Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Juanita Kreps (1977–1979): Secretary of Commerce

Juanita Kreps was born in Lynch, Kentucky, on January 11, 1921. She received a B.A. from Berea College and, in 1944, an M.A. in economics from Duke University.

Kreps taught economics at Denison College in Ohio and then at Duke, becoming a vice president of the university in 1973. She also became director of the New York Stock Exchange -- the first woman to hold that post.

Following her time on Wall Street, Kreps became secretary of commerce in the Carter administration, becoming the first woman to head the commerce department; she held that position from 1977 to 1979. She was also the James B. Duke Professor of Economics and vice president emeritus at Duke University.

Kreps sits on various corporate boards, and is a trustee of the Duke endowment. She is also president of the board of overseers of TIAA-CREF.