Roz Brewer will be leaving Starbucks to innovate healthcare during the coronavirus crisis as she heads to Walgreens.
Roz Brewer is the first woman to serve as Starbucks’ COO. [Credit: Starbucks Stories]

Starbucks executive Rosalind “Roz” Brewer will become the only Black woman to take the reins of a Fortune 500 company after Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. named her CEO.

Brewer, who is known for her successful policy changes and diversity efforts as Chief Operating Officer at the coffee empire, will take on her new role March 15, the Wall Street Journal first reported. She will likely face challenges as the drugstore chain ramps up Covid vaccination efforts and tries to boost sales that have lagged during the pandemic. 

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“I am excited to work alongside the entire [Walgreens Boots Alliance] team as we deliver further innovation and positively impact the lives of millions of people around the world every day,” Brewer said in a statement. “This is especially true today as the company plays a crucial role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The only other Black woman to run a Fortune 500 was Ursula Burns for Xerox, a role that was eliminated due to the company splitting up.

Brewer, a Spelman College alum with a degree in chemistry, worked with Kimberly-Clark Corp. as a scientist for 22 years before heading to Sam’s Club as CEO, and finally landing at Starbucks. 

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Now Brewer will succeed Stefano Pessina, who had only positive words for the company’s pick.

“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,” said Pessina, according to CBSNews.