Kim Quillen Chicago Tribune
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) On Monday, Starbucks tapped Mellody Hobson to chair its board of directors. Kim Quillen introduces us to this phenomenal woman who has been breaking barriers for decades.
Hobson, 51, is best known in Chicago for her role as co-CEO at Ariel Investments and her marriage to George Lucas, the director and producer who created “Star Wars.” She joined the Starbucks board 15 years ago and has served as vice chair since 2018. Hobson will become nonexecutive chair in March at the company’s annual meeting, succeeding the retiring Myron E. Ullman III.
Here’s what you should know about Hobson:
—She’s a businessperson. Hobson began her career at Ariel Investments, a Chicago investment firm, as an intern. She climbed the ranks and now serves as the firm’s co-CEO and president. She is also chairman of the board of trustees of Ariel Investment Trust, the company’s publicly traded mutual funds. In 2017, Hobson became the first African American woman to chair the Economic Club of Chicago.
—She has a Star Wars connection. Hobson married Lucas in 2013, at Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in California. The couple founded the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which will open in 2022 in Los Angeles. The museum will house Lucas’ collection of digital, traditional and narrative art.
The museum had been proposed for Chicago’s lakefront, but the project became mired in months of controversy after the group Friends of the Parks filed a lawsuit blocking construction. In 2016, Lucas and Hobson abandoned plans to build the museum in Chicago and began focusing on California. Hobson is a board member of the George Lucas Education Foundation.
—A dorm at Princeton will be named after her. Princeton University announced last month that a residential hall it is rebuilding will be renamed for Hobson, who graduated from the Ivy League school in 1991. Hobson will be the first Black woman to have her name on a freshmen residential hall at Princeton. The dorm was previously named for Woodrow Wilson, but the university decided earlier this year to remove Wilson’s name because of his support for segregation. Hobson attended high school at Chicago’s St. Ignatius College Prep.
—She’s no stranger to boards. In addition to the Starbucks board, Hobson is a director of JPMorgan Chase and a past director of Estée Lauder Cos. She chaired the DreamWorks Animation board until the company’s sale.
Hobson also holds leadership positions with a number of foundations and nonprofits. She is chair of After School Matters, a Chicago nonprofit that offers summer and after-school programs to teens, and vice chair of World Business Chicago, the city’s economic development arm.
Hobson is a trustee for The Rockefeller Foundation and a member of the Investment Company Institute’s executive committee. She also serves on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
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