Catalyst Couple

Brooke and Shaun Spearmon are dedicated to accelerating positive change

Watching Brooke (MBA 2009) and Shaun (MBA 2011) Spearmon interact, even over Zoom, a sense of mutual respect and partnership is palpable.

Their journeys have been defined by overlapping paths and shared experiences. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that the driving dream of this powerful couple—to make the greatest impact they can on society—is also shared equally and passionately.

The dream dates back to their undergraduate days. Shaun attended Morehouse, a private historically Black men’s college in Atlanta. Brooke attended Spelman, a private historically Black women’s college right across the street. They met in Spanish class and have been largely inseparable ever since.

Both pursued their MBAs at Foster. Both worked for the UW. Both went into consulting. Today, both work at Starbucks. And both want to change the world.

Brook and Shaun Spearmon“Foster was very collaborative, and the smaller class size made for a close-knit experience,” says Brooke. “I was awarded the African American Endowed Scholarship and found ways to get involved in diversifying business via the Consulting and Business Development Center. I had great professors and access to transformative learning. The one thing that was frustrating was the lack of Black students in my cohort.”

Brooke describes this as a continuation of her high school experience at an affluent school where only six of 760 students were Black.

Consulting to Starbucks

Shaun gives voice to a similar experience. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that, for reasons both academic and demographic, Foster became a catalyst for Shaun’s interest in change leadership. He parlayed a summer internship at Kotter International into a full-time job and made the most of learning from a thought leader in organizational development. “John Kotter was truly on the forefront,” says Shaun. “I joined a team focused on helping organizations accelerate the implementation of their key strategic initiatives to achieve extraordinary business results—it was definitely an exciting time for me.”

At this time, Brooke was with Hitachi Consulting, though she had become interested in Starbucks based on the company’s culture with a focus on empathy and compassion. “I was drawn to a company with such a strong value system,” she says.

She ended up getting offered an even better role than the one for which she had applied. In global operations, she works most closely with store partners on a team informed by former store leaders, focused on inclusion and diversity and improving the partner experience.

Brooke pitched Shaun on Starbucks and he found a fit as a senior manager, leading a team focused on communications and change management that supports global store development.

What a catalyst looks like

“We’re really two sides of the same coin,” says Brooke. “We both favor a stance of accelerating change. Shaun is working at the systems level, and I’m working with our front-line partners at Starbucks.”  

“When I think about what we do and what I’ve learned along the way,” adds Shaun, “so much of it is under the umbrella of servant leadership. We benefit from standing on the shoulders of others, and it drives my passion to be a philanthropist.”

Spearmons speaking at a Foster event

Another thing the Spearmons have in common is a strong desire to make an impact at a game-changing level. They are already generous donors of money, time and expertise to Foster and its Consulting and Business Development Center, which supports the growth of minority owned businesses. And Brooke is a newly appointed member of the Foster School’s Advisory Board, where she will add her insight and experience to guide the school in its enhanced efforts to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.

They are leaders in their careers and in their community, raising three children, and continually on the lookout for ways to create positive change. “I have a lot of things on my mind and I want to map out my vision for how I can make my biggest impact,” Brooke says. “I want to be very deliberate about it.”

Eric Nobis Managing Director, Marketing and Communications Foster School

Eric Nobis is managing director of marketing and communications at the Foster School. In his 25-year marketing career he has been a PR pitch man, brand consultant, ad copywriter and leader of marketing teams. Eric is also the executive director of Foster’s Center for Sales and Marketing Strategy.