Walgreens CEO Rosalind Brewer: the only Black woman chief executive in Fortune 500

It is safe to say Black Girl Magic is taking the world by storm! Rosalind Brewer, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and a Spelman grad, has been appointed as Walgreen’s new CEO, making her the only Black woman currently leading a Fortune 500 company. Brewer is moving to the position at Walgreens from her current position as the CEO of Starbucks. In addition to her new position of CEO of Walgreens, Brewer holds a spot on Amazon’s board of directors, making her the second black woman to hold such a board position at the company. 

Brewer’s trailblazing career began when she graduated from Spelman in 1984. She worked for Kimberly-Clark, the paper manufacturer, for 22 years. With her degree in chemistry, she started her career as a research technician. Frustrated by the lack of control in research and development she moved over to administration. By 2006 she worked her way up to be president for manufacturing and global operations in Kimberly-Clark. Brewer left Kimberly-Clark in 2006 and joined Walmart as regional vice president over operations in Georgia.  From there, she became the division president of Walmart’s Southeast market and a president of Walmart East.

In 2012, Brewer was named President and CEO of Sam’s Club, becoming the first African American to lead a Walmart division. She has focused on health and wellness by doubling the number of organic products offered at Sam’s Clubs and led the development of the company’s curbside pickup service and e-commerce efforts, including introducing a process that allows customers to scan items with their phones in order to speed up checkout. During her time at Sam’s Club, Brewer connected with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who invited her to work for Starbucks but initially, she declined his offer. After retiring from Walmart on February 1, 2017, she accepted the COO role at Starbucks. Brewer, in her position as a chief operating officer and group president at Starbucks, held the second-highest position at the company. 

As of 2016, Brewer is listed as the 57th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. She was also named as one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes earlier in 2013. The magazine named her among the Most Powerful Black Women of 2013. She has been honored by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. The Fortune 500’s Most Powerful Women List of September 15, 2015 issue ranked Brewer 15th. In 2016 she ranked 19th on Fortune‘s annual ranking. It is safe to say she is one of the most prominent Black women business leaders in America.

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