In 2021, Rosalind “Roz” Brewer was named the first Black CEO of Walgreens, the U.S. pharmacy chain operator. Her appointment also made her the only Black person to lead a Fortune 500 company until recently.
Brewer recently stepped down from her role as CEO of Walgreens. According to Reuters, the separation was mutual. In her less than three years in office, the company’s share price nearly cut in half as it tried to broaden its reach as a healthcare provider. The stock is down roughly 47% since March 2021, when Brewer joined the company, Reuters reported in September this year.
Per the separation agreement, the black business executive will receive a $9 million severance. Also, she will remain as a special adviser through February 2024, earning a monthly consulting fee of $375,000.
Before her appointment, Brewer served as the chief operating officer at Starbucks. She has a career spanning over 25 years in multiple fields. Before joining Starbucks, the 61-year-old served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club, the eighth-largest U.S. retailer with sales of $57 billion for the fiscal year 2016. The appointment made Brewer the first African American to lead a Walmart division.
Brewer also worked with Kimberly-Clark Corp. for 22 years, beginning as a scientist and advancing to become vice president of the Global Nonwovens Sector in 2004. In 2017, she was nominated for the Starbucks Board of Directors and was named COO in September of that year, making her the second-highest-ranked executive at Starbucks.
Brewer grew up in Detroit and attended Cass Technical High School and Spelman College, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She is also a graduate of the Director’s College at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business/Stanford Law School, and she also attended an advanced management program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In February 2019, Amazon named Brewer to their board. Also, she has served as Chair of the Board of Trustees for Spelman College. She was a director of Molson Coors Brewing Company from 2006 to 2011 and has been on the Board of Directors for Lockheed Martin, the Board of Trustees for The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, and the Board of Councilors for the Carter Presidential Center
Brewer has been very vocal about racism and how it has affected her in corporate America. “When you’re a Black woman, you get mistaken a lot,” she said in a 2018 graduation speech at Spelman College, her alma mater.
“You get mistaken as someone who could actually not have that top job. Sometimes you’re mistaken for kitchen help.” She continued: “Sometimes people assume you’re in the wrong place, and all I can think in the back of my head is, ‘No, you’re in the wrong place.’”