Starbucks Selects New Board Chair as It Reimagines Its Future

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Mellody Hobson

Starbucks New Board Chair Mellody Hobson with her husband George Lucas at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. Editorial credit: Denis Makarenko /

Starbucks has named Mellody Hobson as the Non-Executive Chair of the company’s Board of Directors. Hobson will take the reins from her longtime colleague Myron E. Ullman, III in March 2021, alongside the Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders.

Ullman, who is retiring, has served on Starbucks’ board since 2003 and been its chair since 2018.

Hobson is no stranger to the coffeehouse and roastery chain, as she has served on the company’s board for the last 15 years and stepped up to vice chair in 2018. Her promotion to chair will cement her position one of the highest-profile black board directors in the US.

In addition to her seat on Starbucks’ board, the Princeton alum also sits on the board of JPMorgan Chase and previously served as the chair of DreamWorks Animation. Though her main focus is her role as the co-CEO of Ariel Investments, a global value-based asset management firm where she is responsible for the management, strategic planning, and growth for the company outside of research and portfolio management. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of the company’s publicly traded mutual funds and spent nearly two decades as the firm’s President.

In a press release, Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ chairman emeritus stated, “Mellody has been a trusted advisor to me and the company for more than 20 years. 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 said she was “thrilled and honored to take on the role.” She went on to say, “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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