Mellody Hobson was named by Starbucks Corp. to lead its board as chairwoman, making her one of the highest-profile Black directors in corporate America.
Ms. Hobson, co-chief executive officer of Ariel Investments, replaces Myron Ullman, who's retiring. The transition will occur in March. Mr. Ullman was named chairman and Ms. Hobson vice chairwoman in 2018 when longtime Starbucks leader Howard Schultz stepped down from the coffee chain.
"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," Ms. 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."
Ms. Hobson's promotion comes at a time when the top ranks of the biggest U.S. companies are still largely dominated by white men. The representation of women and people of color in U.S. companies has come under increasing scrutiny this year, especially following calls for social justice after the death of George Floyd in May. As pressure mounts for companies to improve the diversity of their leadership ranks, a number have moved in recent months to add Black women to their boards — sometimes for the first time.