President Barack Obama has nominated Brooklyn native and Fort Hamilton High School graduate Janet Yellen to follow Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank, making the announcement on Wednesday, October 9.
Yellen, 67, currently vice chair of the Federal Reserve, will be the first woman to lead the national bank.
But her illustrious career started right here in Brooklyn and Bay Ridge.
Yellen graduated from Fort Hamilton in 1963. Living on Ridge Boulevard off of Bay Ridge Avenue, she was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, Pilot and was a member of Arista, Boosters, Minutemen and the Psychology Club.
Fellow grad David Whitebook recalled that Yellen was inducted into the Fort Hamilton Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame back in the 1990s, when she was serving on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan. She visited the school to accept the award.
Fellow Fort Hamilton grads said that they were honored to walk the halls with such an important alumnus.
“Janet’s a member of the [Fort Hamilton Alumni Association] Hall of Fame just like I am. It’s a pleasure to be involved with a past graduate of Janet’s caliber,” said community activist and columnist Ted General. “I am on the executive board of the Fort Hamilton Alumni Association and am particularly pleased that the president picked Janet to be the next Federal Reserve chair.”
A much more recent graduate, Andrew Gounardes, a member of Community Board 10 who recently ran for state senate, added, “This goes to show that Fort Hamilton has always been and will always will be a hidden gem, not only in Bay Ridge or Brooklyn but across the entire city,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a senator or president coming from our school, as well, one day.”
Local leaders also praised the news.
“I commend President Obama on his selection of Dr. Janet Yellen to be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history,” Councilmember Vincent Gentile said. “She has played a major role in the Fed’s efforts to keep interest rates near record lows to support the economy and will take over at a pivotal time for our country.
“And of course, most importantly, she is from Bay Ridge and a fellow Fort Hamilton High School alum – so we know she’ll do a great job!” he went on. “We wish you the best of luck, Dr. Yellen, as you lead the American central bank and work to lift economic growth. Congratulations!”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz concurred.
“For a long time, I’ve been shouting that I’m ‘Fed’ up with the boys’ club, that it’s time to bring women into our halls of leadership. Well, after all my yellin’, we finally got Yellen!” he said. “Who else but a Brooklynite to boost our nation’s economy? Her superior forecasting ability and tough stance on financial regulations will ‘pay dividends’, you can ‘take it to the bank’! Brooklyn couldn’t be prouder to be home to our nation’s first female Fed chair!”