Penney announced on Tuesday that Solatu will take over as the company's chief executive beginning on October 15. Penney has been leaderless since Marvin Ellison left the company in May to take the top job at Lowe's.
Solatu will become one of only a handful of female CEOs leading a Fortune 500 company.
She will face a daunting task: Turning around JCPenney (JCP), a former retail heavyweight that has slipped to close to $1.50 a share. Penney is currently without its chief financial officer. Jeffrey Davis resigned last week only 14 months after taking the job.
In a sign that Soltau has Wall Street's approval to start, shares rose 11% in extended trading.