The Federal Reserve made progress Monday in an area it has long struggled in: Diversity.
Raphael Bostic was named president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve, becoming the first African-American regional president in the central bank’s history. Bostic, a former policymaker in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a professor at the University of Southern California.
He will become the Atlanta Fed’s 15th president and takes office June 5. He will be on the Fed’s powerful committee that determines interest rates. Bostic will have a vote on the Fed’s rotating committee in 2018.
Bostic was hired by the board of the Atlanta Federal Reserve. It’s unclear how much influence Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who leads the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, had in the hiring process.
His appointment comes after Yellen was heavily criticized by congressional leaders last year for the central bank’s lack of diversity.
About 82% of the Fed’s most senior employees in Washington D.C. — there are 231 of them — are white, according to the most recent Fed data. There are only 17 high-level black employees.
Last June, Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Yellen three times during her congressional testimony about the Fed’s lack of diversity.
“The selection process for regional Fed presidents is broken,” Warren told Yellen last June. “The current process has not allowed you and the rest of the board to address the persistent lack of diversity among the regional Fed presidents.”
Yellen has repeatedly emphasized that making the Fed more diverse is one of her top priorities. Bostic’s appointment was one step in that direction. He succeeds Dennis Lockhart, who was Atlanta Fed president for a decade.