Mellody Hobson Will Become Starbucks’ No. 2 When Howard Schultz Steps Down

Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit on Oct. 10, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit on Oct. 10, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Paul Morigi (Getty Images for Fortune)

Well, looks like Starbucks is doing quite a bit more than Race Relations 101 for its employees after that Philadelphia debacle in April; the chain is actually placing a black woman in its leadership ranks.

Mellody Hobson, currently president of Ariel Investments, which manages over $13 billion in assets, will become vice chair at Starbucks when longtime Chairman Howard Schultz steps down at the end of the month, according to a press release from the company.


On Monday, Schultz announced that he will be relinquishing his role as chairman at the company he founded more than 40 years ago. There is speculation that he may be running for political office, including the presidency. He will be honored with the title of chairman emeritus effective June 26.


Hobson, 49, who has been a director on the Starbucks board, will become vice chair when Schultz steps down, and Myron E. Ullman, the former chairman of J.C. Penney, will take over as the company’s new chair.

Black Enterprise reports that Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg credits a comment Hobson made with inspiring her to write her best-seller, Lean In, saying, “She wanted to be unapologetically black and unapologetically a woman.

“My life was altered by meeting her, and that’s not something I say lightly,” Sandberg added, according to BE. “She is such a big part of my path taken. I think she does that for everyone.”

Hobson has served on the boards of various civic organizations, including the Field Museum, the Chicago Public Education Fund and the Sundance Institute, and she promotes financial literacy in the African-American community. BE also reports that she was the first African-American woman to head the Economic Club of Chicago. In addition, she was elected to JPMorgan Chase’s board of directors in March.


Boss up, Mel!

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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For what it’s worth, I don’t really find Starbucks to have a good product aside from whatever politics they are dealing with. It’s not bad, it’s just not worth the price, IMO.

Good for her, but...meh.