Brooklyn native Janet Yellen is first woman to lead the Federal Reserve

Brooklyn native and Fort Hamilton High School graduate Janet Yellen will become the new chairperson of the Federal Reserve Bank just as it gears up to begin winding down the stimulus efforts it began in 2008.

Her nomination by President Barack Obama was confirmed on Monday, January 6, by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 56-26, largely along party lines, with much support from Democrats and less support from Republicans.

Yellen, 67, currently serves as the Fed’s vice-chair, and will be the first woman to lead the nation’s central bank in its century-long existence.

Yellen’s tenure begins on February 1. She will succeed her current boss, Ben Bernanke, whose second term in the role expires on January 31.

When she takes the reins, she will face close scrutiny as head of an organization that has cut interest rates and spent the past five years pushing bond purchase programs that some fear increases the risk of inflation.

Whatever the next four years brings Yellen, 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, who is on the executive board of the Fort Hamilton Alumni Association.

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.”

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