Janet Yellen (2021- )

Janet Yellen (2021- )

On January 26, 2021, Janet Yellen was sworn in as the first woman to become the secretary of the Treasury. 

Born on August 13, 1946, in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Yellen was raised by her father, a doctor, and her mother, a teacher. She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1967, and then went on to Yale University, where she graduated with a Ph.D. in economics in 1971. 

Yellen began her career as an assistant professor at Harvard University before becoming a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Board. There she met her husband, Georg Akerlof, and they married in 1978. Her husband was also in the field of economics, and he won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001. 

In 1978, Yellen left the United States with her husband to teach at the London School of Economics and Political Science. They soon returned to the country, and she joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1999, she became the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics at Berkeley. She became an emerita professor at Berkeley in 2006. 

She went back to the Federal Reserve in 1994 as a member of its Board of Governors. In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Yellen to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers, where she served until 1999, when she returned to teaching at Berkley. 

In 2004, Yellen became the president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. President Barack Obama appointed her as the vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board in 2010, and in 2014, the US Senate confirmed her as the chair of the Federal Reserve. She became the first woman to serve in that position, but she had one of the shortest tenures after President Donald Trump refused to renominate her for a second term in 2018. 

After leaving the Federal Reserve, Yellen joined the Brookings Institute as a distinguished fellow. Just weeks after winning the presidential election in 2020, Joe Biden announced that he would nominate Yellen as the secretary of the Treasury. The US Senate confirmed her by a vote of 84 to 15. Along with being the first woman to serve as the secretary of the Treasury, Yellen is also unique as being the first person to lead three of the most powerful economic entities in the US federal government: the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the Federal Reserve, and the Department of the Treasury.