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American Women Head to U.S. Open Finals, How Roz Brewer Got Her Job, What Betsy DeVos’s Announcement Means

Sep 08, 2017

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Betsy DeVos weighs in on how to handle sexual assault on campus, the U.S. Open women's finals will feature two Americans not named Williams, and we get the inside story on how Roz Brewer landed her new job. Have a wonderful weekend.

EVERYONE'S TALKING

•  Brewer meets brewer. Today's first story comes to you from my colleague Beth Kowitt, who has the scoop on how Roz Brewer—who was until recently CEO of Sam's Club, Walmart’s warehouse club division—landed her new gig as COO of Starbucks. Beth writes:  

Roz Brewer had long been one of the most powerful—and most respected—women in retail. So no surprise that industry insiders have been watching closely to see where she would land post-Sam's Club. They got their answer this week: Starbucks announced that Brewer would join the company, where she is already a board member, as chief operating officer. She’s the first woman and first African-American to hold such a high position at the coffee giant.

Brewer and Kevin Johnson, Starbucks' CEO, spent an hour with me yesterday talking about how she got the job and what it will entail. It turns out that Brewer’s first step toward the new role happened completely by chance. It was the end of 2016, and Starbucks’ then-CEO Howard Schultz was visiting Walmart's headquarters for a panel discussion with CEO Doug McMillon. But at the last minute, McMillon had to cancel so Brewer stepped in. She and Schultz "were probably on stage for about 90 minutes,” she tells me. “We just hit it off.”

Brewer soon made her own trip out to Seattle with her team to visit Starbucks’ flagship roastery for a tour and discussion about the digital revolution in retail. The 10-minute drop-in she was supposed to have with Schultz lasted more than an hour. Schultz asked if she’d ever considered joining the board. “And I said, ‘No, not really. I’m not interested in another board seat, but thank you very much,’” Brewer recalls. “And then by the time I got to the airport, I was thinking what did I just do?"

At the time of the visit, Brewer was pondering the next phase of her career. She’d been with Walmart for a decade and had just taken Sam’s Club through a digital revamp. “I actually felt like my work was done there and I wanted to repeat that somewhere else where I had a little more influence and control,” she says. She ended up stepping down from Sam’s Club in February, a month after it was announced she would join the Starbucks board.

Starbucks CEO Johnson, who took on the top job from Schultz in April, didn’t start thinking about Brewer for the COO role until about two months ago. She'd impressed him as a director with what he describes as her insightful questions, ability to connect with people, and her operational prowess—plus he’d heard Brewer was looking for something new. He asked for advice from some other board members who encouraged him to reach out. So he picked up the phone.

“I said, ‘Roz, this might sound crazy to you, but if you’d be interested, I’d really love to have this conversation,” Johnson says. Brewer flew out to Seattle the next weekend. She'll remain on the board even after she begins the job in October.

In a year when we’ve seen some of the world’s most powerful women—from Mondelez’s Irene Rosenfeld to Avon’s Sheri McCoy—step down from their perches, it’s refreshing to see Brewer climb up onto a new one.  Fortune

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

•  The campus questionBetsy DeVos announced yesterday that the Trump administration is abandoning the Obama-era rules about how college campuses handle sexual assault allegations. According to the Education Secretary, the policy "failed too many students" and did not provide sufficient protection for those accused of sexual assault. She did not, however, provide any details about how the rules might change, saying that the DOE will have an open comment period before the new policy is announced. Fortune

Team America. Last night's U.S. Open women's singles semi-finals featured four American players: Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, and CoCo Vandeweghe. Stephens and Keys will compete in the finals tomorrow, guaranteeing that the U.S. will have a grand slam champion without the last name Williams for the first time since 2003. Guardian

•  Putting stock in stock photos. What can stock photos tell us something about how our culture sees women? In 2007, the top-selling Getty image for "woman" showed a semi-naked woman lying under a towel. In 2017, it's a female hiker striding across a cliff face. One factor driving this change: Getty's Lean In photo collection, developed with Sheryl Sandberg's organization to "seed media with more modern, diverse and empowering images of women." New York Times

•  A question of "fitness?" Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he set up a 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya because wanted to learn about Hillary Clinton's "fitness" to be president. However, he insisted that nothing came of the meeting and that he did not collude with Russia's efforts to disrupt the U.S. presidential election. New York Times

So long, Selina! HBO has announced that Veep’s seventh season would be its last. I will miss the hilariously craven and inept Selina Meyer—though I can't wait to see what Julia Louis-Dreyfus does next. The Guardian

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sally Blount, the first woman to lead a top-ranked business school, will step down from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management at the end of this academic year.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

•  Playing the field. Connie Nicholas Carberg, the NFL’s first female scout with the New York Jets, writes about the role women have played in the league—and how they can become an even greater football force. Fortune

•  Funny girl. This story on the rise of comedian and Girls Trip breakout star Tiffany Haddish argues that her success sheds light on the "systemic roadblocks still lie for performers of color, particularly women, when they first enter the business—and how some barriers to entry may be falling as comedy enters a new golden age, with fewer gatekeepers and more platforms for artists to reach their fans." The Atlantic

•  In the running. Glamour is launching a new column featuring interviews with women who are running for office across the U.S., aimed at telling readers "what it’s really like out there." The first edition profiles Krishanti Vignarajah, Michelle Obama's former policy advisor and a Democratic candidate for governor. Glamour

The Conways' women convo. Kellyanne Conway, President Trump's former campaign manager and current counselor, recounted a conversation she had with her daughters about "why mommy, who's a woman, did not support the first female presidential candidate of a major party." Here's what she told them: Fortune

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ON MY RADAR

Donald Trump told Nikki Haley she could speak her mind. She’s doing just that CNN

Netanyahu’s wife faces possible indictment WSJ

Kate Millett, influential feminist writer, is dead at 82 New York Times

Democrats dread Hillary's book tour Politico

QUOTE

Say 'no' with a smile.

Venus Williams, on her best business advice

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