After 118 years, a female member of the Ford family is set to join the automakers’ board

Alexandra Ford English is about to be the first female member of the Ford family elected to the board of the automaker that the men in her family have run since 1903.Ford English is the 33-year-old daughter of William Clay Ford Jr., the company’s executive chairman. Also poised to join the board is Henry Ford III, 40, son of current director Edsel Ford II, who is retiring from that position.

The cousins are the first great-great-grandchildren of company founder Henry Ford to be board members.The two family members still must be elected by shareholders, but there’s little chance they won’t be. The Ford family has controlled the majority of Ford (F) stock voting shares since it went public in 1956.A Ford family member has been chairman, CEO, or president of the company for all but nearly 20 years of its 118-year history. And there has always been at least one, and more often two Ford men serving on the board.

Women members of the Ford family have served as executives at the company, and women from outside the family have served on its board, including three currently. “I am pleased and proud that we have a new generation of Ford family leaders who believe in serving the company and ensuring it remains a successful and positive force in the world for years to come,” said Bill Ford.

The move was also praised by the United Auto Workers union, which represents hourly US workers at the company. “While UAW members will always have differences at the table with management, there is certainty in knowing that there are members of the board whose corporate decisions are informed by their history not just for short-term performance, but in the interest of the company’s long-term future as well,” said the union.

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