Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1946, Janet Yellen earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1967. She then went to Yale University, where she received her Ph.D. in 1971. After teaching at Harvard University, Yellen worked at the Federal Reserve from 1977 to 1978, and then became a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1997 to 1999, she served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and in 2004, she became president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In 2010, Yellen was selected to serve as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. President Barack Obama nominated her to become the board’s chairman in October 2013.
Yellen held her first post with the Federal Reserve in the late 1970s, serving as an economist there for a year before returning to academia. From 1978 to 1980, she lived abroad, becoming a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She then joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.
Yellen took leave from UC Berkeley in the mid-1990s to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. From 1997 to 1999, she also served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers for President Bill Clinton.
In 2004, Yellen became president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, showing remarkable insight into the country’s economic situation as one of the few economists to forecast the housing crisis of 2008. In 2010, she became vice chair of the Federal Reserve. Yellen has been an outspoken advocate for using the powers of the Federal Reserve to reduce unemployment, and has seemed more willing than other economists to risk slightly higher inflation to accomplish this goal.
In October 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve. She would replace outgoing chair Ben Bernanke and be the first woman to serve in this capacity, if she received congressional approval. She would also become the first Democrat to hold the post in nearly three decades.
At a White House press conference, President Obama praised Yellen’s “good judgement” and said that she “knows how to build consensus.” Considering the challenging political environment in Washington, he expressed his confidence in Yellen’s ability to get things done. “She’s a proved leader and she’s tough—not just because she’s from Brooklyn,” the president said.
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