USC professor Raphael Bostic made history on Monday when he was named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, becoming the first African-American to lead one of the Fed?s 12 regional banks.
The choice of Bostic, 50, director of the Bedrosian Center on Governance at USC?s Sol Price School of Public Policy, comes after members of Congress and advocacy groups have sharply criticized the central bank for a lack of diversity.
They had pushed for a diverse choice to head the Atlanta region, in part because it has a large African-American population.
Bostic acknowledged the significance of his appointment, which he said ?is a very big deal? that made him the answer to a ?Jeopardy? question.
?It?s not lost on me that I ? am the first African-American to lead a Federal Reserve institution,? he said in a short video released by the Atlanta Fed. ?It?s kind of daunting. It?s an overwhelming thought. It?s a tremendous privilege.?
?I look forward to this being a stepping stone for many others to have this opportunity as well,? Bostic said.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who was among four prominent African-American House members who urged a diverse choice for the Atlanta position, hailed Bostic as an ?outstanding choice? and called his selection a ?long-awaited first step towards building diversity among the Federal Reserve?s senior leadership.?
?Given the disparate economic experiences faced by key demographic groups, it is crucial that a broader cross-section of groups have a seat at the decision-making table,? said Waters, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.
Thomas Fanning, chairman of the Atlanta Fed?s board, said Bostic ?brings a wealth of experience from an outstanding career in academia, government and research.? Bostic has worked as senior economist for the Fed?s Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., and spent three years as an official at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
?What made Raphael our top choice for the Atlanta Fed president? His positive energy, his deep knowledge of income inequality, economic opportunity and consumer banking issues and his outstanding personal character and intellect,? said Fanning, chief executive of Atlanta-based energy firm Southern Co., in a video announcement.
?Raphael has a real talent for understanding how policy impacts people,? Fanning said.
Bostic?s appointment was approved by the Atlanta Fed?s board of directors and the Board of Governors in Washington. He will take over on June 5, succeeding Dennis Lockhart, who announced his resignation in September and stepped down on Feb. 28.