Why Hobson joining Chase’s board is a big deal
March 25th, 2018
JPMorgan Chase just appointed Chicago businesswoman Mellody Hobson to its board of directors. The president of Ariel Investments isn’t the first woman or African American to sit in the big bank’s boardroom. But her appointment sends a message that diversity matters and comes as more companies are being scrutinized about their board makeup.
In recent months Tesla welcomed Ebony Media CEO Linda Johnson Rice to its board, and Lyft opened its boardroom to Valerie Jarrett, the former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.
Hobson, who declined commenting about her appointment, is a veteran in the boardroom. She also holds seats on boards at Starbucks’ and Estée Lauder Companies.
Racial and gender diversity on boards–and the lack thereof–has been a concern for years, but it’s been getting renewed attention in recent weeks.
Laurence Fink, the CEO of BlackRock investment group, wrote a letter to some of the world’s largest companies. He said if they expect backing from his financial firm, they need to think less about profits and more about contributing to society. BlackRock has $6 trillion in investments, so his comments didn’t’ go unnoticed.
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society,” he wrote. “Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”
And just last week, the $209 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund announced it would crack down on companies that didn’t have a woman on its board.
“We’re putting all-male boardrooms on notice—diversify your boards to improve your performance,” the state’s comptroller said.
Click here for a comprehensive list of Chicago African-American executives who sit on corporate boards. Among them: former Potbelly CEO Aylwin Lewis, who sits on Disney’s board, and former McDonald’s CEO and investor Don Thompson, who might have the sweetest board seat of all. It’s with Royal Caribbean Cruises.
RAMBLING ALUMS: Now that Loyola University is competing in the NCAA Tournament’s elite eight, it’s time to meet some of the school’s elite alumni.
Among them is Todd Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and finance chair for the Republican National Committee.
That position has sent Ricketts all over the country raising money for the GOP, but he’s still found time to watch Loyola basketball games. Here he is, left, with Sister Jean, the 92-year-old nun whose become the face of the school.
“Her presence keeps us centered and focused on the joy of the moment, ” Ricketts told me.
Other notable alums include Chicago billionaire and preservationist Jennifer Pritzker, who recently donated $10 million to the university in honor of her mom, Audrey Ratner–another alum.
Lori Greiner earned a communications degree from Loyola before she became an entrepreneur. Grenier took out a $300,000 loan to create plastic organizers that hold earrings. J.C. Penney started selling them in stores. It was the beginning of an entrepreneurial career that has made Grenier wealthy–and famous. She’s a fixture on QVC and now stars on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Don’t be surprised if you see these folks wearing maroon-and-gold scarves this week. They’re alums, too: Dan Webb, co-executive chairman of Winston & Strawn; Bill Daley, the former White House chief of staff, and his brother, Cook County Commissioner John Daley; Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis; state Speaker of the House Mike Madigan; entrepreneur and reality TV star Bill Rancic; and actor Leslie David Baker, who played Stanley on “The Office.”
NUN V. CLEMSON: A bobblehead in the likeness of Sister Jean has become a best-selling bobblehead, according to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum.
“We’ve been completely overwhelmed,” said Phil Sklar, founder of the for-profit organization.
He said in just 24 hours, the bobblehead has been sold to people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Nearly 5,000 have been sold, surpassing the Clemson Football National Championship Bobblehead, which saw 3,000 fly off the shelves.
MAGIC IN EDUCATION: A nonprofit education program founded by NBA veteran Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter is building up its team. Academy Group has named Halleemah Nash as its chief partnerships officer. She’ll be responsible for connecting the school to business and community supporters.
The Academy Group is part of a national effort to nurture students from under-served communities to be “resilient leaders” and to guide them toward employment–mainly in the financial world. The program helps high school students find internships at financial services companies like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Guggenheim.
It has some big names helping shape its curriculum, including, Timothy Knowles, who served as the Pritzker Director of the University of Chicago Urban Labs.
Nash has an interesting back-story, too. Most recently, she was executive director of iMentor, a mentoring program for teens. Before that she managed charitable programs for the Chicago Bulls and was executive director for NFL veteran Israel Idonije’s foundation, now called IF Charities.
HEBRU GOES HOLLYWOOD: Local filmmaker Gigi Pritzker has partnered with Chicago artist Hebru Brantley to bring his popular “Flyboy” character to life in film, TV, immersive gaming, comics and books.
Pritzker’s company has gone through a transformation–it’s now called Madison Wells Media (MWM) after merging with a Hollywood firm. MWM will work with Brantley’s Angry Hero Productions on the project.
“I am very excited to be working with MWM to further develop this already rich story,” Brantley said in a release about the partnership. “Having known Gigi for years, I relish the opportunity to finally work with her directly on a project that is so meaningful to me. I am looking forward to creating a Flyboy saga that will carry on through generations and live in multiple mediums.”
NAME DROPPING: Some of the biggest names in Chicago business–Trott, Silich and Metz–came out to support UNICEF the other day. I’m talking about Tina Trott, whose husband Byron Trott runs BDT Capital Partners; Susie Silich, whose husband Joseph Silich is an executive at Morgan Stanley; and Martha Metz, whose husband Adam Metz works with the Carlyle Group
The event included a luncheon of tuna tartare at Barney’s New York on Oak Street and featured a panel conversation hosted by fashion bon-vivant Simon Doonan, clothing designer Lisa Perry, jewelry designer Ana Khouri, shoe designer Nicolo Beretta of Giannico, and Sterling McDavid of the Starling Project (which provides solar energy to communities around the world).
I hear there was a stunned collective gasp when Beretta revealed his age–just 22! “He seems wise beyond his years,” said one attendee.
EXPANDING ITS REACH: Chicago-based Windy City RE, headed in part by Amy Rubenstein, is expanding its apartment management business. It’s teamed up with a Texas-based Lynd Opportunity Partners to purchase apartments in the Florida Panhandle for $36 million.
“We have an excellent opportunity to improve the living experience for our current residents and at the same time add value to the real estate,” Rubenstein, CFO of Windy City RE, said of the deal.
Windy City RE oversees projects all over Chicago, including in up-and-coming Motor Row area on South Michigan Avenue.