Mellody Hobson — the co-chief executive officer of Ariel Investments LLC who has served as the Starbucks vice chair of the executive board since 2018 — has been appointed as the coffee company’s next non-executive chair of the board of directors starting in March 2021, Starbucks announced Wednesday. When she assumes the board chair position, she will be the only Black woman chairing a Fortune 500 company.
Hobson first joined the board as an independent director in 2005, and will succeed Myron (Mike) E. Ullman, III., who is retiring in March. She will assume the board chair position in conjunction with the Starbucks annual shareholders’ meeting in March.
“Mellody has been a trusted advisor to me and the company for more than 20 years,” Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO and chairman emeritus, said in a statement. “She is a fearless leader defined by her grace and wisdom. She has long embraced the purpose of Starbucks and along with the leadership team, will continue to reimagine Starbucks future through the foundation of its past. My heart is full and thankful that Starbucks will have Mellody’s leadership as chair.”
Hobson currently serves as chair of Chicago nonprofit for teens After School Matters, and she is vice chair of World Business Chicago, co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and a board member of the George Lucas Education Foundation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is also a member of the Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute. In 2015, Time Magazine named her one of the “100 Most Influential People” in the world.
“Over nearly two decades, I have seen the company continue to elevate and transform its business – adapting to various market environments and evolving consumer trends,” Hobson said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the board and talented leadership team on accelerating our strategy, supporting our valued partners, and continuing to create significant value for all of our stakeholders.”
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