The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on Wednesday named University of Michigan provost Susan Collins as its next chief, making her the first Black woman to lead a regional Fed bank and delivering a measure of new diversity to U.S. central bank leadership.
Collins will start her job on July 1, the Boston Fed said in a statement. By then, the Fed is likely to have already begun to tighten monetary policy to fight inflation, raising interest rates and perhaps shrinking its balance sheet.
Collins will be in place to weigh in on Fed policy within weeks of starting, at its July 26-27 policy meeting. Following Fed rules, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker will continue to vote for the Boston Fed until then.
She fills a vacancy left by longtime Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, who resigned last fall during an ethics probe into personal trading by Fed officials during the pandemic.
Fed policymakers and outside observers say it is important for Fed leadership to diversify to look more like America and citing research that suggests a wider range of viewpoints improves decisions.
Choosing Collins is a historic step for the Fed, says Benjamin Dulchin, campaign director for policy advocacy group Fed Up. Working people want an economic recovery that includes everyone this time, and Dr. Collins has the deep expertise that the Fed will need.
The Boston Fed is one of 12 regional Fed banks whose presidents, along with members of the Washington-based Fed Board, set U.S. monetary policy. Three other Fed bank presidents are women, and two are nonwhite men.
The Fed Board is all-white, though U.S. President Joe Biden this year nominated three new Fed governors who would make the Fed’s top leadership the most diverse by race and gender in its 108-year history, if the U.S. Senate confirms them.
Two nominees, Davidson College’s Philip Jefferson and Michigan State’s Lisa Cook, are Black. The addition of Biden’s third nominee, former Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, would give the Fed Board four women governors for the first time.
The Senate Banking Committee is slated to vote on Biden’s Fed nominees next week. Regional Fed presidents, unlike nominees to the Fed Board, do not need Senate confirmation.