Cynthia Marshall, who has become one of the state's most visible business and civic leaders as head of AT&T's operations in North Carolina, is battling colon cancer.
Marshall learned of her diagnosis two weeks ago and is taking an indefinite medical leave from her job as president of AT&T North Carolina.
"Ms. Marshall’s prognosis is good and she is thankful for the excellent physicians and medical facilities with which North Carolina is blessed," AT&T spokesman Clifton Metcalf said in a prepared statement. "As those who have experienced this disease know, the treatments will be taxing."
Sylvia Russell, president of AT&T Georgia, will support Marshall's leadership team in this state during her leave, Metcalf said.
Marshall, who also serves as the first African-American chairwoman of the N.C. Chamber, lives in Cary with her husband Kenneth and their three teenagers. She came came to North Carolina in 2007 after AT&T promoted her to run its operations in this state.
Since arriving here, she has contributed her time to a wide range of causes related to education and diversity, including working with the General Assembly's Committee on Dropout Prevention and the N.C. Conference for Women. She also has served on various boards, including the N.C. Museum of Art and UNC Wilmington.
As one of the state's top businesswomen, Marshall also is in high demand as a speaker. In May 2009, she gave the commencement address at Peace College.
On Monday, she was scheduled to be master of ceremonies at the Economic Forecast Forum sponsored by the chamber and the N.C. Bankers Association. Her friend Billie Redmond, a Raleigh real-estate executive, took her place.
"She is an extraordinary woman in many ways," Redmond said. "She will tell how she got out of the projects, where she grew up with a Bible in one hand and a math book in the other. She's a huge proponent of education and of children.
"She has a huge job at AT&T and she's earned where she is," Redmond added. "She's very savvy politically. But she's sincere and when you talk to her, you know she's really listening. She's go genuine and so real."