Iole Lucchese became the heir and controller of Scholastic Corporation after the sudden death of M. Richard Robinson Jr., the longtime head of the $1.2 billion dollar publishing company, according to The Wall-Street Journal. Lucchese, age 54, was the longtime romantic partner of Robinson, the newspaper reported.
Lucchese is the Executive Vice President of Scholastic Corporation, Chair of the Board of Directors and Chief Strategy Officer, according to Scholastic. The Wall Street Journal reviewed Robinson’s 2018 will, in which Robinson described Lucchese as “my partner and closest friend.” He also left her his personal possessions, according to The Wall Street Journal. She was 30 years younger than Robinson.
Scholastic is one of the largest publishers of children’s books, including the Harry Potter series and Magic School Bus series, the newspaper reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Some of Robinson’s Family Members Are Reviewing Legal Options, Shocked by the Will’s Revelations
Robinson’s will and succession plan sent shockwaves through his family and the Scholastic Corporation, The Wall Street Journal reported. Robinson also had two sons, siblings, and an ex-wife, with whom he had “rekindled a friendship” during the pandemic, the newspaper said.
Family members and former employees were aware of Robinson’s relationship with Lucchese, and disclosed the information in interviews with The Wall Street Journal. Now, some members of Robinson’s family are reviewing legal options for Scholastic’s control and his inheritance, the article said. A possible solution is to have Lucchese transfer voting shares to members of the family, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“Some family members are unhappy and are reviewing their legal options, people close to the situation said, with concerns running the gamut from wanting to maintain Scholastic’s independence to rawness about an outsider having control of Mr. Robinson’s personal possessions,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “One possibility is to reach an agreement with Ms. Lucchese to transfer some voting shares to family members or to ensure they get a greater share of the estate, one person said.”
2. Lucchese Is a Canadian & First-Generation College Graduate
Lucchese was the first person in her family to graduate college, according to her Scholastic biography. She is from Toronto, Ontario, and attended the University of Toronto.
“Born in Toronto, Ontario, Ms. Lucchese is a first-generation college graduate, having received her degrees from the University of Toronto,” her biography said.
She has now inherited a company worth $1.2 billion, according to the Associated Press. Robinson took over the company after his father. Scholastic became the world’s largest publisher of children’s books under Robinson, according to the AP.
The company says it distributes 1 out of every 3 children’s book in the United States. The company is publicly traded and has an estimated net worth is around $1.2 billion, the AP reported. The company’s net worth dropped from $1.6 billion in 2016, but surged from its value of about $800 million in 2020, according to the AP.
3. Lucchese Started Her Career With Scholastic & Worked There for 30 Years
Lucchese, a 30-year-veteran of Scholastic, spent her entire career with the company, according to her Scholastic bio. She started out with the Scholastic Canada Book Clubs and rose through the ranks. She was named Chief Strategy Officer in 2014, Executive Vice President of Scholastic Corporation in 2016 and Chair of the Board of Directors in 2021, the bio said.
Early in her career, she was credited with increasing the diversity of book offerings to increase profitability for the company, while continuing to keep books affordable to children and their families. Her earliest jobs included serving as an associate editor, the bio said. She initially planned to be a teacher, following in her family’s footsteps, the bio said.
“Iole began her career at Scholastic, after initially planning to follow her family into teaching,” the bio said. “A native of Canada, her very first job was with Scholastic Canada Book Clubs. She began as an associate editor for the book clubs, quickly bringing a critical eye for enhancement that led to increasing the number of books, diversifying the offerings and strategically structuring pricing for better profitability, while still keeping books affordable and enabling access to children of all backgrounds.”
The bio said:
Iole led the successful relaunch of Scholastic Entertainment in 2017 by recognizing the untapped potential of the Scholastic brand to bring its beloved stories and content to multiple platforms. Against the backdrop of an exploding streaming landscape, the division rapidly expanded under her leadership, growing to a highly-profitable business as Scholastic’s media activities met the market’s need for engaging children’s content. As a result, numerous projects are currently in development or production today, ranging from animated series like Peabody Award-winning and Daytime Emmy® Award-nominated Stillwater on AppleTV+ and Clifford the Big Red Dog on Amazon Prime Video and PBS Kids, to live action films like Clifford the Big Red Dog and The Magic School Bus Rides Again. With an eye toward strategic investment and a focus on discovering and celebrating diverse voices, Iole also spearheaded a partnership with the new media company Picturestart. The highly-anticipated screen adaptation of Animorphs is currently in development—a product of the companies’ partnership. Iole also sits on the Board of Picturestart.
4. Lucchese Was Credited With Modernizing Scholastic & Expanding Access to Its Books
Lucchese was credited in her bio with increasing access to Scholastic’s books across the world and for modernizing the company for the digital age. Her bio said she “consistently led innovative efforts to deepen connections with and better support teachers, families, young readers, and other consumers, while expanding access to Scholastic content around the world.”
“During her career, she has worked to modernize Scholastic for the digital age, forge new and innovative partnerships, and extend the Company’s reach to diverse audiences, focusing on content development and the strengthening of the Scholastic brand in publishing and education,” the bio continued.
The bio said she is “responsible for the company’s digital content and e-commerce strategy, including the use of social media and new ways of approaching parents directly.”
5. Robinson Died Suddenly in June at Age 84 During a Walk in Martha’s Vineyard
Scholastic’s Board of Directors released a statement at the time announcing his death, but it did not reveal his cause of death. He had been in “excellent health,” the AP reported. The New York Times later reported Robinson died from a heart attack.
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson,” Scholastic’s statement said, according to the AP. “Dick was a true visionary in the world of children’s books and an unrelenting advocate for children’s literacy and education with a remarkable passion his entire life.”