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Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said Elaine Chao brings a broad range of public- and private-sector experience to the company's board.

Former U.S. transportation and labor secretary joins Kroger board

Elaine Chao, who served in two presidential administrations, becomes retailer’s fifth woman director

The Kroger Co. has named Elaine Chao, former secretary of the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Labor, to its board of director.

Chao, the wife of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Kentucky), will serve until Kroger’s annual shareholders meeting in June 2022, when she will stand for election by the stockholders, the Cincinnati-based supermarket giant said late Monday.

“We are pleased to welcome Elaine to Kroger,” Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement. “She’s an experienced national and global leader who brings to Kroger’s board deep knowledge of corporate governance, strategic and workforce management, and public-private partnerships as well as extensive experience at the highest levels of U.S. government.”


Most recently, Chao (left) served as secretary of transportation under the Trump administration from 2017 to 2021. A Republican, she held the post of secretary of labor for two terms under President George W. Bush, serving from 2001 to 2009. Kroger noted that she is the first Asian-Pacific American woman to serve in the presidential cabinet in U.S. history as well as the longest-serving U.S. cabinet secretary since World War II.

Chao’s career leading domestic and international organizations across the public, private and nonprofit sectors also includes serving as a director on Fortune 500 public company boards, president and CEO of the United Way of America, director of the Peace Corps, and a banker with Citicorp and Bank of America.

“Kroger’s proactive board refreshment strategy ensures the organization benefits from the unique expertise and perspective of a diverse board of directors,” McMullen added. “Kroger’s board is committed to creating value for all of our stakeholders, including our shareholders, customers, associates and communities.”

With the addition of Chao, Kroger’s 11-member board now has five directors who are women. In January, the company announced the appointment veteran Unilever executive Amanda Sourry to the board. Her more than 30 years at consumer products giant Unilever included two years as president of Unilever North America, a post she held until retiring in December 2019.

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