Executive Team

Denise Nelsen

senior vice president, Operations Services and U.S. Alignment

Denise Nelsen

Denise Nelsen is senior vice president, Operations Services and U.S. Alignment. In this role, Denise is responsible for leading our operations services and alignment team. Denise’s team drives operationalizing key initiatives in Starbucks retail stores and owns core operations capabilities, including: operational excellence, deployment, customer service and inventory management. She also leads the alignment and planning process for Starbucks’ U.S. business.

Denise began her career with Starbucks in 1997 as a barista in the Chicago market, looking for a role using her degree in human resources and marketing.  She quickly fell in love with the culture and became a store manager in the spring of 1998 and moved to Indianapolis the next year to open the first Starbucks store in that market. In 2000 Denise was promoted to district manager, where she spent almost six years supporting several markets including Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Oklahoma. Denise later became a field implementation manager, then promoted to regional director of operations. After four years as a regional director, Denise moved to Seattle and became the director of business operations for U.S. Licensed Stores. Prior to her current role, she served for three years as regional vice president for Starbucks Western Mountain Region, living in Denver and leading operations for the seven states around the Rockies.

Denise holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she majored in human resources and marketing.  Denise was recognized in 2009 by the Indiana Business Journal “Top 40 Under 40” and in 2014 by the National Diversity Council of Colorado “Most Powerful and Influential Women.”

Denise lives in Seattle with her husband Rich. They enjoy travel, spending time with family, finding new restaurants, and all kinds of fitness activities, including running, biking, yoga and the occasional event. She enjoys exploring new cities with Starbucks and loves to go for long walks in Seattle parks with her pit-bull mix, Diamond. Denise starts every morning with a brewed cup Pike Place Roast, unless her favorite coffee dark-roast Gold Coast Blend is brewing.