The Brookings institution has elected to its board of truestees John D. deButts, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the American Telephone and Telegraph Co., and James D. Robinson III, chairman and chief executive officer of the American Express Co.

deButts has headed the nation's largest utility since 1972. He started with AT&T in 1936. deButts also serves as chairman of the Business Council and is a member of the executive committee and policy committee of the Business Roundtable.

Robinson began his business career at Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. He joined American Express Co. in 1970 as executive vice president. He became president in 1975 and served in that office until his election as chairman and chief executive officer in 1977.

Verrick O. French has been named senior vice president for governmental affairs for the National Retail Merchants Association.

French has served as vice president for governmental affairs for the association since 1975. Prior to joining NRMA, he was administrative assistant to Ohio Sen. Howard Metzenbaum. From 1967-71, he served as legislative assistant to former Sen. Fred R. Harris of Oklahoma, executive director of the Democratic National Committee and executive assistant to Sen. Harris.

Frank Anderson has been named circulation director at the Washington Star, succeeding Bill Merritt, who will stay on as a consultant until Nov. 22.

In addition, Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Tex.) was elected to the board of directors of the Star. Jordan is retiring from Congress after three terms in the House.

Barbara Hackman Franklin, commissioner of the U.S. Product Safety Commission has been named to the board of directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Prior to her appointment to the commission, Franklin was a presidential assistant and during her term launched the first White House program to recruit women for top government jobs.