News- Stout Alumna (Contributed Stout Homepage) (1)

By Maria Grzywa —

On Feb. 12, 2015, University of Wisconsin–Stout alumna Jill Soltau was named president, chief executive officer of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, the nation’s leading fabric and craft retailer. This became effective March 2.

Soltau graduated from Stout in 1989 with a degree in retailing and a minor in business. Prior to her role as CEO of Jo-Ann Fabrics, Soltau was president of Shopko, joining the company in 2007 as senior vice president and general merchandise manager.

The undergraduate education Soltau received at Stout helped her expand her career after college by applying the hands-on skills and experiences Stout offers. Due to her past experience and educational background, Soltau was an obvious candidate for the CEO position.

Jo-Ann Fabrics’ ranking of 195 on Forbes’ list of the largest private United States companies makes Soltau excited for the challenge that comes with managing such success. “Jo-Ann is an industry leader that has exciting opportunities to achieve even greater long-term potential. I look forward to working with the talented management team and dedicated associates to bolster Jo-Ann’s market position and create further enthusiasm for the Jo-Ann brand,” said Soltau during a press release that announced the change in CEOs.

Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. is one of the nation’s preeminent private equity firms that has invested in over 70 companies, like Jo-Ann Fabrics. Leonard Green and Partners invests in established companies that are leaders in their markets, which goes to show what a feat this is for Soltau to be named CEO. Todd Purdy of Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. talked highly of Soltau’s capabilities.

“We are excited to partner with Jill as we continue to build upon Jo-Ann’s leading position in the fabric and craft industry. Jill’s passion, strategic vision and proven success make her an excellent leader for the company going forward,” said Purdy.

“For over 70 years, Jo-Ann has been inspiring the creativity in others and I am thrilled to join the team to help drive the brand’s future success,” said Soltau.

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