As Co-CEO, Mellody is responsible for management, strategic planning and growth for all areas of Ariel outside of research and portfolio management. Additionally, she serves as chairman of the board of trustees of Ariel Investment Trust—the company’s publicly traded mutual funds. Prior to being named Co-CEO, Mellody spent nearly two decades as the firm’s President. Additionally in 2021, Mellody co-founded Ariel Alternatives LLC, a new asset management enterprise offering a patient, focused and non-consensus approach to private equity. Its initial strategic initiative, Project Black, has a mission to scale sustainable minority-owned business enterprises to serve as Tier 1 suppliers to Fortune 500 companies—driving economic growth and equality from the entry level to the boardroom.
Outside of Ariel, Mellody is a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy. Her leadership has been invaluable to corporate boardrooms across the nation. She currently serves as chairman of the board of Starbucks Corporation. She is also a director of JPMorgan Chase. She previously served as chairman of the board of DreamWorks Animation until the company’s sale and was a long-standing board member of the Estée Lauder Companies. Mellody’s community outreach includes her role as chairman of After School Matters, a Chicago non-profit that provides area teens with high-quality after-school and summer programs. Additionally, she is co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and a board member of the George Lucas Educational Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. She also serves on the board of trustees of the Center for Strategic & International Studies and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Mellody is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Rockefeller Foundation board of trustees and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute. Mellody earned her AB from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. In 2019, she was awarded the University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented annually to a Princeton graduate whose career embodies a commitment to national service. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, St. Mary’s College, and the University of Southern California. In 2015, Time Magazine named her one of the “100 Most Influential People” in the world.