Roz Brewer Becomes First Black Woman Fortune 500 CEO

Walgreens announced Tuesday (January 26) it has hired Starbucks executive Roz Brewer as its new CEO, making her the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company.

Brewer had previously been the chief operating officer at the coffee giant for a little over three years. According to the Associated Press, Walgreens later confirmed that Brewer will take over the company’s top position on March 15.

Former Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina, whom Brewer is taking over for, praised Brewer’s expertise in operations, talent development and innovation.

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“She is a distinguished and experienced executive who has led organizations globally through periods of changing consumer behavior by applying innovation that elevates customer experiences,” Pessina said, according to the AP.

While at Starbucks, Brewer improved service speed and customer focus as well as revamping store locations and removing clutter. She also pushed for more diversity in the higher ranks of the company.

Brewer expressed excitement over her new CEO position. “I step into this role with great optimism for the future of WBA,” Brewer said in a statement.

Ursula Burns became the first Black woman to run a Fortune 500 company, becoming the CEO of Xerox in 2009. She later lost that role in 2016 when Xerox split into two companies.

There are only a handful of other Black CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, including Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison and Kenneth Frazier at Merck.

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