(JTA) — Starbucks’ founder and executive chairman Howard Schultz is stepping down.
In an interview with The Times, Schultz, a Democrat who has publicly criticized President Donald Trump, did not deny speculation that he was considering a political career.
“I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines. For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world,” said Schultz, 64.
“One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back,” he added. “I’m not exactly sure what that means yet.”
Under Schultz, Starbucks became a vocal part of the national conversation on issues such as gun violence, gay rights, race relations, veterans rights and student debt. Its advocacy did not always run smoothly. A 2015 campaign, Race Together — which aimed to spark a national conversation about race relations in its shops — was seen as a public relations failure. Recently, the coffee chain came under fire after two African American men were arrested inside a store in Philadelphia in April after they asked to use a restroom without buying anything.
Schultz has written about his hardscrabble Jewish upbringing in New York, and about his transformative encounter in Jerusalem with Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, who headed the Mir Yeshiva.
He received an award from Aish Hatorah, a Jewish Orthodox pro-Israel group, in 1998.