Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Valentina (@valzarya) here. I ponder Arianna Huffington’s lack of response to an Uber board member’s sexist joke, Avon’s CEO is rumored to be retiring, and we meet the first Latina CEO in the Fortune 500. Happy Thursday!
• A bolt of energy. In March 1967, five-year-old Geisha Jimenez fled Castro-led Cuba to the U.S. Fifty years later, almost to the day, she made business history, becoming the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Now 55 and known by her married name, Williams, she runs PG&E Corp., the $17.7 billion parent of the venerable Pacific Gas & Electric Co, the utility that powers much of Northern California. I profiled Williams for our Fortune 500 issue and, in reporting the story became—to put it mildly—fascinated by her. And not just because she (like me) is an immigrant and started off school not speaking any English.
Williams is taking over at PG&E a time of accelerating change in her industry. She must deal with aggressive renewables targets—California requires that 50% of utilities’ power be generated by renewable sources by 2030—as well as an increasingly complex energy ecosystem. (Utilities are becoming as important for their ability to receive power from other entities as they are for their ability to produce and distribute their own juice.)
But if anyone can handle change, it’s Williams. She played a crucial role in transforming PG&E’s electricity business into a leader in clean energy. During her tenure as president of the business unit (her role before becoming chief), PG&E connected more solar rooftops and supported more EVs than any other energy company in the U.S. and reached its 2020 target—to generate 33% of its electricity from renewable sources—three years early. Read my full profile of Williams here:
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• The silence is deafening. While a sexist joke made by Uber board member David Bonderman quickly went viral Wednesday, Arianna Huffington, a fellow director who was in the room when it was made, simply laughed it off. It’s a troubling reaction from the woman who has taken a leadership role during the company’s investigation and attempt at cultural reform, and one who has previously said that she was “committed to making whatever changes are necessary” at Uber.
• Avon lady’s leaving? Avon CEO Sheri McCoy is expected to step down after failing to turn around the beleaguered cosmetics retailer, according to WSJ sources. Terms of the chief’s departure are still being worked out and no final decisions have been made; it is not clear who will succeed her.
Wall Street Journal
• Poetess-in-chief. The Library of Congress has named Tracy Smith its new poet laureate, the nation’s highest honor in that field. Smith, who has published three volumes of poetry and collected plenty of prestigious awards (including the Pulitzer Prize), says she plans to take poetry to communities that haven’t had regular access to it.
• Margo’s making moves. Mattel CEO Margo Georgiadis told investors that she would get the ailing toy maker back on track by placing firmer bets on emerging markets, increasing the pace of toy development, and focusing more on the digital play experience. “It is time to reinvent this company because of where the world is headed,” Georgiadis told Fortune’s John Kell in an interview Wednesday.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust will step down next June. EMILY’s List has appointed Emily Cain as its new executive director. President Trump said he would nominate Jessica Rosenworcel to fill a Democratic seat on the Federal Communications Commission. Publicis has appointed Carla Serrano as its new strategy chief and Véronique Weill as general manager.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Harris ‘hysteria.’ CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers called out former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller for his use of the word “hysteria” to describe Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) interrogation of AG Jeff Sessions during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. Powers fired back: “How was Sen. Kamala Harris hysterical?” She then pointed out that she behaved similarly to another (male) Senator, but that in Miller’s view, “he wasn’t hysterical, she was.”
• At least they’re trying? Fox News parent 21st Century Fox has launched a new women’s initiative. Called Women@Fox, it aims to help women gain skills and/or mentorship to allow them to rise through the ranks. A launch day panel featured 20th Century Fox Film chairman and CEO Stacey Snider and Fox Television chairman and CEO Dana Walden.
• Yellen’s not sayin’. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen dodged a question about whether she would serve a second term at the helm of the central bank if asked to stay on by President Donald Trump. “I have not had conversations with the president about future plans,” she said.
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ON MY RADAR
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New York Times