Heavens to Betsy (DeVos)

By Kristen Bellstrom
May 11, 2017

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Betsy DeVos gets booed, Stitch Fix is booming, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders fills in for Sean Spicer. Have a great Thursday.


EVERYONE'S TALKING

• Heavens to Betsy. While commencement ceremonies are usually a familiar slurry of proud parents, teary grads, and inspiring speeches, education secretary Betsy DeVos faced a very different scene when she stepped behind the podium to address the graduates of Bethune-Cookman University yesterday.

When she took the stage, about half of the attending students stood and turned their backs to her and, at points, the hecklers actually drowned out her remarks.

Her invitation to speak at the historically black university in Daytona Beach was controversial from the start, with alumni and others circulating petitions demanding that her invite be revoked and Florida’s NAACP chapter calling on the school’s president to resign. Among their concerns: remarks she made earlier this year calling historically black colleges and universities “pioneers when it comes to school choice.” In fact, the schools were created because black students were not allowed to enroll in predominately white colleges at the time. (DeVos has since walked back the statement.)

To some, DeVos’s critics’ attempts to silence her read as a violation of the First Amendment. But for others, such as 1996 Bethune-Cookman grad Fedrick Ingram, VP of the Florida Education Association, the idea that her appearance was about a free exchange of opposing viewpoints rang false. “A commencement exercise is not a dialogue,” Ingram told CNN. “It’s a monologue.”


ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

• Strength in numbers? The Senate now includes 21 women—the highest number in American history. Yet as the outcry over the all-male group working on the health care bill suggests, the five Republican women have struggled to gain as much influence in the Senate as their Democratic counterparts. The New York Times‘ Jennifer Steinhauer looks into why:  New York Times

• Sizing up. Even as the retail industry struggles, Stitch Fix, the mail-order clothing service led by Katrina Lake, continues to expand. While the company, which recorded sales of $730 million in the fiscal year that ended last July, maintains that it has no plans to go public, this story notes that it is “well positioned to file for an initial public offering as soon as this year.”  New York Times

• Watching Warren. Seven Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries have announced CEO changes in the past year. Among the new chiefs: Kara Raiguel at Gen Re and Melissa Burgess-Taylor at Fruit of the Loom. On the outgoing list, Cathy Baron Tamraz, who retired as CEO of Business Wire. Wall Street Journal

Spicer out, Sanders in. Yesterday’s White House press briefing was led by principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rather than Sean Spicer. Sanders delivered her first press briefing last week. The Hill

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Alaska Airlines has named Annabel Chang VP of the Bay Area. Chang was previously director of public policy at Lyft. Sharon McCollam, former EVP and CFO from Best Buy, has joined the board of Stitch Fix.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

• Meeting of the moms. Michelle Kennedy, a former exec at Badoo (Europe’s version of OkCupid) and early advisor of Bumble, has launched Peanut, an app to help moms connect. New York Times

• An extraordinary finding. A new Chase Bank analysis of more than 200,000 customers finds that a year after an “extraordinary” medical expense, credit card debt jumps for women—but not for men. The study is particularly relevant as Congress considers health care reform, which is likely to increase out-of-pocket costs for many.
Bloomberg

• Venus in heels. Venus Williams has signed a deal with 3 Ball Entertainment to develop—and appear in—an unscripted TV series. The show, called Deals in Heels, focuses on female entrepreneurs. The Hollywood Reporter

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ON MY RADAR

Australian Senator Larisa Waters makes breastfeeding history in Parliament  Fortune

How corporate America sells success in the 21st century (Hint: invite Jessica Alba)  Fortune

The ‘Mayllennials’ are young women who love Theresa May and it’s the most unlikely fandom of 2017  Buzzfeed

8 writers on how the 1980s Anne of Green Gables shaped a generation of young women  Vanity Fair


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