin Pro of the Year. Ms. Duncan has appeared on various television broadcasts to discuss the work of The Duncan Group and the changing role of executive assistants.   She is author of How to Succeed in Business as an Executive Assistant (Macmillan, 1990), The New Executive Assistant: Advice for Succeeding as an Executive or Administrative Assistant, (McGraw-Hill, 1997), and The Idiot’s Guide to African American History (Pearson Education, Inc., 2003).  Ms. Duncan’s most recent book projects are Indispensability, an overview of career survival strategies in the new economy, and The Handbook of Assistants’ Best Practices, both scheduled to be published in 2011. She has also authored numerous articles, including The Case for Executive Assistants, featured in the May, 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review.

The company has been featured in foreign and domestic publications, including Inc. Magazine in September 1999, the February 3, 2003 issue of Investment Dealer's Digest, and the New York Times article entitled "Working for Top Bosses on Wall St. has its Perks," dated February 5, 2005.  The company is profiled in Management Principles and Practices for Tomorrow's Leaders, Revised 3rd Edition, by Gary Dessler, Florida International University (Houghton Mifflin 2007).

Ms. Duncan attended Queens College and New York University, where she majored in clinical psychology and law.  She attended the New York Institute of Finance, and in 1969 was approved by the New York Stock Exchange and the National Association of Securities Dealers as a Registered Representative.  She received one of the first Women of Vision Awards from the National Organization for Women, honoring women entrepreneurs, and the 1993 Women of the Year Congressional Award, for leadership, achievements and inspiration to women. Ms. Duncan was selected as a winner of the Crain’s 2000 Small Business Award, and was featured in Crain's October 2000 Special Reports.

In 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007, Ms. Duncan served as “Principal for a Day,” a joint program of the New York City Board of Education and PENCIL, designed to involve prominent members in the community in public education.  She was a founding member and President of The Madam C. J. Walker Foundation.  She is a member of The Seraphic Society and The National Association of Professional Women.  She is an avid reader, physical fitness enthusiast, and theater and opera fan.