Lyft adds former Obama senior adviser to its board

Valerie Jarrett will be the company’s first black board member and second female board member.

Valerie Jarrett at a New York ceremony denoting the Stonewall Inn as the country’s first LGBTQ monument. CREDIT: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx
Valerie Jarrett at a New York ceremony denoting the Stonewall Inn as the country’s first LGBTQ monument. CREDIT: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx

Valerie Jarrett, the former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, has joined Lyft’s board of directors, the company announced Monday. She is the company’s first black board member and its second female board member.

Jarrett’s resume includes chairing the Chicago Transit board and serving as the city’s planning and development commissioner.

Lyft co-founder and board member Logan Green said in a blog post announcing the move that Jarrett would help the company work “alongside public transit agencies to provide upward mobility through transportation, reduce congestion, and ultimately reshape our cities.”

Lyft isn’t the first ride-sharing company to pluck politicos from the Obama camp. The company’s top competitor Uber hired former Obama campaign strategist David Plouffe in 2014 to join the company’s board.

Uber has since struggled publicly with culture problems largely stemming from lack of diversity and has made high-level hires aimed at restructuring the company from the inside out, including Bozoma Saint John, who left Apple Music and is now Uber’s chief branding officer.

Lyft has fared better than Uber on the cultural front. According to the company’s first-ever diversity report released in June, Lyft employs more women compared to Uber but slightly lags behind in terms of its representation of people of color — particularly in leadership roles.

On the Lyft board, Jarrett joins co-founders Green, John Zimmer, and Ben Horowitz; major tech investor Andreessen Horowitz; General Motors president Dan Ammann; Jonathan Christodoro of Icahn Capital; Sean Aggarwal, CFO for the real estate site Trulia; Hiroshi Mikitani of Japanese electronic commerce company Rakuten; and Ann Miura-Ko of venture capital firm Floodgate Fund.