BlackRock named John Kelly, a former senior executive at Microsoft and Starbucks, to oversee public policy and communications as lawmakers continue to scrutinize the world's largest money manager, especially over ESG investing.
Mr. Kelly will start in August as BlackRock's first global head of corporate affairs and also lead the company's branding and philanthropy, CEO Larry Fink said Thursday in a memo to employees.
"The universe of BlackRock stakeholders has grown dramatically," Mr. Fink wrote. That's why the firm has been engaging with policymakers and other community leaders where it operates, along with employees, shareholders and clients, he added.
Mr. Kelly's role will build on that work, according to the memo.
BlackRock has grown into a behemoth of asset management, with $9.1 trillion invested worldwide for pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, high-net-worth individuals and retail clients as of the end of March. The money flowing into equity index funds since the 2008 financial crisis has made BlackRock a top-five shareholder in almost every S&P 500 company.
Mr. Fink's profile has also risen through his annual letters to corporate executives, inviting criticism along the way.
"Particularly in this complex environment, we must ensure that our voice, as a trusted fiduciary for our clients, resonates with all of our stakeholders," Mr. Fink wrote in the memo.
Jim Badenhausen, global head of corporate communications, told Mr. Fink in January that he plans to step back from his current role in 2024 after a dozen years, according to the memo. He'll work with Mr. Kelly during the transition and on a succession plan to fill that role.
Mr. Kelly was most recently senior vice president for brand, communications and corporate affairs at Roku after spending seven years in a similar role at Starbucks. He worked in legal roles at Microsoft for 15 years, including in Brussels overseeing public policy. Earlier in his career, Mr. Kelly was an aide to former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton and former U.S. Representative Rick White, both Republicans from Washington.